The aborted Pacquaio-Mayweather scrap underscored the common perception that even with big-ticket stars occasionally fighting in well-hyped matches, boxing, which is oddly referred to as a “sweet science,” is on the wane.
Somehow, the game that has produced boxing greats like Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Pancho Villa and Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde, is living to its ugly tag as the ‘red district of sports,’ an appellation that carries some truth in it.
In fact, ten (10) observations have come out of the aborted setto that will forever stain whatever credibility is left in boxing.
1. Promoters, instead of pushing for sound and reasonable terms, have instead become victims of boxers who use their superstar status in imposing their will. Golden Boy Promotions (GBP) big boss Oscar de la Hoya, a former boxer turn promoter, leads in this department.
2. Boxers, adored as ‘sports icons,’ now use popularity as leverage in determining which rules must be applied in fights involving them. Obviously the reason for this gambit is to get the best deal while finding ways to scrap the negotiation when the odds are against them. Floyd Mayweather Jr. tried this ploy but it backfired on him.
3. In a reversal of roles, commissions that conduct drug tests to ensure parity in sports and to uncover the cheats have suddenly become suspects because the athletes who are supposed to respect the rules of engagement in their the licenses are now acting like super commissions. In the Pacquaio-Mayweather fallout, this was significantly highlighted.
4. Boxing, supposedly an honorable and fair sport, is now host to dubious characters. Some sectors say it started during the promotions heyday of Don King but today it includes figures like convicted drug dealer Floyd Mayweather Sr. Is this what they say that ‘crimes do pay’?
5. Prominent scribes have, consciously or not, joined the tabloid world by preaching lies and gossips. In particular, Teddy Atlas of ESPN.com and Tim Smith of New York Daily News irresponsibly exposed the non-existent Bob Arum email that fueled a tsunami of conjectures that added muck to the befuddled Pacquaio-Mayweather negotiations.
6. Boxing organizations, regardless of age, standing, and claims of credibility, have finally been exposed as nothing but money-earning blokes that survive through generous title fees and commissions. While they have regulations to impose, they are no match to arrogant boxers and cunning promoters who dictate the terms. This makes ratings and rankings look like jumbled up figures and alphabets.
7. In a supposedly gentleman’s sport, the doctrine of arrogance has been reaffirmed in the aborted Pacquaio-Mayweather tiff. Floyd Jr. did not only call Pacquiao a coward, he also accused the Filipino boxer, albeit indirectly, of drug use. Whether the imputations were for hype or simple braggadocio, the trash-talks only added muck and stink to an already ‘dying’ boxing.
8. Sport events, even with leading promoters like GBP and Top Rank Promotions, are still beholden to the sound of cash registers, the terms of high-stake casino financiers, and the caprices of boxers with big egos.
9. To be popular is not just about having an enduring skill, experience and diligence. Greatness, as it is described today, can be achieved via a short route where boxers, trainers, and promoters connive to create a convenient atmosphere for their protégés. Having achieved that, even patsies and nincompoops can become great sport icons.
10. With boxers personally choosing their preferred opponents and imposing the rules that would be applied in their matches, the likelihood of unifying world title belts, more than ever, has become a distant dream.
Just where the sport of boxing is headed to, the signs on the wall should provide us the clues.