Monday, May 17, 2010

The Art of the Undercard

Todays' undercards resembles this ...

With the recent announcement of Floyd Mayweather's bout with Shane Mosley bringing in 1.4 million PPV buys, it begged the question as to what do fans will remember most: the main event or the fact that the main event was not too exciting?

While not meaning to put a damper to this upbeat news to an ever-dying sport, it reminded this writer of a solid card more than a decade ago that produced a great fight and a future boxing star in separate bouts. That fight was in 1997. The main event featured a promising contender in David Tua defending his undefeated record against an unbeaten, and unknown Ike Ibeabuchi. The two produced an instant classic and set a then record for the most punches thrown in a heavyweight bout. While neither fighter reached boxing's zenith (Tua lost a UD against Lennox Lewis and Ibeabuchi is currently in prison until, maybe, 2012) they both were heavily sought after fighters who delivered the goods.

On that undercard, a young Fernando Vargas fought as well. Fast forward to Mayweather-Mosley, a PPV fight, and tell me who fought on the undercard? Take your time. Okay, how about Mannny Pacquiao's fight against Joshua Clottey. Any fighters on that undercard that have you ready to tune in next time? Unless I read your mind wrong, I didn't think so.

Promoters like Arum and Golden Boy really need to stop ripping the fans off. And networks like CBS and HBO need to stop buying these pitiful undercards. Undercards used to be about building stars. Now, they are merely a platform for protecting records and promoting fighters of an ethnic and religious background, irregardless of their promising skill and excitement value.

Here's a suggestion which may fall to deaf ears and averted eyes: Instead of going the Hollywood route and reusing the same old names, how about giving some no-names a chance to make a name? Start off the undercard with two undefeated, knockout -minded  WHATEVER WEIGHT (either a heavyweight or a weight in which the main event fighter may one day be mentioned with the no-name winner).

Then feature an undefeated Olympic/amateur standout who's skills make him a should be champ. Then, time permitting, an undefeated, KO-streaking heavyweight, followed by the main event. Other than the starts of the show, this should not be too expensive, if, at all. Unless there are 10 Pacquiao's and 9 Mayweathers there needs to be a few plan B's and C's in place. In the beginning, MMA took off by not relying on heels or heroes. Boxing needs to promote fighters based on potential and not just based on attitude or ethnicity. In the long run, all boxers will benefit and networks will no choice but to broadcast to a broader audience.

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