During the week I had a chance to speak with renowned US boxing writer and commentator Steve Kim. Our interview covered all things the sweet science in the end, in what turned out to be a very enjoyable natter and insight into the modern day noble art landscape.
Steve is a guy known for speaking his mind on topics in professional boxing and having built up an extensive amount of experience in the media industry over the years, his knowledgeable candidness has always been something I’ve enjoyed since getting started out in boxing media over the last few years myself.
As our conversation started off, I wanted to get Steve’s opinion on the US boxing scene and the state of boxing as a whole, to which he said:
“The state of American boxing right now I think is in a state of flux or transition. We still don’t know exactly what the future is, if there is one for the PBC and how that is going to affect everybody. I’ve always said and just to steal a phrase from Larry Merchant, ‘Ain’t nothing going to save it, ain’t nothing going to kill it’. It will (boxing) always be around the question is, in what form? One thing I’ve learned in my relatively short stint in covering boxing is, boxing will always find a way to reinvent itself one way or the other – either with new fighters, new platforms or new rivalries.”
Touching on the UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts’ rise to prominence in recent years, Steve added:
“I think the UFC’s presence has actually been healthy for boxing in one respect. It makes the promoters or the powers from getting completely complacent against it’s own consumers. UFC has made some great strides and we see it all the time, they are not doing some of the things that boxing has fallen prey too. They’re making more of the match ups that their fans want and giving more value to their consumers – something boxing can learn from.”
Our chat then moved to the currently booming British boxing market. I wanted to get his view on it and if he’s looking to get over to the UK to cover a major fight soon:
“That is on my bucket list to cover a major fight in the UK. I’ve said for a while that I think the UK has the best boxing atmosphere on the scene. I think the Jorge Linares-Crolla fight this past weekend was another example of that.”
Our dialogue then moved onto boxing stars Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. Straight off the bat Steve was quick to point out he believes Canelo’s boxing skills are underrated in some quarters:
“I certainly don’t think he’s just a creation of marketing. I do think he has a lot of ability.”
On the fight with Golovkin, when it does eventually happen he said:
“I certainly don’t think it’s an easy fight for Golovkin. I know some people think that is a blow out. I really don’t see it that way. I think if you take away one punch from Jose Cotto, Canelo has been very sturdy. I think he has a good chin, built well and is physically strong. Golovkin is there in a sense that he leaves himself in harms way. That’s just his style, that’s his mentality and he certainly trusts his chin. But I do think Canelo has a very good jab and I think he has tools. He is physically strong and I think he has a lot of confidence. He certainly is a guy that boxes with an almost certain amount of arrogance, a certain belief in his own skill set. Guys like that generally have been at the top level. I don’t think guys like that get blown out of the water.”
On accusations from fans in some quarters that questioned whether Canelo and his team were ducking a ‘GGG’ fight, Steve disagreed:
“I don’t think they ducked the fight. I think the delayed the fight until September of next year. I do think if Golovkin and Canelo keep winning I do think things will come to a crescendo next September. If they delay the fight to a point where people start to just say,’ Hey you’re avoiding the fight’, I don’t care how popular Canelo is with his core fan base, it’s the other fans, the general fans of the sport, I think they will certainly not support that product on paper view and there comes a point of diminishing returns. It comes a point do you cook this fight, absolutely, but you better not get to a point where you overcook it.”
Speaking on the month of November shaping up to be an excellent month for boxing in 2016 Kim said:
“Well November makes up for a very, very bleak October and it can’t get here soon enough. On Pacquiao-Vargas, well, I don’t know how competitive that fight is going to be but I think it will be an entertaining fight. I’m really looking forward to (Jessie) Magdaleno vs (Nonito) Donaire. I think that’s a very good fight that has a chance to have a lot of two way action and we’ll see if there’s a changing off a guard there between an older lion and a hungry young fighter.”
On Kovalev vs Ward specifically he noted:
“Kovalev-Ward is a great match up but I don’t know if it’s a great fight, given the fact that Andre Ward is very good at what he does which is to neutralise and be really defensive. It’s a good match up at least on paper, my hope is that it’s a good fight on the canvas. Lomcahenko-Walters was just recently announced by Top Rank, I don’t know what form Walters is going to show given the fact he’s been so inactive. But I think that’s another very good match up and it would be another really notable feather in the cap for Vasyl Lomachenko if he’s able to win that fight handily. November looks like a very fun month for boxing.”
As our chat came towards an end, I wanted to get his view on how boxing is changing at the moment and made reference to a recent interview he conducted with promoter Bob Arum who for the first time in a long time next month, will be distributing Manny Pacquiao’s fight on against Jessie Vargas without the help of a major network:
“The business changes a lot and is constantly evolving. I believe that the Pacquiao-Vargas pay per view could be the first real big step for Top Rank executing on a much more consistent basis what Arum has talked about, in essence not only being the content providers, but the content distributors. The great part of that is boxing fans and promoters might provide more content and be able to move fighters more. More activity for the boxers to develop their talent.”
“Here’s the down side. The downside is it may create more division. Let’s say the two or three major promoters start creating their own networks. At that point you are getting a different version of HBO and Showtime. So you kind of have to look at what the impact would be of such measures. Lets say two fighters in a weight class are really built up well by Golden Boy and Top Rank and they seem to be an a collision course and each promotional company say, wait a minute, we want it on our website or our network? That could be a Pandora’s box that opens up there.”
(Image source and credit: Steve Kim Facebook)
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