(Photo credit: Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Roc Nation Sports) Call it a cliché, Newton’s third law of motion or Karma or whatever you like; it’s a fact of daily life, in all forms, that for every action there is a reaction.
This is especially true of professional sports in which human beings have forever sought to gain an unfair advantage in a perceived fair world.
There are few sports to which this statement can be most aptly applied down the years than boxing. That’s not to say other sports don’t have their problems, corruption is of course prevalent in almost all walks of life and all forms of business in modern society.
Gaining an unfair advantage is less a choice and more of a human condition passed down through generations, predicated by the need to win and ultimately earn.
Boxing, with its loose business regulations and fragmented nature is, has and probably always will be ripe for exploitation.
So, when finally after years of fans, pundits and fighters alike screaming for regular big fights between top names and the promoters begin to come through, you have to expect a reaction.
How can they make the big fights that the fans want and still achieve that edge in which the result has not been preordained?
Well, they introduce a method of regulating a fighters preferred weight and ultimately performance by exorcising that time honoured corruption device – money.
Step in the catchweight contest.
I wrote an article not long ago, which discussed the impact this loophole will have on the boxing history books in future arguments, as to the standing of a fighter within his own era. However, when you look at the two ‘big’ fights scheduled for the weekend you have to believe that if this is not arrested more is at stake than the merits of a fighter achievements.
It’s a reputational issue and one the sport can ill afford, especially with all the excellent work which has taken place to the return it to the top of programming schedules across the globe.
This Saturday we will see two perfect examples of fights that should not be happening in their presented form. Fights that on paper look appealing – Broner v Porter, more so than Ward v Smith it must be said – but in actuality were heavily weighted in one direction when the ink hit that paper.
A closer look at the ‘Battle for Ohio’ will reveal that Shawn Porter a large welterweight who has fought at light middleweight and higher in his career has been forced to lose 3lbs extra to face Adrian Broner at 144lbs.
This is a fight we want to see, but this cannot be the real Shawn Porter and regardless of the result, the bets have been hedged before the contest.
I don’t feel for Shawn Porter, he has accepted the financial compensation and as a result cannot complain. However, the fans lose out because what they are seeing is not a true reflection of both fighters’ ability at their peak.
To a lesser extent we have Andre Ward up against Paul Smith in a fight that in many peoples eyes should not be taking place, such is the gap in class between the two. That being said, that has not stopped team Ward – still WBA super middleweight champion – stipulating a 172lbs catchweight following a 19-month absence from the ring.
How many more advantages does the guy want?
Paul Smith obviously thought the same thing and weighed in 4.4lbs overweight for the fight that is still expected to proceed.
I don’t condone fighters coming into bouts overweight, but it is becoming more common. Once you introduce grey areas to the rules, then those grey areas will be extended and abused.
We as fans just want a fair sport whose laws stand up to accountability and one of those laws must be the operation of a defined and strict weight class system. If Adrian Broner refuses to fight at 147lbs, then he should remain at 140lbs and stop chasing that dollar.
In calling for big fights we have got what we asked for, but with a twist. We need to demand those big fights again and insist upon them being fair. We don’t need to see Broner v Porter, when we could easily see Broner v Crawford at 140lbs and Porter v Maidana at 147lbs.
Hopefully putting a stop to catchweight boxing is the next reaction, but then you know what follows that.