Was it an eternity ago that boxing was stacking up one hit weekend after another, or does it only seem that way? Pretty sure it's been a literal eternity. LITERAL.
It's slow going at the beginning of 2013 compared to the end of 2012, and more so than with the usual early-year doldrums. Outside of one top notch HBO show and one better than expected heavyweight fight, there's been little to cheer about, and it's compounded by how little there is on the ledger. When the best show on the calendar in any given month is an ESPN2 show, like what we've got in February, then there's a problem -- and that's no knock on ESPN2 or the men fighting that night, junior welterweights Lamont Peterson and Kendall Holt, because I like that show and plan to cover it live from ringside. It's just that when the smaller cards are more exciting than what HBO and Showtime are offering, it's a sign that either A. the little guys have snookered the big guys or B. there ain't much happening at the upper upper levels of the sport.
The main trouble is injury. No one was getting the vapors for Devon Alexander 's welterweight scrap with Kell Brook or Danny Garcia's junior welterweight scrap with Zab Judah or Andre Ward's super middleweight scrap with Kelly Pavlik or Jonathon Banks' heavyweight rematch with Seth Mitchell before all four were canceled/postponed due to injury/alleged injury (I can't even remember if that's the complete list -- seriously, there's been a real injury bug). But when you're in a desert, and there are a few drops of water left in a sponge, you savor each squeeze that much more.
Plus, some of what little boxing we've been getting has been gross, deepening the malaise. I suppose in this vacuum that the usual Floyd Mayweather parlor games over who he'll fight -- is it Devon Alexander, or Robert Guerrero, or which one of them today???? -- become as close to tasting high level boxing as we'll get, and becomes that much more talkaboutable. Hell, even those fights fall short of the big fight-excitement usually offered by a Mayweather bout, one more symptom of how slow 2013 is going so far. Fantasy, even ho-hum fantasy, trumps reality.
What's the next thing to REALLY look forward to, then? In March, Jayson Velez-Daniel Ponce De Leon is OK, and Bernard Hopkins-Tavoris Cloud is OK... oh, hey, look there, at the end of the month it's Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado II! Hard not to like a rematch of TQBR's 2012 Fight of the Year.
So, sit tight for a month and a half or so, boxing fans. Hope that a fight like Chris Arreola-Bermane Stiverne exceeds whatever minimal hype it has. And if you start to turn catatonic, just remember that it was only a few months ago that boxing was kicking ass, and maybe it will get back to it by year's end.
The timing of this column is perfect. My brother made a quick visit to my house yesterday afternoon. During our conversation, he asked me, "Any big fights coming up?"
My response: "Uhhhhhh ... hey, Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado are fighting at the end of March in a rematch of my fight of the year from last year."
Usually I can rattle off two or three good fights in the next month when asked that question. The upcoming schedule is barren.