ESPN: Your Boxing Authority...WHATEVER!

08.12.03 - By Carl M. Rice, Jr.: ESPN used to be one of my favorite channels on television. They show just about every sport that a fan can ask for. Of course they show the usual suspects like football, basketball, baseball, and hockey. But they also show horse racing, tennis, golf, drag racing, and soccer. Hell, they even show competitive events like the annual spelling bee, chess, and who can forget the World Series of Poker? But there is one sport that has been around longer than all of these that gets much less respect that any of these, and this is why I take issue with ESPN calling themselves ďYour Boxing AuthorityĒ.

As I stated earlier, I used to watch ESPN everyday. Sportcenter is where I would get my daily intake of sports information. I would sit through smug sports anchors acting as if they are doing a stand up routine, guys pumping out clever (in their mind) catch phrases like they were gas station attendants, and endless promos to watch whatever new show they happen to bring to the viewing public, not to mention the lame ABC shows that will be on that week. But when it comes to boxing, they disrespect it so evident you can smell it. Iím not going to mention any names, but on Sundays, just listen to the regular anchor when there was a boxing show the night before. You get the impression that he not only doesnít like boxing, but he doesnít even think they should be talking it at all, if they talk about it. And if you are looking for coverage on fights coming up that weekend, unless it is Oscar De La Hoya or Mike Tyson (whom they talk so negatively about but canít stop showing his every move) who is fighting, forget about it! And consider this: they wonít talk about upcoming fights but they will promote their Sunday night NFL game to no end, which is for the most part a showcase of two teams that donít have a chance of making the playoffs.

This is no way for the Boxing Authority to be acting, but they have even taken themselves to a new low, taking away rights fee for their boxing shows. I find this despicable when you consider that:

-They pay the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB hundreds of millions of dollars for the right to show those games, but they donít even want to pay the $50,000 per boxing show. Furthermore, all of these sports have some of the same issues that boxing has. Need I bring up rape charges, steroids, murders, and assault and battery that these leagues have dealt with and are currently dealing with?

-They continues to produce poor quality movies that really have no interest to anyone except for the director and producer of the movie. I mean, that Bobby Knight movie was terrible, but I watched it because they played promos for the movie 5 months before it debuted and it was stuck in my conscience. Now Iíll never get those precious two hours of my life back.

-Boxing used one of their highest rated weekly shows, certainly higher rated that those weak NFL games they show on Sunday nights. The addition of Tuesday Night Fights two years ago was a symbol that boxing was doing well.

Why have the ratings been going down lately? Because the only fights they have been showing lately has been a joke. Speaking of jokes, why am I subjected to watching Michael Stewart once every month or two? Because the in-house promoter gets to put on all of his fighters. Now this is not to disrespect ďNo JokeĒ Stewart, but this is the same show that televised Ward-Burton. That fight alone would make sure that fans would tune in to watch quality fights. But Stewart v. Chucky T is not a quality fight. For more information about how ESPN runs itís boxing shows, I implore fans to check out Charles Jayís wonderful book; chapters of the book can be found on This goes in depth about why boxing shows on ESPN are at the low-level quality they are at now.

One of the biggest reasons that were given for the decrease in boxingís budget was that they couldnít find advertisers. Well, who would want to advertise with boxing with fights like Stewart v T? Iím not saying to bring fans Gonzales v Letterlough every week (well, it would be nice), but I have caught myself watching Telefutura fights more than ESPN fights lately. You mean to tell me that Telefutura can afford to put on better fights than ďThe Worldwide Leader in SportsĒ? Well, at least my Spanish is getting better.

But ESPN and ESPN2 arenít the only vehicles that the Disney offspring uses to put boxing to the side.

ESPN Classics, which typically put past boxing shows on display Tuesday nights, purchased a huge boxing collection from Bill Cayton several years ago, but what is shown week after week? Old Ali or Tyson fights. Now, itís not like those are bad fights, but with such a massive collection, it just doesnít make sense that fans should be subjected to watching the same fights over and over again.

Iím not sure what can be done now that the decision is already made, but I will say one thing: I, for one, will not watch ESPN again if boxing is not shown. I have already cut down on my Sportscenter intake because of the way that the anchors talk about boxing like itís the plague. I take this new action as an insult and I hope that boxing fans can somehow convince ESPN that this is a huge mistake on their part. We as boxing fans cannot take this lying down.

Questions? Comments? Think I should go swimming with cement shoes? Please e-mail me at

Article posted on 08.12.2003

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