First, apologies to Fyodor Dostoevsky for “ripping off” his Notes from the Underground title, but since this week’s Rant will be on a few different topics, I felt that it was appropriate. Plus, from my cement bunker in a Central Mexico mountain valley, I couldn’t get more underground. Anyway, here we go:
— Russell Mora, Russell Mora, Russell Mora. The first real, world class fight of the month and it has to be ruined by an aggressively incompetent refereeing job.
The Showtime announce crew was really pushing the “bad ref” storyline and, often, that type of cheerleading paints a false narrative. In this case, though, it was right on the money, culminating with Jim Gray’s post-fight confrontation with Mora.
The post-fight craziness, with Agbeko trying to get at the referee and Gray getting hardcore with Mora, made for compelling TV, but the real stars of the evening should’ve been Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko, who gave an honest effort in a well-fought, interesting, and significant world title bout. The poor refereeing not only robbed Agbeko of his title, but it stole a good night of boxing from the fans and it sullied the marquee victory of Mares’ career.
As for Russell Mora– he needs to be disciplined. His performance was so cartoonishly bad that it ventured into the Marlon Wright, “so bad it has to be on purpose,” territory. Mora blew it and blew it to a degree that hasn’t been seen since Frank Santore Jr. botched the Sergio Martinez-Kermit Cintron fight (Giving Cintron a chance to rest and continue after being clearly knocked out by Martinez in the seventh round).
Ideally, Mora should be punished and Agbeko-Mares II should be immediately ordered. If I know my boxing, though, Mora will get a slap on the wrist, given a nice vacation, and then gradually brought back via undercard bouts until he gets another primo assignment. Mares, with bigger money fights on the horizon, will do his best to move on. Hopefully, I’m wrong.
— The sanctioning bodies take a lot of crap on this site and all across the internet– And rightfully so. They are a burden to the sport and a real, concrete scapegoat for many of boxing’s problems. However, this is nothing new and, in the past, the problem was just as bad (if not worse). Back in the day, before TV created a nationwide demand for some sort of boxing uniformity, there were plenty of state and regional commissions more than willing to create “world” titles. At any given time, there could’ve been world champions crowned by the California or New York commissions. There once was a California-Mexico world champion. Basically, any promoter who wanted a boost at the live gate (and, back then, that’s all they had), could just attach a world title designation to a bout.
If anything, the modern day sanctioning bodies have perfected the con, but their thievery isn’t any worse than the stuff done in the past.
The sport would be infinitely better off with some centralized, independent governing body. But that would require the promoters, managers, and fighters to stop participating in the current rotten system. In other words, don’t hold your breath.
— I recently got an angry message from a recognizable name in the fighter management biz. He took offense to a recent comment I made regarding the correlation between feature articles on sites and the promoters/managers who purchase ad space on those same sites.
His point: Mentioning his company’s name gives the impressions that they are actively trying to pay off sites. My Point: He’s doing his job to get his fighters publicity. The guilty ones are the site owners and journalists who fall over themselves to toss them softballs and set them up with as many features as possible. What we agreed on: It all comes down to whether the writers are willing to compromise their own sites.
There’s a real temptation for writers, promoters, managers, etc. to treat boxing like the whore it has become. After all, as I’ve been told at least dozen times already, everybody is on the take. Personally, I prefer to not be a part of the group pulling a train on the sport.
Got a problem, gripe, or desperate plea? Email Paul Magno at email@example.com. Paul is a certified iconoclast and a full member of the Burger King Kid’s Club.
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