Boxing

Sugar 'N Spice: Feeling the same way about Investigators and experts as a fire hydrant does a dog

26.09.04 - By Bert Randolph Sugar, Sr. Boxing Analyst at-large for CMXsports - If you but watched the U.S. Open tennis quarterfinal match between Serena Williams and Jennifer Capriati you saw three blown calls by the umpire which decided the match. Or the Olympic all-around gymnastic event in which American Paul Hamm won the gold medal after a scoring error cost the Korean his chance for gold. But had these miscarriages of sports justice occurred in a boxing ring there would have been immediate calls for an investigation of some sort by some elected official somewhere.

Seems that every time a real or perceived injustice happens in a boxing ring some official begins screaming like a youngster with green-apple colic and fasterthanyoucanreadthis initiates an investigation. Over the years investigations of boxing bouts seem to come off as often as prom dresses in June as officials with neither a tacit nor tactical understanding of the sport call for a hearing to investigate something that doesn't strike them as being what they saw.

Why is it that boxing continues to be the sandbox of sports, treated as a widow and orphan oppressor with a slight case of Bright's Disease thrown in for good measure? You'd think with all the great problems that heave and lather our country they'd have something better to do, especially since boxing seems to be one of the most clean-shaven of all sports when it comes to controversy.

But even so, going almost back to Cain and Abel, someone always seems to be trotting out an investigation of boxing, almost like the ceremonial showing of the queen's jewels. And most of them, with all the subtlety of a community bedpan, to keep the investigator's name in the news so his constituents know he's doing "something."

Thus, in recent years, we've had investigations of the second Ali-Liston fight in 1965, the James Toney-Dave Tiberi fight in '92 and the Lennox Lewis-Evander Holyfield fight in 1999 et cetera, etc., etc. (Hell, even Oscar De La Hoya called for an investigation after his second fight with Sugar Shane Mosley.)

Is it because boxing is not an "establishment" sport that so many people find something wrong with it? Or that it has no central office to settle the matters "in-house," like the abovementioned tennis and Olympic squabbles? Or perhaps because it's so highly visible that people tend to look facts in the back of the neck.

Granted, watching a boxing bout requires some degree of skill. And most of those who find that the results do not quite agree with what they think they saw have to place to blame on someone, not themselves. Subjectivity being what it is, we can all, in reality's continuing war with fiction, read different things into what we see.

Maybe, yes, the fault lies with the judges who are, after all, human, and see what they want or wish. And sometimes the fault lies with the announcers. Take the Hugo Corro-Vito Antuofermo middleweight title fight back in 1979. The bout, held in Monaco, was telecast by ABC's "Wide World of Sports," with Howard Cosell at the mike. Cosell, who knew absolutely nothing about boxing but wasn't afraid to tell one and all what he didn't know in polysyllabic terms, spent the entire afternoon hanging around Prince Rainer rather than studying the two combatants. And so it was that as the fight progressed Cosell proceeded to tell the listening audience that Corro was dominating the action. That is until someone tugged his sleeve to tell him that Antuofermo was winning. Then, and only then, did Cosell change his nasal tune and inform the viewers that Antuofermo, the ultimate winner, was winning.

Announcers tend to go through verbal footwork to tell you that "Ring Generalship" is one of the criteria for scoring and then proceed to define the term in words General George Patton couldn't understand. And then there's their definition of something called "Effective Aggression," which would give the round to Goliath for falling forward, dead, at the feet of David.

No, if you want to see a fight--I mean, really see it--pay less attention to the men behind the mike than your own eyes. More oft than not you'll know what's going on in the ring as well as they do. And never-ever pay attention to those infernal investigations of some "wrong doing." Those are for window dressing only. It's you, the fan, who will know what's right. And what's wrong with the sport.

Bert Randolph Sugar, CMXsports Sr. Analyst At-Large, called "The Guru of Boxing," has a new book Bert Sugar On Boxing," (or "The Best of Bert Sugar, The Worst of Bert Sugar, What the Hell's the Difference?), published by The Lyon Press and currently available at Borders, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com

Article posted on 26.09.2004



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