FOX Sports on-air personality Colin Cowherd, host of “The Herd”, fired big shots at boxing following the UFC 205 rematch between its superstar Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz.
I have a huge problem with not only how Cowherd chose to express himself– but when.
McGregor vs. Diaz II was a spectacular fight. In fact, its one of the best fights I've ever seen in combat sports history. Great. That was about the only thing I was able to agree with while listening to a nauseating soliloquy that probably upset stomachs of boxing fans everywhere.
This is what Coward – errr “Cowherd”, a former Morton Downey Jr. type on ESPN, had to say following McGregor/Diaz II:
“I'm not a purist. I don't think like a purist so its hard for me to relate to purists. There are certain people who are purists: Newspaper Guy. Baseball Guy. Boxing Guy. Over the weekend Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor fought. It was the best fight in UFC's history. It was basically, metaphorically a nail in the coffin for boxing. And all these Boxing fans… Yesterday they were lined up on my phone, on my Twitter, “You don't get it! You don't get it!”
He wasn't done.
“Do I talk about Boxing? No. I'm one of the leading sports opinion guys in the country. Do [Mike & Mike] ever talk about Boxing? No. Both of us will cover (goes into dramatic impact here) a weigh-in for UFC. I'm not making stuff up. Newspapers and boxing can still make money, but they're dead industries walking. UFC is now the water cooler sport in America, when it comes to mano y mano fighting. It has taken over boxing.”
Though Charlamagne Tha God with “The Breakfast Club” wasn't able to be reached to nominate Cowherd for “Donkey of The Day”, Cowherd may be in the running for jackass of the year for those ill-advised remarks, considering how well boxing is actually doing. He's been picking a fight with boxing since around March and enough is enough.
No way he's going to equate the “sweet science” to some newspaper full of junk mail on a lawn next to pile of sh*t that no one will read or touch. Unt-uh.
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First, I have to stress that Colin Cowherd is an extremely talented on-air personality with a rare cinematic delivery he offers with flair. Words flow from his mouth like soldiers to form an army; and if you're not careful, he'll get you spun like laundry.
As great as McGregor vs. Diaz II was, it paled in comparison to Spence vs. Bundu and Heather Hardy vs. Shelito Vincent, collectively, in terms of its significance for the sport. Spence is a rising star– but hardly the household name McGregor is, and he did 6 million views on a Sunday afternoon for NBC.
Hardy's thriller on syndicate station NBCSN was also a hit, while serving as a huge boost for female boxers. It happened during the same weekend Olympic gold was claimed for the USA by Claressa Shields in Rio. Cowherd irresponsibly mentioned none of this, in conversation that had to come up at his water cooler– if in fact, its water that's coming out of it.
The editorial staff at Real Combat Media reminded me of the fact that FOX Sports has a UFC deal that runs through the end of 2018. They were also able to confirm that UFC boss Dana White does the majority of his interviews on FOX Sports, because of the UFC deal with them.
Cowherd's ratings, of course, go through the roof whenever White appears on the program, suggesting its in his best interest to arm-bar boxing through his show. Why would UFC (or White) want boxing competing with a growing combat sports audience after just completing a sale of the company in excess of 4 billion?
Speaking of “White”, another major mistake Cowherd made in proclaiming boxing to be dead, was forgetting that its predominately occupied by minorities, while UFC/MMA is at least perceived as something for white people. It is not, but perception doesn't understand rules.
He said he's not making things up, and neither am I.
If his words were to be taken at face value, then that would mean 1000's of kids in amateur programs around the world (along with their hard working coaches) should just dash their hopes and dreams right now.
Tell former IBF President and current V.P. of the newly formed LBF, Marian Muhammad, that “boxing is dead”. It is poised to serve as a major player in Europe to rival the WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF sanctioned events around the world. All of which means, there will be more world-class fighters emerging on the scene with more TV slots opening up across the globe.
A considerable portion of Mexican, Puerto Rican and Cuban society revolves around boxing, and the sport is vitally important to those economies, just naming a few. MMA cannot claim that distinction at all in any country. To summon former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, who was the last to appear on network TV in 1985 against the late Carl “The Truth” Williams, MMA can't carry boxing's jockstrap until it at least becomes an Olympic sport.
Evidence that Cowherd will get on-air and not know what the hell he's talking occurred back in March, when he told us to “get your hotels and book your plane tickets for Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor” in September. He was totally wrong about that, just like he is now.
Boxing must have showed incredible signs of life for UFC/MMA to push for that fight, and there's no way Mayweather is the B-side to McGregor in any event. If Cowherd was correct in his failed guarantee of the fight happening, “Money” would've turned McGregor into bloody pennies while slipping back into retirement.
To borrow from Cowherd, it would've been “a nail in the coffin” for UFC, just like a near loss to Diaz [could've] been. Without knowing whether Ronda Rousey can be reassembled and the ongoing soap opera with Jon Jones, what would've happened to the UFC and MMA if their fans saw Floyd open up and slice him like the tomato can he would be against him?
Wanting the demise of something is entirely different from needing it; and Cowherd comes across as if he both wants and needs boxing to die. You don't mention something as passionately as he did unless it affects your bottom line.
Boxing is very much alive.
In fact, I caught a screening of the new boxing film “Hands of Stone,” along with a new generation of fans who will learn about Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran. Its quite possible that Dana White will be munching on a bag of genetically modified popcorn as well in a theater near you.
I'm sure Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman and the guys from “Mike & Mike” at ESPN will all take in the film, only to talk about boxing on-air after they do so. Perhaps Colin should buy a ticket: If you can't beat em- join em.
–John Gatling (aka Taz) is a southpaw from Plainfield, NJ and the boxing opinionator lives in the Boston area. He was inspired by hometown heroes Harold “The Shadow” Knight and Glenwood “The Real Beast” Brown to get deeper into the fight game. Follow John on Twitter (@johngatling_) and Facebook (facebook.com/taznj)