IN A CLASSIC case of mistaken identity, it’s actually Jermell Charlo who will be fighting Canelo Alvarez in September, not his twin brother Jermall. Whoops! It was officially confirmed that Jermell – who operates at 154lbs – will jump up to super-middleweight and face Alvarez in Las Vegas. According to those same reports Jermell stepped in at the last minute when his brother made it clear he would not be ready in time due to his inactivity and personal issues he’s currently dealing with.
That makes for a nice story, but an unlikely one. Unfortunately, the article can longer be found, but a couple of weeks ago a reporter from a Houston newspaper wrote about how Jermell (not Jermall) will be fighting Canelo in September. Likewise, Showtime broadcaster Brian Custer tweeted that he has known Jermell would be Canelo’s next opponent for a while and has found it difficult keeping the news under wraps. That tweet has since been deleted.
Jermall, a middleweight, took part in some video interviews a few weeks ago and looked noticeably heavy. Even then he did not look like someone who could realistically fight Alvarez in a few months.
So, it’s a little odd that respected boxing reporters are spreading the story of Jermell stepping in for his brother at the last minute without questioning it much. There’s also not been much mention of the fact that Canelo and Jermell were both ‘world’ super-welterweight champions at the same time about seven years ago, but didn’t fight each other, and are now doing so with one having to jump two weight divisions. It’s not a big deal and it may well have been a case of Canelo pivoting to Jermell when it became clear Jermall would not be ready, but it’s unlikely to have been a snapshot decision as is being reported.
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, ESPN recently laid off some of its on-air talent, including boxing’s Max Kellerman. According to the New York Post, who broke the news, Kellerman was earning a staggering $5 million per year at ESPN, which goes some way in explaining why he’s been let go. His talents had also been spread to analysing the NBA, as well as boxing, on ESPN – a move that came with mixed results.
Kellerman, who initially rose to prominence in boxing at HBO, is an exceptional broadcaster and it will be fascinating to see what he does next in the sport. The likes of DAZN and Showtime must surely be preparing offers for his services.
ESPN.com published the first in a new series of columns dubbed ‘How to Fix Boxing’ and the solution proffered in this one was simply to “make the big fights.” While it’s undoubtedly true that boxing has suffered as a result of its inability to get the best to fight the best, the timing of this particular article is bizarre. Already this year we’ve had Gervonta Davis vs Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney vs Vasiliy Lomachenko already this year, and later this month we’re getting a monster clash between Errol Spence and Terence Crawford as well as the mouth-watering showdown between Naoya Inoue and Stephen Fulton.
2023 is shaping up to be one of the best years for big boxing fights in recent memory. ESPN’s column barely acknowledges this. It also focuses on a lot of the issues that prevent big fights being made – promoters not working with one another, inflated purses creating unrealistic expectations – without offering up much of a solution. There are a few quotes from promoters about how boxing fans couldn’t possibly understand the intricacies of fight negotiations – that is to say there is nothing new here.
The Guardian published a feature about Eddie Hearn, wherein writer Simon Hattenstone visited the promoter at Matchroom HQ in Essex. Much of the article focuses on Hearn’s early life, treading over ground that most of us within boxing already know. Sadly there’s not quite as much emphasis on where Hearn is now: attempting to make a mark in the US that no British promoter has yet managed, including Hearn’s father Barry.
And Barry is a throughline in this feature – Eddie speaks about the impact his father has had on him and his career. There is also discussion of Eddie’s almost pathological commitment to his work. But a thread that isn’t pulled is the connection between the two, that Hearn’s constant need to always be working hard and proving himself may come from the fact that he comes from such a privileged background and refuses to be seen as what is now referred to as a ‘nepo baby.’ This is all just pseudo-psychology, of course.
He does also reflect on the relentless nature of his work life and how this may eventually take its toll. But Hattenstone quite wisely remains unconvinced – it doesn’t appear to be in Hearn’s nature to slow down. Some folks turn their noses up at promoters like Hearn getting big features like this rather than the fighters themselves, but the likes of Hearn, Frank Warren, Bob Arum and others are all fascinating figures with bundles of stories to tell. They’re also some of the most influential people in the sport – it’s always worth lifting the lid on their lives and minds.
Warren joined talkSPORT on BBC Radio for a discussion of all things boxing and was grilled on what’s happening with Tyson Fury. He was asked about potential fights with MMA superstars Jon Jones and Francis Ngannou, insisting that those fights could be made before revealing that Tyson’s next opponent is almost confirmed and could be a “game-changer.”
Connecting the dots, it would seem Warren is referring to Ngannou. The only other options that could realistically be described in that way are Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk, neither of whom are going to be fighting Fury next.
And even then, an Ngannou fight wouldn’t really be changing the game. We’ve seen this before (Mayweather-McGregor) and it sucked.
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