'Call Em Out Fridays': Politics In Boxing...A Not-So-Sweet Science
By Vivek Wallace -- In this weeks 'Call Em Out Fridays' segment we take a look at perhaps the one thing about the sport of boxing that we all wish to eliminate. No matter which side of the fence you sit, or who you like, this is one thing that we can all agree on. The issue at hand, politics. Politics in the sport of boxing comes in various forms. There are the forms that we see (questionable decisions), there are the forms which many don't see (under-handed negotiating), and then there are the forms which we fight fans see that we simply wish we hadn't, like the political and money based decisions to maintain a slew of governing bodies rather than one uni-lateral group to stand as the preeminent and unequivocal source of judgment.. People around the world continue to say that the sport of boxing is dead and that there are no great talents today like yesteryear. Oddly enough, today's era of the sport arguably boast equal or greater talent than any other era in history. The only problem is that polluted pipelines and current ranking systems allow 'big-name-little-talent' type fighters in each division to stop worthy contenders from working their way up the ranks - and those decisions are almost always money and/or politically driven.
Article posted on 11.07.2009
A perfect example of this was the recent WBC title match on the welterweight level where Colombian jr. welterweight Juan Urango was allowed to move up a division and face young stud Andre Berto without first proving himself worthy. There are times when the same rule that allows this type of fight to happen actually benefits the boxing public (Pacquiao coming up in weight to face Hatton), but aside from being a blockbuster affair with mega money implications, the logic or level of competition in this type of scenario typically leaves alot more to desire than inspire. The WBC has been long viewed as perhaps the best title organizations in the sport. We all practically marveled the famous 'green belt' as kids. But when you hone in on the operation itself, you realize that they're (WBC) probably the worst of all organizations when it comes to politically charged motivations to setup rank structure and future fights that do little to clear the air or decide a bona fide champion. Two of the most humorous offerings in the WBC guidelines for champions in defense is that each champion has to defend their title two times per year in either a mandatory or voluntary manner against: a.) an immediate lower or higher weight division with majority board approval - (Such a rule made it very easy for a media buzz builder like the spectacular Manny Pacquiao to enter a new division and defeat a mildly talented David Diaz rather than face a unified champion like Nate Campbell, who had Pacquiao defeated, would have made him the true undisputed king of lightweight) and b.) a former or retired world champion with majority board approval - (which makes it easy for fighters like ODH to come out of retirement and instantly get mega fights that put cheeks in seats but do little to narrow things down to a true undisputed champion). Each of the organizations have these kind of rules that are geared towards the money and politics of the sport, and what's so unfortunate is that there seems to be no shame in this political tactic at all across the board.
Many continue to speak of the difference between UFC and the sport of boxing, but technically, this is one of the only true flaws that separate the two. With the rich and well chronicaled history of boxing which celebrates greats like Ali, Tyson, Leonard, Marciano, and more, there can never be a replacement for boxing. The fact that UFC is a sport where the best routinely fight the best and the dispute factor is removed from the equation is perhaps a 'kicker', but sans that topic, the sport of boxing is alive and well. The welterweight division alone was recently so loaded that you could have taken rank numbers 1-10 and aside from Mayweather, Cotto, and Margarito, any of the remaining 7 could have been last man standing on any given night. Some of that luster has faded due to suspensions, defeat, and retirements, but the super-middlewieight division is currently taking over that 'deepest-in-the-sport' mantle, and the jr. welterweight group as well as the lower divisions have all seen an influx of talents that produce parity in great abundance. Even the once dreadful heavyweight division is showing signs of life in the wake of the recent Chambers victory and rising stars like Haye, Arreola, and others. Trust me, the sport of boxing isn't dying. We just have a ton of confused authorities who are hell bent on killing it. I use the term 'confused' freely because I'm not quite sure that there's a better way to describe men who aren't politicians, yet chase power and money and have the nerve to call themselves leaders. I have the utmost respect for the promoters of the sport and those others who bring the game to us, but for whatever it's worth, it's hardcore fight fans like me who fill your pockets. You want to see your revenue increase? Try updating those pathetic and outdated promotional company websites, or creating a magazine product that's enticing to the hardcore fight fan, yet won't require him to sacrifice lunch money to buy - at nearly $10 bucks a pop! While you're at it, try giving us a fight card without a lopsided questionable decision, and an occasional fight where the underdog wins based on effort, despite no one knowing his name. Trust me, there's a way for us all to win....and it all starts with the product in the ring, not a group of manufactured decisions around it. Think about it!
(Vivek Wallace can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7346, Facebook, and Myspace).
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