10.19.04 – By Chris Acosta: It never fails that whenever I mention my interest in the sport of boxing does some ignorant soul try to enlighten me on the sweet sciences moral shortcomings. I’ve heard it all (as many of you have, I’m sure): “The fights are fixed. The judges are paid off. Don King is connected to the mob.”
As much as I try and defend the honor of boxing, I have found that my stance is often ignored and with good reason I suppose: For every super fight that lives up to expectations, there are multiple fiascos to clog up the tunnel of hope.
Just when you think boxing has a pair of unmarked eyes with which to see its way forward, its inevitable curse blackens them again, and always with enough impact to make headlines. Like most aspects of life that I find unfair, I’ve decided to simply accept the sports’ status quo and make best with that we have. There’ll always be some level of corruption that we as fans will still be bitching about in 25 years so it makes no use to complain. But, there are a few things that are still within wishing distance that would make boxing a much nicer place to visit. Here are a few.
Ring Logos: I can’t imagine how much a ring center advertisement costs but apparently it covers the medical expense of a twisted ankle. It’s not enough that a fighter has to worry about two fists and Eugenia Williams sitting ringside, now a guy who depends on movement to win has to ignore a corners plea to “keep it in the middle of the ring.”
Chest-High Trunks: The recent fashion trend of low-cut pants evidently has not reached the boxing world. Particularly with heavyweights, it’s common to see the trunks pulled so high that you’d think you were on the set of one of those Dolemite movies.
The same old advice against a southpaw: Ever notice that whenever there’s an orthodox fighting a lefty, the corner men, announcer and your uncle swear that keeping your lead foot outside of a southpaws’ guarantees success? Hmmm…if it’s that simple, then why does a small, underpowered guy like Chris Byrd drive such larger men crazy? Why did a pear-bodied golfer like Corrie Sanders ruin the supposedly more gifted Wladimir Klitschko? My hunch is that there’s a whole lot more to it than that and besides if two boxers are continually trying to keep their lead foot outside of the others’, wouldn’t they both repeatedly end up falling through the ropes on the same side of the ring?
Felix Trinidads’ Low Blows: Look, I absolutely love “Tito” and no one was happier than me to see him back but for Gods sake! Does this future hall-of-famer really need to dig his ugly left hooks into an opponents procreation station? At this rate, Trinidad will have rendered more men impotent than micro wave ovens. I first noticed it in his welterweight defense against Oba Carr and from then on it was painfully obvious against Hugo Pineda, David Reid, Fernando Vargas, William Joppy(Yea, I saw that one) and then Ricardo Mayorga. Kinda reminds me of a certain Polish heavyweight who took way more heat for the same crime.
Rumors of Lennox Lewis’ Return: The big guy from Britain (or Jamaica or Canada) was a class act who accomplished far more than any of us could have imagined and after so long at the top, I don’t blame him for not wanting to put himself through another hellish encounter with Vitali Klitschko, a guy who’s about as stubborn as Michael Katz at the dinner table. So enough already, leave him alone and just enjoy the ensuing pecking order.
Jim Gray: To say this guy got the short end of the stick on personality would be complimentary. He gets no stick at all and for those who think that’s a mean thing to say and want to know how I’d feel if someone said that about me, well, my Mom already sent me my birthday card, so there.
“The Next Great Champ.” No, not the Oscar De La Hoya produced reality show, but the premature anointment of an unproven contender. It’s the verbal equivalent of a voodoo doll. Think Michael Grant, Wlad Klitschko, Zab Judah and then add Jermain Taylor to that list if HBO keeps cursing the guy with their shameless adoration. And besides, if Taylor does indeed become middleweight champ, I can name a whole slew of guys one weight class south that could threaten to make that title reign a short one (Winky Wright, Vargas, De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Vernon Forrest, Kassim Ouma) if Trinidad doesn’t get to him first.
More of Ann Wolfe: My God. For those of you who missed it let me simply say that the right hand that Wolfe used to put the old nighty-nite on Vonda Ward would have hurt a male boxer of the same weight. It was a cannon and hopefully enough to convince Laila Ali to put the stinger down and float off like a butterfly.
More Brawlers: I remember watching Frank “The Animal” Fletcher and John “The Beast” Mugabi on TV growing up as a kid and loved their reckless abandon.
But something has struck me as of late: Boxing is becoming too technical. When Mexican fighters are circling and jabbing, then you know there’s something fishy. All I hear nowadays is how there aren’t any great teachers which may be true but if that’s the case, then why are we seeing less of those wild punch-outs that epitomized the 50’s thru the 80’s? To make a point I watched several Arturo Gatti fights (pre-Buddy McGirt) and compared them to some tapes of Gene Fulmer, Carmen Basilio and Dick Tiger. Believe it or not, Gatti actually jabbed more than the above three (about the same as Tiger) and looked just as skilled. And please don’t tell me that “Thunder” wasn’t as tough. For funs sake, let’s hope that Jeff Lacy has starts a trend of loading up on every punch and that Ricky Hatton and Samuel Peter become household names.
Sean O’Grady’s Intrusion: It’s one thing to interview a fighter after he’s gone 12 hard rounds, it’s quite another to do it during the fight which is what this genius tried a few years ago. One notable moment came during the Corey Sanders – Oleg Maskaev fight when a fatigued Sanders told a questioning O’Grady, “Get outta here man!” Still ,after that failed experiment, Sean still bugs corner men who are trying to watch their fighter by asking the most ludicrously obvious surface questions. Sean, stay in your seat and wait till it’s over buddy.