Saturday, February 27, 2010

Only a Scandal Can Save Hopkins vs. Jones II

Roy Jones, Jr. (left) and Bernard Hopkins will meet in April - 17 years after their first fight.

If a fight happens and no one is there to see it - is it still a fight?

That's the question many are asking as Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones, Jr. prepare to meet again on April 3 in Las Vegas. Never mind that Hopkins is 45-years-old and Jones is 41. Never mind that Jones was starched in one round a couple of months ago by Australia's Danny Green.

Their big fight on April 3 is being billed as "The Rivals" - but unless something happens soon, the Mandalay Bay Events Center is going to be an empty vessel. Not many will be pressing the "buy" button on their television remote controls and Golden Boy Promotions may have to seriously consider pulling the plug on this entire ill-fated affair.

Besides the fact their first bout, way back in 1993, was enough to put a meth addict to sleep, this fight couldn't be happening at a more inopportune time.

This bout is sandwiched in between two huge pay-per-view affairs featuring Manny Pacquiao versus Joshua Clottey on March 13 and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. versus Shane Mosley on May 1. Both of thoe affairs have fifty-dollar price tags attached to them.

In this economy, what boxing fan has the confidence to shell out over $150 in pay-per-view costs in a span of seven weeks? Furthermore, were a fan considering attending one of these three fights in person, certainly Pacquiao-Clottey at Jerry Jones' lavish Cowboys Stadium is already a winner since over 30,000 tickets have been purchased.

Hopkins (left) and Jones were all business during the press tour to hype their upcoming rematch.

It is likely that boxing fans are apt to skip the April 3 bout in Las Vegas featuring Hopkins and Jones and wait instead, to see Mayweather and Mosley on May 1.

Neither Hopkins or Jones has much of a following in the southwest. Jones is from Florida, Hopkins is from Philadelphia. On the other hand, Mayweather is a Las Vegas resident as well as a bonafide attraction on "The Strip". Moley is from California. As a result, their fight should sell very well in Sin City.

Another factor here is that Mayweather vs. Mosley is considered a very competitive match-up. Both men also have very good name recognition with the mainstream public. While Hopkins and Jones also possess name recognition, they are more curiosities at this point in their careers. Most ask - "Are those two still fighting?"

So, what can save the Hopkins vs. Jones promotion from total implosion?

Well, both guys have been in the game for many, many years. Hopkins turned pro in 1988 and Jones in 1989. They both are well aware of the state of the economy, the state of boxing and both are aware that fans view them as tired, old warhorses and virtual museum relics. In short, these guys know the business side of the sport as well as anyone.

You remember what took place when Hopkins faced Winky Wright in a similarly tough sell in July 2007?

Hopkins confronted Wright at the officail weigh-in, words were exchanged and Hopkins pushed Wright's face with his hand. That resulted in an all out melee. But Hopkins was intelligent enough to know this would make the reruns of SportsCenter as well as be the footnote to nightly newscasts across the country. It would also make headlines in newspapers around the world.

Hopkins (left) attempted to drum up interest in his bout with Winky Wright by placing his hand on Wright's face and giving it a shove.

Some called Hopkins, "Crazy like a fox" because he was aware this behavior would likely result in more pay-per-view purchases. It was a contrived and calculated action in order to help shore up the shaky bottom line. Hopkins even noted that he only did what he did to to aid the pay-per-view. He miscalculated because the Nevada State Athletic Commission fined him $200,000 - but it was worth a try.

So, don't be surprised if something scandalous takes place within the next several weeks - certainly before April 3.

Maybe some sort of rumor or innuendo. Maybe some sort of something that will make you click on an Internet link, leave the channel on SportsCenter until after the break or make you pick up the newspaper so you can turn to the sports page.

Both Hopkins and Jones are aware this fight is drowning in its own sea of indifference and that it needs something (a scandal perhaps?) to make people pay attention to it. The fight needs something to garner attention from the two fights that are squeezing the money from it on both ends.

Maybe steroids? Maybe Tiger Woods like infidelity? Maybe the fact that Bernard Hopkins is injecting Geritol and Roy Jones, Jr. is ingesting Centrum Silver?

I don't know. But it's going to take some sort of contrived, newsworthy item for boxing fans to shell out bucks for this one.

Otherwise, there could be a fight on April 3 - and nobody will be there to see it.

February 2010

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My favourite boxer of all time is Roy Jones. The first time I knew about him was last year. As I am from the Pacific we only heard much about Mike Tyson. Since the first time I saw him on youtube i can't stop watching him, its like I'm posses to watch him everyday.

This is a fight for legacy who is the best of this two Legends. So I disagree with your comments about trying to scandal the fight, they may hype the fight but its not scandalous.. As you know Roy is special and so is Bernard.

Guys I am not from USA I live in Vanuatu in the South Pacific and I wish I live in USA to watch Roy fight. Even he's old now but one of a kind, if I live in USA I will pay my hard earn money to watch him.

Patrick Naut