In an up and down year that saw part of my subscription money go to the likes of Ishe Smith and Travis Walker, HBO has saved the worst for next to last as they are about to reach a new low this Saturday.
Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola and Brian “The Beast” Minto, on the Paul Williams-Sergio Martinez undercard, represent maybe the crappiest fighters to ever share the ring in the entire history of HBO Boxing.
Off hand, I can’t think of any contest in their storied history that featured two fighters as skill-deficient as this one. Sure, we’ve seen set-ups to build a fighter’s rep and publicity, but one of the two fighters is usually a world class star or a star-in-the making. Arreola-Minto is pure Shobox material featuring two guys with ESPN2 skill-sets. Remember the days when HBO represented the very best? If it was on Home Box Office, it was something special.
Now, we get the second coming of Joe Hipp vs. the reincarnation of Joe Mesi.
I can’t recall HBO ever falling so deeply in love with a fighter that ranks so slightly above the club level, but they are hopelessly enamored with Chris Arreola.
Yeah, Arreola does draw attention and he’s proven to bring in ratings, but is this what HBO has resorted to; A cynical attempt to appeal to morbid curiosity and the Mexican-American community? Isn’t this the network that refused to televise Butterbean because of the freak show aspect of his bouts and his obvious lack of skill?
Well, now, in the absence of real boxing people behind the scenes at HBO Sports, we get the equivalent of a rusted pickup truck racing a 1988 Volkswagen Bug around the Indy 500 track.
I’m not even talkng about whether the fight will be competitive or fun, because it’ll probably be both; Arreola and Minto are about at the same level and that usually means a solid matchup, but I’m just lamenting the days when good fighters used to be all the rage and guys like “The Nightmare” and “The Beast” actually worked on their skills to someday be good enough to make it on HBO.
The sad part is that if the boo-birds come out at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Saturday, they’ll more likely be directed at Paul Williams and Sergio Martinez than Arreola or Minto.
In retrospect, maybe this pairing says more about the mindset of the average fight fan these days than about HBO’s ability to put together a quality show.
Maybe the execs at HBO are giving us exactly what we want…Man, wouldn’t that be sad?