Remember when people said boxing was dead?

Updated 25 April 2017

Remember when people said boxing was dead?

Madison Square Garden was filled with 20,000 boxing fans last month, and they were treated to Gennady Golovkin, Danny Jacobs and a spectacular night of fights.
This week, 90,000 fans are expected to jam London’s Wembley Stadium for the most significant heavyweight fight in a long time. British Olympic gold medalist Anthony Joshua meets former champion Wladimir Klitschko in a title fight that figures to put a charge into a division that has been neglected for far too long.
A week after that, Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. meet in a Mexican showdown in a pay-per-view bout that sold out on the Las Vegas Strip right after it was announced.
Oh yeah, Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev will fight in June in a rematch of their light heavyweight title showdown last November.
The party line has long been that boxing is dead. Crippled by greedy promoters and a lack of heavyweights, it was finally killed off by the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight two years ago that lived up to its billing as the richest fight ever, though certainly not the best.
The truth is, boxing is showing plenty of life. Even the biggest star in mixed martial arts can not wait to get a piece of it.
Conor McGregor has no chance against Floyd Mayweather Jr. Not in a boxing ring, though in an octagon, it would likely be a different story.
Still, the riches are far greater than McGregor can make in the UFC. And UFC chieftain Dana White says he w will not stand in the way of McGregor making money. He believes the fight will happen.
Yes, Mayweather-McGregor is more a freak show than a fight, but there is still plenty for boxing fans to get excited about. They do not have to wait long for Saturday’s fight between Joshua and Klitschko, which will be televised by both Showtime and HBO.
“Obviously, the jewel of the crown is the big heavyweight fight,” said Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president for Showtime Sports. “It sort of feels like a throwback to the golden eras of boxing when you had big worldwide heavyweight title fights and everyone knew who the champion was.”
The fight matches Klitschko, who dominated the heavyweight division for the better part of a decade, against Joshua, who has won all 17 of his fights by knockout. It will either mark Klitschko’s renaissance after an embarrassing loss to Tyson Fury in 2015 or serve as the passing of the torch to a young and vibrant new champion.
Either way it figures to rekindle interest in a division that has had little to captivate fans in recent years.
“It’s gotten more exciting since I left the top,” Klitschko said. “It’s not as boring as it was with me during all these years. You can like me or hate me, but when one person conquers all it is boring. I totally get it.”
In boxing-mad England, the fight is such a huge deal that all 90,000 tickets sold out quickly. Joshua owns the titles that will be at stake, and American heavyweight Deontay Wilder, who owns the WBC version of the title, will be at ringside hoping to meet the winner.
Just as big for Mexican boxing fans will be the middleweight fight a week later in Las Vegas between the red-haired Alvarez, an established star, and Chavez Jr., a son of the legendary former champion.
If Alvarez wins as oddsmakers expect him to, it could set up an even bigger fight in the fall against Golovkin, the power puncher from Kazakhstan who now lives in Los Angeles. Golovkin sold out Madison Square Garden last month for his narrow win over Jacobs, showing some vulnerability that may help lure what has so far been a reluctant Alvarez into the ring against him.
Espinoza believes that both promoters and fighters have realized that in a competitive market for live events, boxing has had to move to provide better matchups if fans are to pay attention.
And he says that is precisely what is starting to happen.
“Without a doubt boxing is surging,” he said. “We see that in our ratings and in our digital traffic. What has become clear to those in the boxing industry is that in order to attract attention you’ve got to have signature, high-profile events.”
That includes Joshua and Klitschko and, yes, it probably includes Mayweather-McGregor. Eventually it could include a stable of Olympic fighters signed by Bob Arum and others who may turn into big stars.
The matchups are intriguing, and the response from boxing fans has been huge.
Something to think about the next time you hear that boxing is dead.


