HBO Boxing commentator, Jim Lampley, gave an impassioned speech at the end of his The Fight Game program following Saturday night’s boxing telecast. In the closing segment of a show dedicated to the controversial Pacquiao-Bradley decision from the previous Saturday, Lampley ran through the sport’s organizational problems and went so far as to encourage the frustrated fan base to be more discerning and, if necessary, to even boycott elements of the sport that are habitually not on the level. The term “Occupy Boxing” was even used, in reference to the Occupy Wall Street protest movement that made headlines in recent months.
However, standing in stark contrast to the last three minutes, the rest of the program seemed aimed at quieting the outrage and appeasing the heated tempers of the masses.
Prior to Lampley’s monologue and before Max Kellerman’s honest reassessment of Pacquiao-Bradley (which ended in Kellerman chalking the bad call up to a statistical fluke), the entire Fight Game show gave the appearance of being one big public relations spin job.
Softball questions were lobbed in interviews with Top Rank President, Todd DuBoef, Timothy Bradley’s manager, Cameron Duncan, and the “Dean” of Nevada judging, Duane Ford, one of the two judges to score the fight 115-113 in favor of Bradley.
One could’ve guessed the outcome of these interviews before they had even taken place: DuBoef feigned concern, Duncan supported the decision, and Ford managed to insult the fans’ intelligence for the third time over the course of a week (First, it was his comment that judging a fight was not like judging American Idol, then he made the ridiculous statement that Bradley gave Pacquiao a “boxing lesson,” and Saturday night he offered his insistence that angry fans can’t distinguish between amateur and professional scoring).
Maybe the last three minutes of the telecast were Lampley’s actual feelings and everything before that was at the urging of the network or, possibly, it was an honest attempt to give both sides of the story.
But one thing is for certain, 3-minute monologues will only go so far. HBO has telecast many of these sponsored farces and will continue to do so. If Lampley and the network were really concerned about the integrity of the sport, they’d flex their mighty muscles as the number one source of big fight revenue in the United States and do something about it.
In other words, don’t call on the fans to take action when you have refused to do anything.
The corruption at the top of the boxing food chain is beyond the fans’ ability to battle alone, especially when the vast majority of the boxing media, all of the sanctioning bodies, and many of those entrusted with maintaining the integrity of the sport are on promoter/manager payrolls.
The fans definitely have their role in any move toward boxing reform, but only those that control the money can really force the changes.
So, HBO, Showtime, ESPN…put your money where your mouth is.
Below, you’ll find the 3-minute Jim Lampley monologue that aired at the end of Saturday’s Fight Game program on HBO.
Also, be sure to read this week’s Monday Rant for more on boxing’s Old Boy Network and several other issues affecting the sport.