Boxing Blows It on the Big Stage with Cunningham Robbery
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
First the good news.
Boxing was on network television for the second time in as many weeks.
Now the bad news.
Tomasz Adamek's highly controversial split-decision win over Steve Cunningham was so bad it will only feed into the negative perceptions of boxing that exist in the minds of mainstream sports fans.
Among those perceptions, in no particular order, are the claims that boxing is either rigged, corrupt or altogether incompetent.
Worse yet are those who believe that the truth encompasses some part of all three. And decisions like Saturday night's will do nothing to dispel those feelings and in fact make them grow stronger even amongst the sport's most ardent defenders.
Putting it simply: Tomasz Adamek did not win Saturday night. Steve Cunningham was faster, outboxed him in the majority of rounds and deserved to win the fight.
Key words: deserved to.
He didn't win, and while boxing fans are used to these types of shenanigans, let's not compare this to Pacquiao vs. Bradley or Rios vs. Abril, which were truly such horrible decisions that they hurt with attracting new fans.
If you're a first-time viewer or even a casual fan who likes boxing but doesn't commit to it in the way you would say the NFL, you like to see entertaining fights when you do tune in.
And Saturday night's bout was certainly that. Adamek and Cunningham are two guys who will always put on a good scrap when matched well.
But you also like to see the right guy's hand raised when it's all said and done.
Especially on a stage like network television when boxing is trying to build something better and draw in new people.
Unfortunately for boxing, it always seems that the bigger the stage, the more likely it is to trip over itself. And that being the case—mission accomplished.
Is this the worst decision in boxing history? It's not even close to the worst decision of the year.
But when boxing's chances to make an impression are limited, these types of mistakes must be avoided.
Steve Cunningham won Saturday night. And his loss is a loss not just for him but for both the sport and all those who care about it.
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