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The State [September 2019]: In Times of Peace…

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You should prepare for War. 

Peace is, conceptually, a state of societal friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility and violence. In the more broader social sense, this can be defined as a lack of conflict, with freedom from the fear of violence between individuals or diverse groups. If that’s true, then if ever there’s world peace, right away, boxing becomes “an anthology sport.”

The cries to ban boxing, again, echoed in silence over breakfast during Fight Week for Vasiliy Lomachenko Vs Luke Campbell, as I read an article from The Guardian entitled, “Vasiliy Lomachenko: ‘Max was a very good person. But it’s the life we all live as fighters.’ After the writer extolled the virtues of Loma, he went on a deep peace seeking mission in memorial of the fallen rising star that was Maxim Dadashev. It was understandable, but was asking Vasiliy to go to a place of peaceful contemplation during a fight week of war? He gets supplied with the cake, despite a paid demand to see him eat it too. Paradox.

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I’ll never forget the media presser for Andre Ward Vs Sergey Kovalev II in NYC at the Le Parker Meridian in April 2017. It was the sporting equivalent of Intellectual War between Vladimir Putin Vs Barack Obama in a small room on top of an NYC skyscraper in front of both respective media. It was an extremely intense atmosphere, for such was the divide between the respective promotions. It was such an intense climate of war, intensified from my perspective by a conversation I just happened to broach without caution — and with non-interpretational assumption. It was so odd. “Her” remarks were laden with this peaceful agitation; though they resonated as more war, they were not. So I angered her through a polarization she wanted to tell me wasn’t fair. I wondered, ‘How could boxing ever become “an anthology sport?” and what gave her the ‘white privilege’ to say that’? Right away, the ‘racist’ wheels started turning in my head. It was now easy to see a grinning Kovalev directly behind me, in monkey t-shirts eating bananas, just as it was easy to (perhaps) misinterpret Her laser glare at Andre Ward. 

I judged the setting and produced the wrong scorecard, because it was based on perception — not reality. She knew something I could have never known, and it was because of a difference in class.

Only now does the bell ring. 

There’s a perception that exists within culture now that suggests “your truth” is ok, even though this may be in complete contrast to the actual “truth”. This pseudo-narcissism, is a byproduct of what many journalists (or, what’s left of the profession) will run into; be it a boxing press conference routinely sanitized by promoters, or during interviews by publicists concerned with the media war between tolerance vs. intolerance. If perception cannot be challenged, then reality cannot exist. In September 2019, I can perceive origins of peace from retired all-time great Andre Ward, just as I can see the reality of Sergey Kovalev and the end of war. But what’s interesting, is that though Kovalev is a shell of the fighter broken by Ward several weeks after that intense press conference, he stands on the precipice of being put back together one more time to face Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, for a lucrative Superfight beyond anything Ward will ever be a part of. Paradox.          

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It’s officially time to call Jeff Horn‘s July 2017 upset victory over Manny Pacquiao an overachievement and an aberration. After being dissected and decimated by WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford last year, we felt this was understandable, for few expected “The Hornet” to sting anything there while running into the buzzsaw that is Crawford. However, after Horn was basically beaten up in an all Aussie affair by Michael Zerafa at Bendigo Stadium, the former school teacher now has “1-Hit Wonder” written all over him. 

Horn had brief success in the 3rd round, but was really Bobblehead dolled throughout, as the bout was mercifully stopped from possible fatal injuries by his corner after the 9th round. Horn, who’d moved up to 160 in search of a money grab with either Gennady “GGG” Golovkin or the aforementioned Canelo, looked lethargic and shot by the bout’s end. 

From this perspective, he’s just a decent man of illusory grandeur who showed the after effects of war with a Filipino icon in Pacquiao and a future legend in Crawford.

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The year of 2019 will most likely end with a “Big Bang” well beyond theory, beginning with September 28 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Bruising IBF welterweight champion and Dallas Cowboys fan Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr (25-0, 21KOs) will apparently face a member of the Cleveland Browns in WBC welterweight champion “Showtime” Shawn Porter (30-2-1, 17KOs). This absolutely promises to be a war, in a fight that will undoubtedly hurt the feelings of peace sign holders. Porter (whose “When I Cut You” proclamation to Spence could be a Hollywood horror film title), will finally get a chance to silence “The Truth”, while making liars out of those (such as myself) who believe he has no chance to defeat Spence about three weeks from now. 

