Yesterday, boxing took another willing step into the grave.
However, live on HBO, Juan Diaz fought Paulie Mallignaggi in what was supposed to be a tune up match for Diaz in his hometown, on his road to bigger things.
What happened instead was a great boxing exhibition by Paulie Malignaggi.
From the opening bell to the last bell, Paulie Malignaggi did what every trainer in the world wants from its fighters: jab jab jab, head movement, ring movement.
In an impressive display, a comeback story appeared to be in the works. I had the bout 118-110 Malinaggi.
What happened instead was fraud.
Following the performance the crowd booed audibly, Diaz's mom wept for her babies defeat, and Paulie held his hands up like the winner he rightfully was. Everybody who watched that fight knew who won it.
However, the judges thought otherwise, awarding a unanimous decision in favor of the visibly-defeated Juan Diaz.
You can say Paulie knew what he was facing. Love him or hate him, in his pre-fight interview, the brash and oftentimes arrogant New Yorker proclaimed the last minute change from previously agreed neutral judging to three native judges was against contract, and that quote: "The deck is stacked against me."
He wasn't lying.
Malignaggi, who has had trouble getting down to 140 lbs. for fights in the past, was asked to make 138 1/2 pounds, which he did. He was asked to fight in a small ring. He did. He was asked to fight in front of a Houston crowd that in the past has had issues. He did that too.
All perfectly acceptable gamesmanship from a fighter with bargaining position. However, tilting the balance of the judges was not.
That's what you call fight fixing.
Paulie fought anyway, because as he rightfully thought, this was a big opportunity.
Juan Diaz had been defeated in two of his last three fights, and didn't have any power or quickness to overwhelm him like Ricky Hatton, or Miguel Cotto. This was a chance to overcome odds and maybe earn himself a payday in the future.
When the decision came, however, Juan Diaz proclaimed "Can I fight with a cut now!"
Beaming from ear to ear, Oscar de la Hoya stood by clapping, his management stood by him as well, all accomplices to a crime perpetrated live in front of an HBO crowd.
The HBO team apologized for the judges, proclaiming it a "close fight" that "could have been scored either way". This was obviously a company trying to maintain a relationship.
Which was equally disgusting.
If boxing dies, it won't be because of MMA, it will be the same reason why any previously-successful business fails.
Greed. Coruption. A community accepting of it.
In sports you don't get to script the outcomes...
*Ken Foss writes about anything that grabs his attention, he doesn't in anyway hate boxing or MMA, and his opinion should be viewed as such. This isn't trying to incite a flame war, it's about removing obvious corruption in sport. PERIOD!
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