You can’t always get what you want in life. That reality is no more evident as a boxing fan, when the sports two biggest stars (with only a few pounds separating them), have no real interest in fighting each other. Countless other exciting matchups are left to die by the wayside as the sport’s two biggest promoters – Top Rank and Golden Boy – refuse to do business with each other at nearly every turn (no, lending Daniel Ponce De Leon out for a Yuriorkis Gamboa fight does not count).
Golden Boy has shown something of an interest in cross-promoting, but they’ve become complacent in the status quo and the money that can be kept in house as long as they keep blaming the stalemate on Bob Arum. In the meantime, there are great fights out there that aren’t being made at the expense of the stuffed suit version of chest-thumping bravado and pig-headed stubbornness. Eight of the best Top Rank-Golden Boy fights that could be made are listed below.
Anselmo Moreno (GB) vs. Nonito Donaire (TR): Moreno is the man left all alone in the bantamweight division after the defection of Donaire and Abner Mares, so Moreno’s move up in weight might not be too far behind. There’s a chance this fight could be a stinker, as Donaire is at his best when faced with an attacking threat whose mistakes he can turn into instant offense, but it would be exactly what people ask for (and sometimes complain about when it actually happens); one of the best little guys fighting another of the best little guys.
Nonito Donaire (TR) vs. Abner Mares (GB): 18 months ago I would have said Donaire would make easy work of Mares, who was younger, more raw, and unpolished at the time. Mares, who at 26 has not yet reached his physical peak, has been through somewhat of a murderer’s row since 2010 and has gotten better each time out. Across the ring would be a Nonito Donaire who seems to have fallen in love with himself and has traded away the basics (that will lead to a homerun punch) for impatiently looking for the homerun punch. This fight is much closer than it was, and would decide who the top dog in the super bantamweight division is.
Vanes Martirosyan (TR) vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (GB): Martirosyan won’t pass up an opportunity to tell anyone within earshot that he’s the best jr. middleweight in the world and nobody will fight him. But the reality is he’s either pricing himself out of shots at Canelo or the politics are keeping him on a steady diet of C-and-D-level contenders. Martirosyan-Alvarez would be a great fight between two young guys with defensive flaws, and a loss on either side won’t do any permanent damage to their reputation.
Brandon Rios (TR) vs. Lucas Matthysse and/or Marcos Maidana (GB): Now that Brandon Rios has officially eaten himself out of the lightweight division and his move up to 140 has all but been solidified with the announcement that he’d be facing Mike Alvarado next, the possibility of a Rios-Matthysse/Maidana fight would have hardcore fans chomping at the bit if not for the petty pissing contest between Top Rank and Golden Boy. Networks would jump at this type of matchup, and it would likely sell well in Texas (it pains me to recommend a fight be held in Texas), the birthplace of Brandon Rios.
Victor Ortiz (GB) vs. Brandon Rios (TR): There is genuine bad blood between these two, and it’s a shame that politics will probably keep them out of the same ring, because their styles mixed together have potential written all over it.
Vanes Martirosyan (TR) vs. James Kirkland (GB): Like a potential Vanes-Canelo matchup, Martirosyan-Kirkland matches two aggressive jr. middleweights with little concern for defense. The winner would hopefully get a shot at Canelo Alvarez, if the WBC would give a thought to even allowing it.
Abner Mares (GB) vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux (TR): Unlike the previous fights on this list, this likely won’t land on any fight of the year lists, as Rigondeaux is a patient, controlled offensive threat with the athleticism and reflexes to serve as a good defense. Mares, who is versatile enough to box from the outside and brawl in close quarters, would have to work to find openings around the sparse openings provided by Rigondeaux. After all, there’s a reason Donaire wants no part of Rigondeaux, despite sharing the same promoter.
Danny Garcia (GB) vs. Brandon Rios (TR): A recurring theme here has been Brandon Rios crossing the aisle and trading leather with a Golden Boy fighter, and it continues here with a potential fight between WBC/WBA jr. welterweight champion, Danny Garcia, and the aforementioned Rios. As of the time of publication, Rios is untested at 140 pounds and the steadily-improving Garcia would provide a second test should Rios beat Alvarado in October…not to mention a damn good fight.
One fight intentionally omitted from this list is the infamous mega-fight that just won’t happen: Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. We’re closing in on three years now; isn’t it obvious that neither side is serious about making an effort to make the richest fight in history? The rest all involve guys who are on the way up and would make for great television that even the bitchiest of the boxing media couldn’t find too much to bitch about.
So pretty please, with sugar and a big maraschino cherry on top, give peace a fuckin’ chance, Top Rank and Golden Boy. Everyone’s a winner in the end.