The upcoming Floyd Mayweather versus Conor McGregor event is sandwiched between two bouts that will prove to be far more pivotal to the future of boxing than the August 26th mega-fight. Roughly two weeks after it, Gennady GGG Golovkin and Saul Canelo Alvarez will finally resolve the debate over who is the worlds best middleweight.
And this Saturday on July 29th in Brooklyn, Adrien The Problem Broner will trade blows with Oxnard, Californias Mikey Garcia for junior welterweight supremacy, and more importantly, a pathway toward boxing super stardom.
While the Mayweather vs McGregor fight will bring together fan bases from both boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) and capture the attention of the casual fan, the contest is far more a spectacle than a live fight. More importantly, the bout marks the end of the road for Mayweather, the greatest fighter of his generation and the sports most bankable attraction.
Without Money to sell pay-per-views and spark mainstream interest, the sport of boxing has incessantly been searching for a fighters whose exploits outside of the ring generate as much interest as his excellence within it.
SHOWTIME Boxing analyst and Hall of Famer Steve Farhood takes a look into the boxing career of four-division world champion Adrien Broner. Broner faces undefeated three-division champion Mikey Garcia in a July 29 blockbuster showdown at 9PM ET/6PM PT – live on SHOWTIME.
The contests pitting GGG versus Canelo and Broner versus Garcia are crossroads bouts for the fighters and the sport, which may likely conclude with the coronations of boxings next superstars. While the Mayweather-McGregor scrap is more money grab than mega-fight and, for Mayweather, a conclusion to a historic twenty-one year run.
Mayweather-McGregor is a billion-dollar swan song for Floyd, which has little bearing on the sport of boxing. But for Broner and Garcia, their bout is a crossroads fight that will mark the start of a run toward stardom for the victor, and very likely, mark a new beginning for the next great American boxing superstar.
Crossroads and Coronations
The GGG and Canelo fight has generated broader interest than Broner/Garcia, but the junior welterweight bout may be more important for the state of boxing in the United States. Although Canelo commands a still swelling fan base in Mexico, the United States and the broader Spanish-speaking world, and GGG a favorite on grounds of a perfect record (37-0), an aggressive fan-friendly style, and an incredible knockout ration (33 knockouts), the natives of Mexico and Kazakhstan have not been able to connect with American fight fans beyond the ring.
Their command of English is, at best, rudimentary, and their narratives, interests, and personalities are largely foreign to the average American fight fan. They are must watch TV for the hardcore boxing enthusiast, but theyre limited commodities that have been unable to mobilize mainstream interest beyond their niche markets. Although both fighters will continue to thrive in the sport, and likely clash again after September 16th, they lack the intangibles to emerge into the sort of character that can transcend boxing, like Mayweather did, to capture mainstream interest and capitalize on mass pay-per-view success.
Broner and Garcia, who are 33-2 and 36-0 respectively, are well equipped inside and outside of the ring to vie for superstardom. Broner, a brash and volatile firebrand from Cincinnati, has emulated the unbridled materialism and money-throwing Mayweather blueprint to generate an undeniable buzz and following.
His ring entrances feel like rap videos, and his swagger and rags-to-riches climb has mass appeal. While Garcia, who hails from a heralded boxing family and gym, is poised to capture the imagination of the coveted Mexican American fan base with his punching power, rough-and-tumble roots, and a surname synonymous with boxing royalty.
Broner or Garcia are two names that have long been on the cusp of greatness. One of them, after July 29th, will be move from cusp to crown.
Four-division world champion Adrien “The Problem” Broner and three-division world champion Mikey Garcia will face in a blockbuster matchup – live Saturday, July 29 at 9PM ET/6PM PT on SHOWTIME.
Life After Money
The Black and Mexican American fight fans are two of boxings principal lifelines. For a sport gradually being usurped by MMA, powered by the mass exodus of its white ban base, the value of superstar fighters that resonate with these two coveted demographics cannot be understated. Particularly with the virtual extinction of a bona fide American boxer that can claim the mantle of the Great White Hope, boxing is heavily reliant on these two communities to sustain itself.
The racial interplay that pits white versus black fighter, as vividly illustrated in the Mayweather-McGregor spectacle and boxings storied history, is a potent promotional tool, but so are other racial rivalries that galvanize ethnic communities behind a fighter that represents them. Race and racial rivalry are cornerstones of the boxing promotions, and a surefire way to market fighters and reel in the communities they hail from.
The rivalry pitting Mexican versus African American is as storied a binary as there is in the sport. Classic rivalries between the likes of Julio Cesar Chavez and Pernell Whitaker, Chavez versus Meldrick Taylor, and Oscar De La Hoya trading blows with Mayweather comes to mind. The Broner versus Garcia fight, which brings together two boxers with supreme skill inside the ring and compelling stories beyond it, promises to be the next great installment of this series. Styles make fights, and Broners careful counterpunching and fast hands combined with Garcias heavy-handed boxer-puncher repertoire has whet the appetite of boxing fans, and has many boxing pundits calling it a 50/50 fight.
Broner has never shied away from appealing to race and racism, which has a long and checked history in the sport of boxing, to promote his brand. Following a victory over Mexican American fighter Carlos Molina in 2014, Broner taunted, Anybody can get it. Afri-cans, I just beat the f–k out of a Mexi-can.
His words set off a firestorm of criticism, and angered Mexican fans and fighters everywhere. On July 17, less than two weeks before the fight, Broners trainer Mike Stafford intensified the ethnic rivalry, stating, We never lost to a Mexican.
Garcia, the most viable candidate to assume the mantle of Mexican American boxing king, offers an opportunity to not only silence Broner and his team, but to give his people the pound-for-pound king and the Mexican Warrior theyve long idolized and loyally supported.
From Cusp to Crown
Both Broner and Garcia have publicly stated that a victory on July 29th would propel them toward superstardom. And they are right. For Broner, who took losses on step up fights against Marcos Maidana and Shawn Porter, beating Garcia would finally add a victory over an A-level fighter to his resume.
For Garcia, who boasts a perfect mark and the skill set of marquee fighter, beating Broner would transform him from an underground boxing favorite to a known commodity in the mainstream and, very likely, a staple pay-per-view fighter for many years to come.
Undefeated former world champion Mikey Garcia talks to Sports Emmy Award-Winning Writer Mark Kriegel in advance of his highly anticipated return to the ring.
En route to those goals, a Garcia victory may open the door for him to lay claim to the coveted Cinco de Mayo fight date, which Mexicans surrendered to Mayweather for the better part of a decade. Canelo has his eyes on that date, but Garcias flair inside the ring and ability to connect with Mexican American fight fans makes him a viable contender to make it his fighting stage.
Broner, who thrives in his role as the brash and troubled carbon copy of Mayweather, also has his eyes set on boxings highest stages. And if he can finally muster up a performance that measures up to his potential and personality, the Problem might very well make good on his promise to take over boxing. He already possesses a huge following and commands huge paydays, and a signature victory would solidify him as one of the sports biggest attractions.
The stakes are high for Broner and Garcia, and for the man whose hand will be raised on July 29th in Brooklyns Barclays Center, the spotlight will be far stronger moving forward. Its a spotlight that will permanently shift away from Mayweather on August 29th, and shine bright on the next great American fighter the sport so desperately seeks to crown.