What If The Inmates Really Did Run The Asylum?

02.06.04 - By Lee Hayes: What you are about to read may not sit well with traditional boxing fans. It may not even sit well with new purveyors of the sweet science. The whole concept may be just a little bit too much “American Idol” in nature, but it is not meant to be. It’s more or less an attempt to try fix a few of the things I wish were different about the sport.

The other night, I was grumbling about the usual beefs I have about boxing to a good friend of mine, when he finally stopped me in my tracks with the following question, “Okay, so that’s what you don’t like, how can it be fixed?” I responded as if it was common knowledge, “it can’t, this is the way it’s always been”.

We broke our peeves down in to the following categories:

1. Many super fights never take place, because of boxing politics. How some fighters ducked dangerous opponents. And the ridiculous mandatory fights taking the place of the fights that fans really wanted.

2. Fighters that refuse to fight out of their hometowns (i.e. Sven Ottke). Thus always maintaining the home court advantage.

3. The same half-blind/half-crooked judges that seem to keep popping up during important bouts, even after submitting criminal score cards that have tainted the sport.

4. Twelve rounds, it just does not seem to cut it in thrilling title bouts that are missing that definitive conclusion. (i.e. Pacquiao vs. Marquez or either of the Barrera vs. Morales bouts.)

5. The obvious one, the crooked organizations and their blatant briberies hidden under the name “sanctioning fees”. They all need to go.

6. Various details for a bout. The size of the ring. The type of gloves. The size of the gloves. Who will enter the ring first? Currently, the house fighter, or the perennial favorite has had the choice of these things. (When George Forman fought during his comeback, he practically dictated all of these things and it really gives an edge to the fighters calling all the shots.)

7. Padded records. Yeah, I understand that fighters need to hone their skills on lesser opponents, but to a point. We have all witnessed bouts that were such mismatches that we had to be concerned for the “opponents” life. There is no reason for any fighter with an extensive amateur background and twenty professional fights under his belt to be beating up on some poor slob with a record of 5-20 (1). It happens, way too often.

8. Outrageous Pay Per View prices for uncompetitive fights and mismatches.

My proposition is that we go to a panel. The panel would consist of 100 experts worldwide. The number isn’t the important part, it could be increased to make sure all is fair; I would want every nation with fighters represented. The rating system would be based on Ring Magazine, as it has shown the type of non-partisanship that would be required, and the magazine has a deep respect for fighters from around the world. They would have to extend their top 10 ratings to top 100, maybe 200. The Ring champion would be the only champion recognized. There would be no sanctioning fees required for any fighter or any bout. Every month, the panelists/experts would receive a ballot. The list would contain the top 100-200 fighters in every division. The list would mention if the fighter were ready to accept a new fight, injured, already scheduled for a bout, etc. Each expert would list their top picks for bouts to take place. They would be able to select their choice for a location, the ring size, the type and size of gloves to be used, the ref, the judges etc. A non-partisan agency would be in charge of calculating the votes and coming up with the most common consensus. The fighters would then be notified of their up coming bout.

Obviously this system is not perfect, but bugs could be worked out. The obvious problem is the wretched leaches of boxing, the promoters. Right now, they are the ones that decide all these things. They have all the power. They are also the cretins that are responsible for guys like Peter McNeely going undefeated in over 30 fights and getting a title shot. They are the reason we have to pay huge PPV fees to see Bernard Hopkins beat up on someone like Morrade Hakkar. They need to go. Under my system, a fighter like Wladimir Klitschko would have been exposed 3 years before he was, when he was beating up Eastern Block taxi drivers on a semi-monthly basis. We would have to devise a proper way to assess the purse for a fight, but this could also be done in a similar fashion. (It may sound bizarre or unreal, but the current system where a company like HBO or a promoter like Don King is able to set the amount of money a fighter can make allows for way too many conflicts of interest and too much of the money goes to the promoter and cable company.) In my system, as stated, the amount of rounds would be determined by a vote, however one set of rules would be a constant. The title bouts for the Ring championship belts would have to be 15 rounds. All other rules could be voted on.

It’s my opinion, that in the hands of the experts (whom at heart are all boxing fans like ourselves) we would be treated to the best fights. Promoters be-damned. No more “sorry, Oscar can’t fight your guy, because Oscar’s a Top Rank fighter and your guy is an HBO guy”, or “sorry, I know both these guys fight for Top Rank, but one is promoted by Gary Shaw and the other by Frank Warren, and they are currently not speaking to each other so these guys can’t fight”. Personally, I’m sick of that crap. In my opinion fighters would still make as much money, perhaps more, because there would be no sanctioning fees. There would be no case of a Don King getting 10 dollars for every dollar his star fighters pulls in.

Before you decide to just rip in to this idea, please give it some thought, try to add some of your own personal ideas and feel free to offer suggestions for improvements.

Article posted on 02.06.2004

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