VAR denies Manchester City again in latest wild Premier League match with Tottenham

Updated 17 August 2019

VAR denies Manchester City again in latest wild Premier League match with Tottenham

  • Gabriel Jesus thought he scored the winner in the second minute of injury time
  • VAR — new to the league this season — ruled the ball reached Jesus off the arm of Aymeric Laporte

LONDON: Four months later, Manchester City was denied another crucial late goal against Tottenham by an intervention from the video assistant referee.
Gabriel Jesus thought he scored the winner in the second minute of injury time in a wild English Premier League match at Etihad Stadium on Saturday when he curled home a finish after the ball landed at his feet following a corner. The Brazil striker waved and danced in front of City’s jubilant fans, unaware the on-field referee had been told the goal was under review.
VAR — new to the league this season — ruled the ball reached Jesus off the arm of Aymeric Laporte as the City defender stretched to head it. Newly implemented rules say a foul should be awarded if a goal is scored from an accidental handball.
The goal was disallowed, much to the anger of Jesus and City’s frustrated fans, and the match finished 2-2. The final whistle was greeted with loud boos inside the stadium as the English champions dropped points in the second match of their title defense.
Back in April, almost the exact same thing happened to City when Spurs visited for a Champions League match. On that occasion, Raheem Sterling had a goal disallowed for offside by VAR in the third minute of injury time, denying City a place in the semifinals.
City manager Pep Guardiola didn’t drop to his knees and look as crestfallen like he did in April. Instead he engaged in conversation with Tottenham counterpart Mauricio Pochettino in the technical area as confusion reigned around him.
“I thought we left that situation against Tottenham in the Champions League last season. But it is the same,” Guardiola said. “The referee and VAR disallow it. It’s the second time, it’s tough. It’s honestly tough.”
Guardiola will wonder how his team didn’t win.
Twice taking the lead in the first half, through Sterling and then Sergio Aguero, City was twice pegged back by Tottenham, first by Erik Lamela and then by Lucas Moura 14 seconds after he entered the field as a substitute.
The diminutive Brazil winger ran straight toward the penalty area to line up for his team’s corner and rose highest — somewhat improbably — to send a glancing header looping into the net in the 56th.
Aguero was substituted soon after that goal and exchanged some strong words on the sideline with Guardiola as he sat down. The pair was seen embracing near the end of the match, however, suggesting they patched up their differences.
The result leaves City two points behind Liverpool, the team expected again to be its biggest rival for the title.
Liverpool beat Southampton 2-1 earlier.
ADRIAN’S CRAZY WEEK
In the space of nine days, Spanish goalkeeper Adrian has made his Liverpool debut as an injury substitute, saved the decisive penalty to win the club the UEFA Super Cup, got injured by a pitch-invading fan, and made an embarrassing error in a Premier League game.
To say it has been a roller-coaster start to life at Anfield would be an understatement.
Adrian, an offseason signing filling in for the injured Alisson Becker, was a doubt for Liverpool’s match at Southampton after a fan slid into the goalkeeper’s ankle while the team celebrated his crucial penalty stop in a shootout win over Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday. He was declared fit on the morning of the match and made some good saves before Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino put Liverpool 2-0 up at St. Mary’s.
Adrian ensured there was a nervy finish when he kicked a clearance straight at Southampton striker Danny Ings and saw the ball rebound into the net in the 83rd.
Liverpool hung on, though, for a second straight win after beating Norwich.
PUKKI PEAKING
Teemu Pukki scored a division-high 29 goals to proper Norwich to the second-tier League Championship title last season.
He cannot stop scoring in the Premier League, either.
After his consolation goal at Anfield on the opening weekend, the Finland striker added another three in dismantling sorry Newcastle as top-flight soccer returned to Carrow Road.
“The guys are creating chances — I could have scored more,” Pukki said.
Newcastle has lost both of its opening games under new manager Steve Bruce.
AUBAMEYANG AGAIN
Another striker to have started the season strongly is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has grabbed winning goals in each of Arsenal’s first two games.
A week after scoring the only goal at Newcastle, Aubameyang led Arsenal to a 2-1 win over Burnley with a shot inside the near post from the edge of the area. He was tied as the top scorer last season with Liverpool attackers Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
The standout player for Arsenal, though, was Dani Ceballos, who is on a season-long loan from Real Madrid. He set up both goals — the first was scored by Alexandre Lacazette — and showed the touch and vision Arsenal has been missing since the departure of another Spanish playmaker, Santi Cazorla.
WINS FOR EVERTON, BOURNEMOUTH
Everton and Bournemouth got their first wins after opening the season with draws.
Brazilian winger Bernard scored in the first half to secure a 1-0 victory for Everton against Watford, while Bournemouth built on a second-minute penalty from Josh King and beat Aston Villa 2-1.
Jack Grealish, the Villa captain, has lost a record 20 straight Premier League games, stretching back to when the team was last in the top flight in 2015-16.
Brighton and West Ham drew 1-1 in the other match.