Boxing writers ready to dump the sport … Almost

I was ready to leave boxing as a writer. I had submitted my painful, heartfelt resignation, said goodbye and all. But Sunday morning, in the wake of the Loma/Haney result, I came to a different conclusion. I will stay and fight.

What am I fighting for? Not to sound too grandiose, but the very soul of boxing.

And look, my ego isn’t so big that I think I can win this fight as a writer with strong journalistic ethics on my own. In fact, due to some personal concerns, I will still be taking a step back for a while, but on the other side of that hiatus, I intend to return in full force.

Boxing is a joke, and not a good one, far too often

But here is the hard truth. I just decided, however briefly, to leave the sport after it had already left me. Boxing has always been corrupt and inappropriate, but it has become a joke.

I don’t want to become a consummate miserablist when it comes to writing about sports. I want to find good things to say about the boxing world, but I’ll be damned if the current state doesn’t make it difficult. And here’s the thing about being a boxing writer: This is a sport you really have to immerse yourself in to be able to write about it effectively. To put it more bluntly, you can’t be a casual and be a good writer about the sport.

For far too long I have struggled to care about a sport that doesn’t care about itself. There are basically three types of fights right now: fake fights (hello, Jake Paul), bad fights (dare anything), and almost no fights between the best in the best weight class by weight class.

Jake Paul might be the most famous American boxer right now…

Throw in the bad officiating (more on that later), the bad refing (more on that later too), and everything else that has plagued the sport for years, and I’ve struggled to find enough positives to make up for the alleged negatives.

Now I know some people out there might think Tank vs. Garcia or Loma vs. Haney is great fights, but I disagree. I think there is a difference between a good fight and a name war. Both of these fights are name fights. You know the people coming into the ring by their relentless marketing and (Loma aside) by their flamboyant records achieved against lesser lights.

The best don’t fight the best often enough

Take the Tank/Garcia fight. Until Tank knocked Garcia out with a body shot, neither of these two fighters had a single signature win on their resumes. Hell, I’m not so sure Tank does that now even after beating Garcia.

All these young bucks are so protected on the way up. And you know what? I get it. Promoters are protecting their investments and fighters are trying to hold onto their zero in their loss column. But it wasn’t always like this.

Promoters used to chase great matchups, not only because they believed in the ability of the boxer they were backing, but they also believed in their ability to sign more big talent if their capacity broke. And make no mistake, there is a lot of great talent in boxing right now, it’s just that it largely avoids each other.

There is absolutely no good reason why Fury hasn’t lined up Usyk and Crawford hasn’t set up a date with Spence. This sport is turning into an articles-only version of Playboy. Boxing mocks those of us who watch it.

The masses were stuck in inertia

But what I find most depressing is how easily the boxing public accepts it. Think about it, can you ever imagine a time in boxing when Jake Paul would be the face of the sport?

Exhibition fights between semi-pros are one of the biggest attractions in boxing. And that’s a problem for the sport.

Floyd Mayweather and John Gotti III on April 27 push

Floyd Mayweather and John Gotti III on April 27 push. A lack of super fights has opened up for shows like this

Assuming these shows aren’t scripted (and assuming they carry a lot of weight in this sentence), that’s the only thing that separates these fake fights from WWE.

And I know, I know, I sound like the old man yelling about kids on his front lawn. Maybe that’s true. Maybe my longing for the days when fighters like Ali, Frazier and Foreman would take on all comers is picturesque. But it wasn’t that long ago that fighters still did. Tyson, Lewis, Holyfield, Hagler, Leonard and so on. They were all brave enough to test themselves and believe they would make it. For 30-40 years that was how boxing was.

Now, I don’t mean to imply that the sport of boxing has ever been pure or beautiful. Promoters have often been (and continue to be) mean, fighters are lucky to leave the sport with half their minds intact, and judging and judging has been historically abysmal.

