Welcome to our Deputy Editor’s “Speculative Fiction”, the best thing to happen to “crap we found on the Internet” since Tosh.0…
Artur Szpilka (13-0, 10 KOs) looked about as bad as it is possible for the winner of a knockout in boxing to look against Mike Mollo on the Internet-special Friday Night Fights dessert on ESPN3 two weeks ago. Mollo, despite having a long layoff and despite what was, in theory, an enormous gap in talent, scored one for the toughman and made a bunch of new fans in the process. Your columnist, writing for The Boxing Tribune at the time, said of Szpilka’s Pyrrhic victory that he couldn’t have made any worse of an impression if he’d actually been knocked out.
Well, on the subject of giant Eastern Europeans not named Klitschko moving up the heavyweight ranks, Magomed Abdusalamov (16-0, 16 KOs) has been announced as having a date on the Worldwide Leader’s Friday showcase against Victor Bisbal (21-1, 15 KOs) on March 8.
The ESPN Friday Night Fights Facebook page, in addition to being your columnist’s favorite hangout during the live action (where Teddy Atlas himself said of me “who does he think he is, Ray Arcel?” on-air during the Mike Dallas Jr.-Miguel Gonzalez fight a year ago), is also a very interesting place to hunt for ideas for great boxing matchups. Someone suggested that Mago fight Szpilka next if he gets past Bisbal (who, with his suspect chin, seems a puffed-up record in search of a fist to the face).
Your columnist’s response was simple: “All I can see from Szpilka if they offer him Mago would be a pair of brown pants and a refusal.” But let’s say they put that fight on. Both guys have an in with ESPN, both guys are familiar to American audiences, and both guys are big heavyweights who are relatively untested against good competition. You tellin’ me that’s not a great fight waiting to happen?
True, there’s no talk, not even a psychotic man’s idea of a rumor, that suggests there’s even a 0.00001% chance of these guys fighting, at least not while they’re both undefeated. But hot damn, if ever there were a time to call out the matchmakers at the Worldwide Leader and say “make this fight happen”, this has got to be it, right?
This is just one more reason why we need the Badass World Championship boxing belt. Not a belt for the best fighters the way the alphabet soup organizations or even Ring Magazine do their rankings. This would be a belt for brawlers, knockout artists, toughmen, and TV fighters, and our ratings panel can and will strip fighters for not looking awesome enough in their battles. Judges would be instructed to award extra points for cuts caused by punches (but not by accidental head butts. There’s a big difference between some billy goat playing Skull Smash and what John Molina did to Rob Frankel on FNF in 2011.) Lose a pint of blood, win a 10-8 round.
Champions? Guys like Ruslan Provodnikov and Magomed Abdusalamov and Lucian Bute leap immediately to mind. Juan Manuel Marquez deserves a mention in the pound-for-pound by these criteria.
Tell me it wouldn’t have pay-per-view potential. Go ahead. Now get me a network that will televise these fights and get the fighters the money their particular brand of talent deserves.