As boxers worldwide are sidelined while the sports world (and almost everything else) is shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, promotional companies are doing their best to keep fighters in front of the public eye. Eddie Hearn, the head of Matchroom Sports, has been conducting a regular series of live streams on his Instagram account, for example, as he talks to some of his fighters.
Hearn's recent guests include Mikey Garcia, Dmitry Bivol, Cecilia Braekhus and Joseph Parker, as well as social media star Logan Paul, who recently made his professional boxing debut against KSI on a Matchroom-promoted card in November.
Here are some of the highlights from these segments:
Mikey Garcia (40-1, 30 KOs)
The four-time world titleholder is coming off a hard-fought 12-round decision over Jessie Vargas on Feb. 29 in Frisco, Texas, in what was his first victory as a welterweight. Last year, in his welterweight debut, Garcia lost a unanimous decision to Errol Spence Jr. Garcia admits that this isn't his optimal weight class.
"I know I'm not a welterweight, and I would definitely be better at a lower weight class like 140. But I believe that my ability and my talent, my experience will allow me to compete at the highest level -- even at the 147-pound limit, even against the top guys," Garcia said. "That's why I decided to stay at welterweight to try to secure big fights where I can show everybody that my talent is much better than they've ever seen."
The 32-year-old Garcia would like to get a rematch with Spence, but he also has his eyes on a showdown with WBA welterweight belt-holder Manny Pacquiao, who last summer dethroned the previously undefeated Keith Thurman to win the title.
"I think styles make fights," said Garcia, whose patient counter-punching style could give Pacquiao trouble. "He's not a tall, lanky fighter that can complicate things like Errol Spence did."
While both are southpaws, that's where the similarities end.
"[Pacquiao] is a lot smaller in size, he's short in height, doesn't have the reach like some of these other welterweights," Garcia pointed out. "So I think it's much better [for him] to get an entertaining fight with me. I think it just fits right."
Garcia, who has won world titles at featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight, recalls the time he moved around the ring with Pacquiao as a sparring partner, and says that he was able to successfully employ some of the same tactics that Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez did in giving Pacquiao problems throughout their memorable rivalries with the Filipino icon.
"We did very well -- it was only a sparring session but I felt good. I was able to time him, use my height, my jab effectively, and I think that fight makes the best sense, right now, to prove to everybody that I can be a world champion at the welterweight limit," Garcia said.
Logan Paul (0-1)
Paul, the noted YouTuber with more than 21 million subscribers, participated in his first sanctioned professional boxing match last November, losing a sixth-round decision to his archnemesis KSI at Staples Center in Los Angeles. But that result hasn't dulled his passion for the sport.
"Boxing changed my life -- it took me out of the rut I was in after the Tokyo thing," said Paul, referring to posting footage on his YouTube channel of a man who appeared to have hanged himself and the ensuing backlash. "For the rest of my life, boxing is going to be a staple of my operation. I still box to this day. Hopefully we can get together and do it again."
Paul recently went to a fight card on Feb. 14 that featured lightweight sensation Ryan Garcia and former world titlist Jorge Linares at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, and regularly watches the sport on TV.
"I'm addicted to it," said Paul. "I have a lot of ways to make money -- but boxing is the most fun."
Earlier this year, Paul and former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown traded jabs on social media, and there was talk of them squaring off in the ring. Does Paul still have interest in that possibility?
"Nah, I realized Antonio Brown's just clinging on to my name to get some clout for a second while he tries to figure out his life," he answered. "When I realized he's actually not interested in fighting me, probably because he doesn't want to lose -- and I'm confident I'd beat the s--- out of him -- I kind of backed off."
Dmitry Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs)
The reigning WBA light heavyweight titlist doesn't have a fight lined up. but he has floated the idea of moving down to super middleweight to meet Canelo Alvarez, whose next fight was most likely going to take place at 168 pounds against WBO titlist Billy Joe Saunders.
"I see my future at 175, but I can move down for a big fight," Bivol said. "I don't have a problem to make 168 against Canelo. Why we are talking about Canelo is because [my manager] Vadim [Kornilov] told me Canelo has a problem with his opponents."
Bivol, speaking from Russia, said that this opportunity was about more than just a lucrative payday.
"First of all, I want to fight against him to make my own history, and then it's about money," he said. "Of course, we're here to earn money, but it's not my goal to get more money. I have enough money, I'm happy. But first of all, I have to use my skills and show my talent for boxing fans.
"It makes me more happy than money," he said.
Cecilia Braekhus (36-0, 9 KOs)
Braekhus was supposed to be facing Jessica McCaskill on April 17, but in the meantime she has been "sparring" on Twitter with junior middleweight champion Claressa Shields.
While Shields has been calling out Braekhus, the undisputed welterweight champion said she has another thing on her mind.
"Claressa is still young, still learning what things are working out," said Braekhus. "I'm in a foursome that is quite extraordinary, this mini-tournament: me, McCaskill, Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano. That's something that it would take a lot to drag me away from this, to be a part of this, all world champions, all potential Hall of Famers. It's quite an astonishing situation right now in women's boxing."
Hearn said he hopes to reschedule Braekhus' bout with McCaskill for June or July.
Joseph Parker (27-2, 21 KOs)
Parker, a former WBO heavyweight titlist, was able to fight this year before the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to boxing events for the foreseeable future. Parker stopped Shawndell Winters in the fifth round on Feb. 29 on the undercard of the Mikey Garcia-Jessie Vargas bout. Parker is considered a top-10 heavyweight, and he'll have his eye on a few key upcoming bouts in the weight class:
Dillian Whyte-Alexander Povetkin: "It's sort of a challenge of the left hooks -- they both have good left hooks. I see Dillian coming through. They're young, hungry. Povetkin has been around for a while."
Oleksandr Usyk-Dereck Chisora: "The first fight at heavyweight for Usyk was a good welcoming fight for him into the heavyweight division. But I see with the skills and a variety of punches, he's a very technical fighter. He'll beat Chisora."
Anthony Joshua-Kubrat Pulev: "Good fight. I think that fight, Anthony Joshua will come out on top. He's always improving, getting better as a fighter and a champion."
Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III: "I see Fury dominating. I think Fury won the first fight; the second fight he obviously destroyed him. I think the third fight will be the same result."