I was ready to leave boxing as a writer. I had turned in my pained, heartfelt resignation, said my goodbyes and everything. But Sunday morning, in the wake of the Loma/Haney result, I reached a different conclusion. I am going to stay and fight.
What am I fighting for? Not to sound too grandiose, but the very soul of boxing.
And look, my ego is not so big that I believe that I can win this battle as a writer with strong journalistic ethics on my own. In fact, due to some personal concerns, I’ll still be taking a step back for a time, but on the other side of that break, I do intend to return in full force.
Boxing Is A Joke, And Not A Good One, Way Too Often
But here is the hard truth. I only, however briefly, decided to leave the sport after it had already left me. Boxing has always been corrupt and unseemly, but it has become a full-on joke.
I don’t want to become a full-on miserablist when it comes to writing about the sport. I want to find good things to say about the world of boxing, but I’ll be damned if the current state of things doesn’t make it hard. And here’s the thing about being a boxing writer: This is a sport you truly have to immerse yourself in to be able to write about it effectively. To put it more bluntly, you can’t be a “casual” and be a good writer on the sport.
For far too long, I’ve been fighting to care about a sport that doesn’t care about itself. There are largely three kinds of fights right now: fake fights (hello, Jake Paul), bad fights (waves at everything), and next to no fights between the best of the best–weight class by weight class.
Throw in the bad judging (more on that later), the bad reffing (more later on that too), and all the rest that’s plagued the sport for years, and I’ve been struggling to find enough positives to make up for those stated negatives.
Now I know some out there might think Tank vs Garcia or Loma vs. Haney are great fights, but I would disagree. I think there’s a difference between great fights and name fights. Both of those fights are name fights. You know the people entering the ring through their relentless promotion and (Loma aside) by their gaudy records achieved against lesser lights.
The Best Not Fighting the Best Often Enough
Take the Tank/Garcia fight. Until Tank knocked Garcia out with a body shot, neither of those two fighters had a single signature win on their resumes. Hell, I'm not so sure that Tank does now even after beating Garcia.
All these young bucks are so protected on the way up. And you know what? I get it. Promoters are protecting their investments, and fighters are trying to hang onto their zero in their loss column. But it wasn’t always this way.
Promoters used to chase great matchups not only because they believed in the ability of the boxer they were supporting, but they also believed in their ability to sign more great talent if their charge fell short. And make no mistake, there is a lot of great talent in boxing right now, it’s just that it’s largely avoiding each other.
There is absolutely no good reason that Fury hasn’t lined up Usyk and Crawford hasn’t set a date with Spence. This sport is turning into an articles-only version of Playboy. Boxing is mocking those of us who watch it.
The Masses Mired In Inertia
But what I find most depressing is how easily the boxing audience accepts it. Think about it, can you ever imagine a time in boxing when Jake Paul would be the face of the sport?
Exhibition fights between semi-pros are one of the biggest attractions in boxing. And that’s a problem for the sport.
Assuming these exhibitions aren’t scripted (and “assuming” is carrying a lot of weight in this sentence), that’s the only thing separating these phony fights from the WWE.
And I know, I know, I sound like the old man yelling about kids on his lawn. Maybe that’s true. Maybe my longing for the days when fighters like Ali, Frazier, and Foreman would take on all comers is quaint. But it wasn’t all that long ago that fighters still did that. Tyson, Lewis, Holyfield, Hagler, Leonard, and on and on. They were all brave enough to test themselves and believe they would come through. For 30-40 years that’s what boxing was like.
Now, I don’t want to suggest that the sport of boxing has ever been clean or pretty. Promoters have often been (and continue to be) dastardly, fighters are lucky to leave the sport with half their senses intact, and refereeing and judging has been historically abysmal.
But there were always compensations in abundance because great fighters wanted to fight each other. The level of ducking has never been as bad as it is now. Back in the day, if you ducked an opponent long enough, you were shamed into fighting them.
There is no shame now, and that’s what’s shameful.
To make matters even worse, the BWAA is a complete embarrassment.
Taking Aim At Boxing Writers Association of America
Their website looks like something a semi-talented 13-year-old created in 1998. And if you go through their currently listed members, they are full of “writers” who barely write at all on the sport, and some of whom I couldn’t find a single byline within the last two years.
This is an organization that is supposed to be supportive of those who scribe on the sport. But, despite writing on boxing for nearly a decade, being far more prolific than the average BWAA writer, and according to my editors who supported me, “good enough,” I got rejected.
Which is fine, whatever. The criteria for membership invitations to any club can be mysterious. But considering how low their standard is for those they’ve let in, well, I find it puzzling.
They even blocked me when I tweeted that their website is shitty. And again, it is. Just fucking look at it. They have essentially become the equivalent of a blue check on Twitter.
Whatever it was once worth has been so devalued that it’s almost a badge of honor to not be a member.
DAZN Has Not Performed To Expectations
Then you have DAZN, a platform that was supposed to revolutionize access to the sport.
Aside from their streaming quality being wonky, the coverage is often bordering on the unprofessional. The ringside crew is weak, and, in what I can only describe as stupefying, they often lack interpreters in the corners of boxers who don’t speak English, yet, somehow, they still take you into those corners as if they think you can pick up another language on the fly.
For all their amateurish coverage, they charge you $99 a year for the right to view their lesser fights, and the opportunity to pay a bit less than their normal fee for their PPV fights.
All of that was bad enough, but come next year, they are raising their price to $224 a year, a 226% price increase. No fucking sale. Then, there was this snafu.
Still, I could look past the BWAA and DAZN were there regular reasons to tune in.
Boxing Often Seems Dead
It would be too broad a statement to say that boxing is dead, but it’s either on life support, or it’s morphing into something I no longer recognize. Either way, it’s no better than the living dead to me at the moment. It may be upright and mobile, but you can see the flesh falling off the limbs. “A corpse is just a corpse,” a friend of mine recently told me, and if you spend too much time around a corpse, it begins to rot and stink. Boxing is rotting and stinking.
Let’s take what happened Saturday night in the Loma/Haney fight. While I think the guy who outworked, outlanded, and outhurt his opponent should have won (crazy me), the judges saw the admittedly close fight differently, as did some of my fellow boxing writers.
And look, reasonable minds can disagree on a tightly contested contest. But here’s the thing that gives me the red ass: of the three judges on the panel last night, one of them was Dave Moretti.
A man who just less than a month ago scored a round in the Tank/Garcia fight as 10-10 even despite the fact that Tank had deposited Garcia on his backside in said round. Moretti should never have been allowed to judge a bum fight after such a dubious card, but there he was last night, once again, making a mockery of the sport by scoring Loma’s clearly dominant 10th round for Haney.
As well, we are just one week removed from the Tony Weeks premature stoppage in favor of Rolly Romero over Ismael Barroso. A fight that the judges had Barroso up on all three of their cards, and while Romero was having a good moment in the fight, by no means was Barroso in danger of going down or unable to defend himself.
And yet, I suspect in the near future, I will see Tony Weeks in the ring refereeing a fight of significance.
We Are Too Often A Joke, But It's Not Funny
Weeks and Moretti have both proven themselves to be unworthy and unqualified to be anywhere near a ring that isn’t located on one of their fingers. It’s a joke, and not a good one.
There’s a thing called credibility. It should matter. And while I will be taking some kind of break from writing for the moment, I have decided that I will return because boxing needs more writers like my brethren at NY Fights. They consider me one of them, so, not just by my own beliefs do I think I lend this sport a measure of credibility.
It may be a losing battle, but it’s one we, and I, will continue to fight. Even if a personal sabbatical/cleanse is in order.
See you on the other side.