Several hours ago I stumbled upon an essay written by a prominent USA based boxing writer employed by a media giant known by it’s world famous initialism. I was surprised by the feelings this piece stimulated in me. The journalist responsible is entitled to write what he wishes and I don’t know if he was under any kind of editorial pressure to write an article of this nature but it seemed off to me that someone who earns a living from covering boxing would write so negatively about the entire year of 2016 in our sport.
The article did make some valid points and as we all know there are issues within boxing which need to be examined; however I feel this would be better done in a series of smaller articles which could then offer alternatives or solutions to some of the areas which we would all like to see improved.
I decided to respond to the essay, not as an attack on the writer but hopefully to provide some balance and perhaps offer a small reminder that 2016 has had some positives that we can feel encouraged by looking forward. Below is my letter to a professional journalist who went all “grumpy old man” on boxing yesterday.
As I was reading twitter last night I noticed your most recent article had been re-tweeted onto my timeline. As I am prone to do in cases like this, especially if it is boxing related, I clicked on the link and read it. I must confess I am not a regular reader of your work, are you normally this negative about the sport you cover for a living? I was taken aback by your piece and it has resulted in this counter. While I am aware of your standing within the boxing media and understand you have a responsibility to report whatever you deem newsworthy, I feel it is important to look at some of your remarks and offer a different point of view.
Now to begin I will say that you made some valid points in your piece, especially about PBC fighters and their inactivity and the terrible mismatches that we occasionally get served up. I also agree and share your frustration about the difficulty Gennady Golovkin has getting fighters to face him. Lack of TV airtime on the major US broadcasters is also a problem if these outlets are your main way of following the sport. I think though that these issues should have been tackled separately instead of being all bundled together under the one headline to support an article which effectively tarnishes this entire year in boxing.
Read on as I begin my dissection. OK, Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin taking so much time to get made is irritating but it is one fight. Yes it is a major one and because of this it will happen. Meanwhile the rest of the boxing world moves on, giving us plenty to watch and comment on. Good fights getting cancelled due to injuries – always going to be a factor in a contact sport I’m afraid, all we can do is hope fighters get back to fitness quickly and the matches get re-scheduled.
As I said I did agree with some of your comments. Not too sure what can be done about the problem of fighter inactivity. As you rightly point out fighting once then disappearing for 10 months is no way to create a fan base or generate enough media interest. Can we hope that as the coffers seem to be running dry that these boxers will need to fight more frequently and against better standard of opponents to continue earning the monies they have become accustomed to?
Failure from HBO and Showtime to broadcast enough content — brother, boxing is an international sport. Fights occur around the globe every week and boxing fans will read about them and find a way to watch where possible. I know you are American and work for an American platform/website but if you haven’t already, dig in and write about boxing and boxers from all over the globe. Your readers will thank you for it in the long run. I know HBO and Showtime are important players on the boxing scene in North America and their broadcasting is top notch but they are not the beginning and end of boxing coverage.
Another issue I had was to do with the timing of your article. I get that you’re a bit pissed off with the sport at the moment but it’s mid-October. There are still some good looking fights to come before 2016 closes out and hopefully they will offer something which may help you soften your stance on this year a bit. It seems more like the business and politics side of things that are getting under your skin. You will know better than me that boxing is stuck with the current system until it has one governing body which can oversee all aspects of the running of the sport. We both know that ain’t happening.
Enough of the reflection, time to state some positives we can take from this year. Maybe reading this section will improve your mood.
Loads of great fights have taken place this year. You mentioned Vargas vs. Salido already and I will add Gonzalez vs. Cuadras, Frampton vs. Santa Cruz, Thurman vs. Porter, Crolla vs. Linares and Yamanaka vs. Moreno to name but five more top tier fights that certainly delivered. Also there have been a number of interesting fights that did get made, namely fights which placed unbeaten boxers against one another. A couple are in my list above and we also got Crawford vs. Postol, Golovkin vs. Brook and Usyk vs. Glowacki with Kovalev vs. Ward still to come. Not a bad list of fights I’m sure you’ll agree.
Extra enjoyment has also been provided by some under the radar fights. Check YouTube for Jamie Conlan vs. Anthony Nelson – an undercard bout from this side of the pond which was thrill a minute stuff. Recently Ricky Burns vs. Kiryl Relikh provided entertainment and no shortage of talking points as the action was interpreted every possible way depending on who you spoke to.
Sensational performances in the ring should always be applauded and this year we have seen some amazing boxing from Errol Spence, Vasyl Lomachenko, Oscar Valdez, Oleksandr Usyk and from the Olympics your countryman who will soon turn professional Shakur Stevenson. The return of Mikey Garcia is also good news for the sport. All of these named boxers are on the must watch list moving forward.
Perhaps the most significant moment in boxing this year has been left for my final point. I am referring to the fight that took place in Brooklyn in August between Heather Hardy and Shelly Vincent. It was refreshing to hear that this fight was televised in the USA (it was also broadcast live where I am in the UK) as the female fighters work just as hard as their male counterparts and deserve similar exposure. On the night Hardy and Vincent delivered an astonishingly good fight which anyone who witnessed it would be happy to tell you. Add to this the second Olympic gold medal for Claressa Shields who I believe is going to turn professional, providing an additional boost to ladies prize-fighting in America. Hopefully this will help female boxing find more slots on high profile cards next year and beyond.
Now I hope you take this letter in the spirit it was intended. Yes there are areas that could be better (the same is probably true for most sports) but there have been a number of positives this year in boxing with surely a few more still to come. You began your piece by asking to be talked down from the boxing ledge so to speak – I am not normally one to offer advice but I will try here; detach yourself from the business and politics side of our sport for a while, go out to an amateur card in your local area, sit in the cheap seats and have a few beers and just appreciate boxing for what it is when you get down to the very core of it – a fuckin’ great sport!
Yours In Boxing,