Another week begins and what better way to kick it off than with a nice, warm rant from my fortified cement bunker in the hills of Central Mexico…
Rant #1: Top Rank’s Latin Fury card Saturday was actually a pretty entertaining card– Too bad only a small handful of boxing fans got to see it. At 50 bucks a pop and 3 weeks before Christmas, this was a tough sell even to the most hardcore of fight fan.
The easy excuse for shoving shows like this on PPV is that they are too small for HBO/Showtime yet too costly for free TV. But, the sport needs to start sharing the good match-ups with the general public in order to build up a dwindling fan base.
All of us fight fans, over 30 years of age, became fans by watching the free boxing shows on national TV…but that was when good fights actually were broadcast on free TV. Boxing isn’t gaining even one new fan by airing Chris Arreola vs. some club fighter on ESPN2 or two Footlocker employees going four rounds on Telemundo.
Humberto Soto-Urbano Antillon and Donaire-Sidorenko would make new fans and, while there may have to be a re-adjustment of pay scales in order to make this work financially, the long-term benefits will outweigh the short-term difficulties.
But how can you chastise a 79-year old man for not looking 5-15 years down the road? Arum could be a selfless man and sacrifice some of his “walking around” money in the present for the benefit of the sport. However, that’s not realistic.
Arum could, though, bust his ass to get these fights an outlet and an audience on free TV…that’s definitely within his skill set as a Hall of Fame promoter.
The lazy way out is pay per view…and it’s killing boxing’s fan base.
Rant #2: Just a word about the concept of rankings in boxing.
Imagine if the Chicago Bears found themselves in second place based on something other than on-field play? Imagine if the Miami Heat started the NBA season 11.5 games ahead of the pack based purely on the signing of Lebron James?
These would cause uproars in their respective sports, yet boxing fans routinely accept similar logic when it comes to their rankings.
The sanctioning body rankings are obviously a bad, tragic joke, but even the Ring Magazine rankings, touted by some as the most respectable rankings the sport has, are often guilty of altering reality in order to tell their story.
Case in point is Wladimir Sidorenko (or Volodymyr Sydorenko) who was ripped to pieces by Nonito Donaire this past Saturday. Sidorenko, who hadn’t had a fight at bantamweight since losing twice to Anselmo Moreno twice in May of 2009 and May of 2008, somehow found himself entering the Ring Magazine 118 lb. rankings prior to the Donaire bout. He had a fight at Super Flyweight in August, but it appears that Sidorenko merely signing to a Donaire fight was enough to get him a #10 placement in the division by ring Magazine’s “panel of experts.”
You could also point to Saul Alvarez’s #10 raking in the 154 lb. class, Adrian Diaconu’s puzzling 186 weeks in the light heavyweight top 10, and many, many more curious editorial decisions.
Listen, of all the sports on God’s green Earth, the one that desperately needs a legit rankings system the most is boxing. Ring Magazine may be better than the sanctioning bodies, but it’s little more than a popularity contest and far from being a real source of finding out who the most deserving fighters are in each division.
Rant #3: On a rare positive note, this upcoming week will be the sixth straight week of significant fights– and that’s the first step in re-building the sport. There’s enough talent around to provide 52 significant weeks of quality bouts.
The next steps involve strengthening the media, establishing real rankings, and cutting down on some of the crazy boxing politics….good luck with that.
In the meantime, I’ll settle for quality fights.