20/20 Hindsight: When Annointing Someone the Next Big Thing Goes Awry, Plus What to Do About Arthur Abraham

In case you missed Saturday's HBO broadcast of Boxing After Dark, you owe it to yourself to catch a replay. Soon. You won't be disappointed.

Victor Ortiz and Marcos Maidana threw the concepts of feeling each other out and establishing the jab right out the window, deciding early on to just wing power shots early and often. The ensuing collision lasted six rounds, and three of them (Rounds 1, 2 and 5) made this writer yell out loud even though I was watching the fight alone.

It's not very often that you see someone get knocked down three times in the first round and come back to win by TKO, but Maidana pulled it off. Ortiz brought the more well-rounded game to the fight, but the Argentinian had more heart and the better chin. Those qualities plus a wild yet devastating right hand turned out to be enough (barely) to carry the day.

Much of the analysis over the last day or two has focused on what Ortiz did wrong, that he fought the wrong fight and caved when the going got really tough. There's definite truth in the former and perhaps in the latter as well, though it's always easy for us to demand that fighters show the willingness to get carried out on their shields from the safety of our own seats or couches.

Regardless, it was hard to listen to Ortiz's post-fight interview and not feel some sympathy for how discouraged he sounded. Here was a man suggesting that he might have to think hard about continuing his boxing career - and at all of 22 years of age and two career losses.

The unspoken context was that Ortiz felt disappointed not only in his performance, but that he had let so many other people down. This was a boxer who, despite his youth, was getting a massive push from Golden Boy Promotions to become the sport's next huge star.

It's not hard to see why. As Max Kellerman opined in the aftermath of the fight, Ortiz almost seemed too good to be true: touching personal story, skill and power in the ring, good looks, engaging and well-spoken personality. The phrase "total package" may be a cliche, but if Ortiz doesn't qualify, no one does.

Golden Boy's anxiousness is easy to see too. It's three biggest draws, Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins and Shane Mosley, are all retired or headed that way. A company passing of the torch is in order soon.

Despite all that, we were reminded once again that all of the star-making plans in the world can quickly come apart in the ring. Whether it's Alfredo Angulo's lateral mobility issues or Ortiz's shaky chin, boxing can expose any flaws in its crop of young up-and-comers.

Actually, expose may not be the right word, because we're not talking about guys who are finished products. The conclusion is the same, though: in boxing, it's the results in the ring that will ultimately determine who will be the big names in the sport over the next decade.

It's definitely still possible for Ortiz to be one of those names. Maybe now the hype behind him will die down a bit and he'll be able to get back on track toward that goal with a little less pressure.


Arthur Abraham didn't exactly thrill the pants off of viewers with his tenth-round TKO of Mahir Oral on Saturday, but he did what he needed to do. He took his time and played defense until he figured out Oral couldn't hurt him, and he turned up the power in the middle rounds until his opponent couldn't take any more.

King Arthur also said all the right things after the fight about wanting to fight in the U.S. against Kelly Pavlik or any of a number of guys at 168, and he even showed some personality. I'm not sure if that was just for show or if his management is the problem, but it would be really nice to see Abraham in some bigger fights while he's still in his prime.

With his high guard and slow starts, he's not the most exciting fighter around, but he certainly goes for the kill when he senses an opening. He didn't deny that he's having a tough time making 160, so a fight with Pavlik would have to be made pretty quickly.

On the other hand, I can see why Team Pavlik wouldn't be chomping at the bit to put their guy in against Abraham. King Arthur has some holes, but it would take a skilled counterpuncher to best exploit them, and that's not really The Ghost's specialty. Since Abraham doesn't have the name value to help sell tickets in the States, it could seem like the risk/reward ratio just isn't there.

So we might be down to hoping Abraham agrees to fight Pavlik in Ohio or simply announces he's headed for super middleweight right away. He might not be the best boxer in the world, but he's good enough that it would be a shame to see him continue to fight in relative obscurity.

Posted by The Franchise

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