Boxing Overlords Too Absurd and Greedy to Arrange Fix in Pacquiao-Bradley Bout
There are three distinct moments of pure fun, intrigue and entertainment in professional boxing.
1. When the boxers first meet at the center of the ring. Granted, it’s not nearly as brooding as it once was, but this is the moment where the fighters get to first pull their macho on. Power drilling screw holes into the opposing set of eyes, maybe even a slight sneer. The upturning of a lip corner. The possibility one fighter had just seconds before coming out of the locker room wolfed down a sumptuous snack of raw onion and aged garlic. The attendant hangers-on all around them ranting and raving in languages no linguist could possibly translate.
2. Hearing and feeling that reaction from the crowd when a flash punch nails the mark, and you can feel the air rushing out of the room in what, in that instant, is the wake-up call everyone has been waiting for. Suddenly, everyone can sense and then see that much anticipated opening, the one that can end the fight with one solid shot or a thunder strike of punches. Of course, if this is prior to the end of the fight and the bell manages to save the boxer who hits the canvas, we are guaranteed at least one more tour around the ring from the card girl. Rather, to be politically correct, the “Ring Card Professional”.
3. Watching and listening in the seconds and weeks after a controversial decision as everyone with a monetary stake in the outcome pillories judges who dished out a decision not even on the same continent as reality. And of course, these are the people who always seem to have a verbal shovel handy telling us boxing isn’t fixed, it has managed to weed out all the “bad eggs” in the last several years, and is on the upswing because no matter how cooked the results and match-ups seem, there will always be a worldwide sucker, I mean fan, base for boxing.
I’ll admit to being a fan of boxing going back to the afternoon I watched, on a massive black & white TV because that was the leftover set we had installed in the basement rec room, Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton bust each other up. I’ve called the blow-by-blow for plenty of professional and amateur bouts and have the blood stained tuxedo lapel to prove it. Some of my closest friends work in and around the sweet science, and I was very moved earlier this year when we lost Bert Sugar. “Uncle Bert” appeared every week on a syndicated radio program I hosted what seems like eons ago, and knocking down a few drinks with him in Manhattan ranks as one of the all-time great moments in my broadcasting career.
And no, I never saw him without that hat.
But there is no way I can stand up and defend the sport of boxing this time around. The outcome of the Manny Pacquaio-Timothy Bradley WBO Welterweight Title bout ranks among the historic Top 10 comedies, surpassed only by “The Main Event”, if only for the reason we were told to believe Ryan O’Neal could be a boxer and Barbra Streisand had any comedic chops left after “Funny Girl”.
Bradley was awarded a decision that could be the worst performance by a judge, or judges, since Lance Ito was given the magic wand to wield in the OJ Simpson murder case. Not only were these geniuses not watching the same fight as everyone else was, rumor has it they have secretly admitted being under some form of hypnotic spell, believing Ivan Drago was in the ring and Brigette Nielsen was walking the apron taking drink orders.
A case can be made to insure judges Duane Ford and CJ Ross, who each had the fight scored 115-113 for Bradley, are never assigned anything to officiate above the level of the Arkansas Olympic Hog Slop Finals. Though there is that chance the pigs themselves would have their union file a fast lawsuit to have someone legitimate deciding their fate.
Pacquiao won the fight. Period. End of tale of the tape. Even the backup judges recruited from the “Jose Feliciano School of Truck Driving and Meteorology” had the champion winning on every scorecard.
And in the milliseconds since the split decision was announced, we have been bombarded with cries from the boxing billionaires and bellicose blunderers about how it had to be fixed. Rigged. Cooked. A set-up. Pre-determined. Geosynchronous.
Apologies for going overboard using a five-syllable word, meaning at least half of those whining will fall behind in reading this article needing to sound out the word.
The outcome of the bout wasn’t fixed for one simple reason.
Those running the sport of boxing these days aren’t smart enough to plan and carry out anything more intricate than staging the pre-fight weigh-in photos. They hired these officials. They sanctioned them. They put the pencils, or in this case, crayons in their nubby little hands to make these decisions.
Boxing, as much as I love the sport and will undoubtedly have my press credentials rejected for every bout until the year Elvis Presley’s ghost sings the National Anthem, simply has some of the most inanely stupid bipeds ever in charge of it’s fortunes.
I won’t bore you with a list of those in charge of the various alphabet organizations. Suffice to say there isn’t a straight shooter among them who really cares about the sport or anyone connected with it that doesn’t put cash in their wide-brimmed hats. They make the rules up as they go along, often using flash cards with pictures and no words on them to decide which ones will be implemented on a weekly whim.
They’ll tell you the sport is back on solid footing after years of graft and corruption. The boxers are better and are being protected by better medical care the ever before. The rankings have been fixed to insure the best fighters rise in the ranks and those who are truly deserving will get their fair shot at the title.
They will also tell you MMA is just a passing fad, people no longer care if there’s no unified champion because it makes for greater interest among a global and societal diverse fan base, the gloves have been redesigned to insure fighters suffer fewer concussions, judges are above reproach and are the most educated officials in any sport, and all those punches between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed were incredibly realistic.
There is no sport more riddled with graft, secret payoffs, back room deals, frauds, cheats, lowlife skulkers and snake oil salesman that boxing. Those who wield power in this sport make officials at FIFA look like rank amateurs. No one would be shocked to hear that soccer’s governing body attends yearly seminars with the heads of the boxing alphabet organizations to learn how they can extract more money from those suckers in the seats with the least effort.
Nothing would make me happier to see boxing rise once again to the level of a “must-see” sport. When a title fight was something so special you counted down the hours until the first bell. You knew who the pugilists were and could actually pronounce their names. You were absolutely certain both men in that ring deserved to be there. There was no doubt neither boxer was able to dodge the other because the match-up made sense and was deserved. The fighters earned their way there. No tomato cans. No pumped up phonies.
No chance. Never happen. Boxing won’t die, but it will never recover until the thieves holding the purse strings are either thrown out or die off.
But that won’t really make a difference. There will just be another generation of wide-smile carpetbaggers just waiting to carve out the wallets of worldwide suckers.
The Pacquiao-Bradley fight wasn’t fixed. Couldn’t be.
Because thanks to the oily snakes running the sport, boxing itself is broken beyond all repair.
Veteran sportscaster Ed Berliner is also Senior Columnist for the web site "Sports Media Masters" (http://sportsmediamasters.com), and won't part with his autographed Muhammad Ali books at any price.
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