Welcome to the Monday Rant, the only boxing column that is consistently cruel to the douche bags, shills, and carpetbaggers of our sport.
Bear with me for a second, I have a point:
It’s Game One of the 1988 World Series, The LA Dodgers are down 4-3 in the 9th with the tying run on base as an injured Kirk Gibson limps up to pinch hit against Oakland A’s closer Dennis Eckersley. After fouling a couple off and taking three balls, the count is full. Then, in one of the most memorable moments in baseball history, Gibson homers against the ace closer.
Dodger Stadium erupts in joyous excitement as Gibson hobbles around the bases, pumping his fist like a conquering hero. Teammates pour out of the dugout and wait for Gibson to reach home plate.
As Gibson’s foot touches the plate, his fellow Dodgers rush him in celebration in a truly great moment in sports history.
But wait! Umpire, Bruce Froemming is signalling something!
Froemming is ruling that Gibson’s last foul ball prior to the home run was actually in play. Gibson is out! The home run didn’t count and the A’s take Game One of the World Series, 4-3.
Boxing does this to its fans over and over, mercilessly. We saw this three times over the weekend as three quality, memorable efforts were erased by less-than-quality efforts from judges.
After an upset loss a few months back, Mike Dallas Jr. turned in a redeeming effort on Friday Night Fights against Mauricio Herrera, until the scores were read and Dallas was stuck with a majority decision defeat, with one ridiculous score of 98-92 against him standing out.
Saturday afternoon, Irishman Matthew Macklin put in a Rocky-esque effort against Felix Sturm, only to find out that two judges saw Sturm winning solidly, 116-112.
Then, Saturday night, Lucas Matthysse came forward and apparently did enough to finally make a case for himself on the main stage of the jr. welterweight division– except two of the judges saw it differently.
Most of the time when fans complain about scoring, they are wrong. Most fans don’t really know how to score fights and/or don’t really pay that much attention. They get swept up in the moment, as all fans do from time to time.
None of the fights over the weekend could really be considered robberies, at least not in the Emmanuel Augustus-Courtney Burton sense of the word. But, still, it’s a real Andrew Golota three-punch combo to the crotch when the result doesn’t at all support the narrative. And, frankly, you can feel the boxing fan base shrinking each time it happens.
Old timers will say that bad decisions have always been a part of the game, some will even go so far as to say that these twisted results actually add intrigue to the sport. To an extent, I agree. Except that, nowadays, when the sport is more and more on the fringe and the fans seldom receive the consideration paying customers deserve, patience is running extremely thin.
At this point, you can almost guarantee that most close contests will be botched to some extent, whether through poor officiating or odd judging.
The sanctioning bodies and state commissions profess to have a training and discipline system in place to deal with these poor calls, but when all of these “mistakes” just “happen” to benefit the lead promoter’s fighter or hometown hero, the problem seems more about corruption than honest human error.
So, what can we do?
This conveniently leads to Step Two in the effort to take back our sport.
In the first installment, I talked about the need for comprehensive, fairly-compiled rankings as a way to cut back on corruption and also educate the fans. You can read Part One HERE.
Part Two is about something we can all do:
Taking Back our Sport, Part Two: Be an active fan.
Let’s face it, nobody is going to do the dirty work for us. We can’t depend on respect as consumers from the promoters and management-types. We can’t depend on the mainstream boxing media to help– they are funded by those who are actually causing the problems. And forget about getting any help from the sleazy sanctioning bodies or inept state commissions.
The sad fact of the matter is that boxing reform has to begin at the grass roots level. There’s no way around it– Fans have to be activists if they ever want things to change.
Forget the naysayers who will laugh at the idea of change. This kind of grass roots revolt does work. Case in point is Texas embarrassment, Gale Van Hoy, who turned in one of the most obscenely disgusting decisions by scoring what should’ve been a close win for Paulie Malignaggi as a 118-110 rout for Juan Diaz.
Malignaggi’s impassioned post-fight interview and the subsequent active, aggressive outrage of fight fans forced even the putrid Texas Commission to take action. All the attention forced the issue into the forefront of the sport’s collective unconscious, calling into question many previous decisions where Van Hoy shamelessly favored the hometown fighter. In the two years since that outrage, Van Hoy has only been allowed back into the judge’s seat five times (most recently, in the Stiverne-Austin heavyweight fight Saturday night), only two of those in Texas and none featuring Texas fighters.
When the public roars en masse, things do get done. Mostly, problems get shifted around until the heat dies down, but that has a lot to do with the short attention span of many fans and media members. Whatever the case, when we flex our muscles, the scoundrels feel it.
Being an active fan can mean many things.
It could mean being an informed consumer who aggressively expresses his/her discontent through organized protest and/or boycott of some sort.
It could mean having the drive to adopt a hands-on approach to the idea of reform by entering the system and becoming an official or manager.
Hell, it could even mean opening up an acerbic, stubbornly honest website of your own or joining up with an existing one in order to hold the douche bags accountable for their pillaging of the sport.
We are truly on our own in this endeavor. The authorities, the management, and even the media itself share responsibility for the sad state of affairs we are in. It’s going to be up to us to make the changes needed in order to bring the sport out of the dark shadows of blatant graft and jobbery.
If we don’t act, we are giving our consent to continue business as usual in a sport seemingly dead set on driving itself into the ground.
You can email Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/boxing BTBC or check him out as he becomes the first member of the boxing media to not try and network his exposure into “bigger and better” gigs. Paul is a full member of the Burger King Kid’s Club.
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