In case you missed it, check out their fiery Face To Face on Fox, which aired last Sunday. I did wonder about one thing, however, with regard to to match-up, as in: “Why didn’t PBC just have this fight in Dallas or Cleveland? Earlier this year, the Texas native Spence was a big PPV hit at Jerry’s World in his breakout performance against Mikey Garcia; while “Showtime” didn’t exactly conjure vintage thoughts of the Los Angeles Lakers against Yordenis Ugas. Did you mark that fight on your calendar? Porter, however, is a blue collar grinder from Cleveland, and with the arrival of a flashy Odell Beckham Jr and his party central quarterback Baker Mayfield inspiring an NFL fan renaissance, why not try this fight there or AT&T Stadium? It says here that because Porter Vs Ugas was a flop at Staples Center, Spence Vs Porter will question the buying power veracity of “The Truth”.  

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You may have noticed a graphic on display during the Adam Kownacki Vs Chris Arreola slugfest on August 3, which featured all of the champions of 147 lbs not named WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford. It was… disturbing. There are those who not only believe Crawford to be the very best welterweight in the world, but the very best fighter pound-for-pound on the planet. 

There are those who believe Bud’s on the on the ‘wrong side of the street’ with Bob Arum and Top Rank as opposed to PBC, or that he’s just being sabotaged by a vindictive Al Haymon. This is just a perspective, but I think Haymon’s problem is more related to an issue with the WBO, as opposed to Arum or Crawford. That, and the fact that “The Bobfather” hasn’t been able to stir heavy emotion among casuals with regards to Crawford, who must define himself in front of the cameras. Arum believes in Crawford, with all of the receipts to prove it. Recently, I received calls from people you know stating that “Bud isn’t getting the attention that Vasiliy Lomachenko or Tyson Fury gets” and I laughed. Have you ever seen Terence Crawford..

..in front of cameras or at press conferences? His personality is as big as a PGA Golfer’s, while in possession of a media countenance no different than that of a PBA Bowler. Oh, and he’s rumored to fight household name Egidigus Kavaliauskas on December 14 at Madison Square Garden. That Crawford is on the ‘wrong side of the street’ is debatable, but he’s definitely on the wrong side of the ocean in personality. Compared to the mystical nature of a Loma, whose accent accentuates an interesting form of English, Crawford comes off as an understated and annoyed stoic. And would it even be fair to compare him to Tyson Fury? He fucking upstages Apollo Creed. 

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And finally, the heavyweight championship rematch between Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua is officially on in Saudi Arabia, an emotionally war torn desert nation contending with overt sexism, racism, the ethnic cleansing of Yemen and the most inhumane geopolitical transformation in world history. It is a place of mayhem, where the word “Peace” is met with laughter through a cauldron of tears. Still, this is why an optimist bias will tell you that boxing is the greatest sport in the world, because the sweet science, through Matchroom Boxing and DAZN, has a chance to help turn crisis into opportunity, while positively reshaping history for Mexico and Great Britain. Name another sport that can do that. The two fighters met in Saudi Arabia last week to begin their press tour, designed to hype a very intriguing rematch on December 7. NY Fights had a chance to get a look at them in New York on Thursday. Ruiz, who insisted he isn’t a “1-Hit Wonder”, looked as if he’d better stop listening to and acting out “In Da Club” by 50 Cent; meanwhile, AJ sounded like a subdued Clubber Lang. That is, before he got to a party boy Rocky Balboa living it up.

Joshua (above) has notably “beefed” with Lennox Lewis over the ‘clown’ reference hurled at the all-time great, even as he wades into territory Lewis once occupied. After being drowned at the hands of Hasim Rahman owed to the making of Ocean’s 11, its worth mentioning that not a lot of people were happy that fight took place in Brakpan, South Africa. But as Lennox would later point out, “That’s what being the heavyweight champion of the world is all about.” Andy Ruiz Vs Anthony Joshua 2, the event, can very fairly make the same assertion. Lewis and Rahman ultimately agreed to a rematch at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, where Lewis so comprehensively beat and KO’d Rahman in a fashion so dramatic, that the first fight is now historically considered an aberration. It came to define the now heralded legacy of Lewis, which really happened because of an unlikely rematch. With that in mind, just how prescient could Eddie Hearn prove to be when he made the following remarks in a November 2018 RING article titled “Fast Eddie” by Gareth A. Davies:

“It’s heavyweight boxing and it can change with one punch. A loss doesn’t define you. A loss can sometimes open up an incredible career and legacy. Great heavyweights have been beaten and come back to regain their titles; that’s part of the journey. It’s not just about keeping AJ safe and winning. He wants a legacy. DAZN don’t want him just knocking people over. They want real fights and AJ wants real fights. We appreciate that AJ could lose along the way. He could lose, but win a rematch and be even bigger.”

Not even Amnesty International can hate on that.

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To my readers, if you’d like to support independent media, please click on this link. A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

If war is researching and writing the material, then my own peace would be sharing the book with my family.

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About John Gatling

John Gatling

Senior correspondent for NY Fights and author of upcoming book, "The Fist Club." Conscious indie recording artist "T@z" and humanist advocate for the Green Party.

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