But compensations always abounded as great fighters wanted to fight each other. The level of ducking has never been as bad as it is now. Back in the day, if you ducked an opponent long enough, you were shamed into fighting them.

There is no shame now, and that is what is shameful.

Boxing had a true golden age with Muhammad Ali leading the way

The good old boxing was so much better, it feels like it’s demoralizing how far down we’ve come

To make matters worse, BWAA is a complete embarrassment.

Taking aim at the Boxing Writers Association of America

Their website looks like something a semi-talented 13-year-old created in 1998. And if you go through their currently listed members, they’re full of writers who barely write about the sport at all, and some of whom I couldn’t find a single byline during the last two years.

This is an organization that is meant to support those who write about the sport. But despite writing about boxing for nearly a decade, I was far more prolific than the average BWAA writer, and according to my supportive editors, well enough, I was rejected.

Which is fine, regardless. The criteria for membership invitations to any club can be mysterious. But considering how low their standards are for those they’ve let in, well, I find it baffling.

They even blocked me when I tweeted that their website sucks. And again, it is. Just look at it. They’ve basically become the equivalent of a blue tick on Twitter.

What it was once worth has been so devalued that not being a member is almost a badge of honor.

DAZN has not performed as expected

Then you have DAZN, a platform that was supposed to revolutionize access to sports.

Aside from the crappy quality of their streaming, the coverage often borders on the unprofessional. The ringside team is weak, and, in what I can only describe as woefully, they often lack interpreters in the corners of boxers who don’t speak English, yet, somehow, they still take you into those corners as if they believe that you can pick up another language on the fly.

For all their amateur coverage, they charge you $99 a year for the right to watch their smaller fights, and the option to pay a little less than their normal fee for their PPV fights.

All of that was bad enough, but next year they’re raising their price to $224 a year, a 226% price increase. No fucking sale. Then there was this neck.

Still, I could look past BWAA and DAZN if there were common reasons to tune out.

Boxing often seems dead

It would be too broad a statement to say boxing is dead, but it’s either on life support or turning into something I no longer recognize. Anyway, it’s no better than the living dead for me at the moment. It may be upright and moving, but you can see the flesh falling off the limbs. A corpse is just a corpse, a friend told me recently, and if you spend too much time around a corpse, it starts to rot and stink. Boxing rots and stinks.

Let’s take what happened last Saturday night in the Loma/Haney fight. While I think the guy who outworked, got out and surprised his opponent should have won (crazy me), the judges admittedly saw the melee differently, as did some of my boxing writers.

And look, reasonable minds can disagree on a hotly contested contest. But here’s what gives me red ass: of the three judges on the panel last night, one of them was Dave Moretti.

Dave Moretti, boxing referee

Moretti’s card on April 22 raised eyebrows…but there he was again, doing his thing, on May 20

A man who just less than a month ago scored a round in the Tank/Garcia fight as 10-10 even though Tank had deposited Garcia on his back in said round. Moretti should never have been allowed to referee a bum fight on such a questionable card, but there he was last night, once again, making a mockery of the sport by making Haney’s dominating 10th round clear by Lomas.

Besides, we’re only a week away from Tony Weeks premature interruption in favor of Rolly Romero over Ismael Barroso. A fight where the judges had Barroso up on all three cards, and while Romero had a good moment in the fight, Barroso was in no way going down or unable to defend himself.

And yet, I suspect in the near future, I will see Tony Weeks in the ring officiating a fight of significance.

We are too often a joke, but it is not funny

Weeks and Moretti have both proven themselves unworthy and unqualified to be anywhere near a ring that isn’t on one of their fingers. It’s a joke, and not a good one.

There is such a thing as credibility. It should matter. And while I will be taking some sort of hiatus from writing for now, I have decided to return because boxing needs more writers like my brothers at NEW fight. They consider me one of them, so I don’t think just by my own belief that I give this sport a measure of credibility.

It may be a losing battle, but it’s one we, and I, will continue to fight. Although a personal sabbatical/cleansing is in order.

See you on the other side.

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