There’s an apocryphal story about the first meeting when Bernie Ecclestone took over Formula 1. As it goes, Enzo Ferrari dragged the dwarvish Brit into his office to let him know what was what. Enzo slammed his hand on the desk and said, “THIS is the sport!” then tapped his finger under the desk and declared, “This is the business.”
The moral of said story is that the moneyed concerns should interfere with the product as little as possible. In our sport, the fights are the product, and much like racing, you never fully know what you’ll get until they are in the process of happening. What you do know is that if you’re more concerned with the business than with the sport, something has gone seriously wrong.
A by-product of the information age is that just about everything you want to know is available. The last few years, corporate and legal intrigue have provided for more copy than good fights, and somewhere along the way it became a topic of debate amongst fans. If you’d have told me ten or fifteen years ago that fucking pay-per-view buys would be argued about, I’d have horse laughed, but here we are. For fuck sake, people picked sides in the Golden Boy-Premier Boxing Champions lawsuit.
A great deal of the bullshit with which are dealing is down to the business. Undefeated records and investments are being protected at all costs, and it’s starving fans. I’m keenly aware that there is a process to building a fighter as an attraction, but we’re getting robbed of seeing fighters built as as actual, you know, fighters. Fighting bums doesn’t prepare you to fight at the world class level — ask Gary Russell, Jr. It also doesn’t make anyone give a shit about seeing you fight.
This isn’t just happening at the top, either. Last weekend I ventured out to see a small card in Wilson, N.C., that was put on by Top Catz Promotions. It was about an hour drive from my home in Raleigh, which isn’t too bad. Given the industry veterans involved, I was hopeful for the card. The Bill Ellis convention center was filled to capacity (about 1,200 people), and the crowd was definitely excited to be there. The fights were not good, though. I’ve been to small shows where every bout ended in a stoppage, but nothing like this. With a couple of exceptions, the B-side fighters had no business being in the ring. Watching the crowd and winner celebrate after the loser obviously quit was pretty fucking surreal.
I’ve seen and read the justifications and different takes from the parties concerned, but I don’t really care who was at fault. Without risk, there can be no growth. A fighter won’t know how good they can be without an opponent who can take them out of their comfort zone. Imagine all the times you run into someone after years and think, “They haven’t changed a bit.” It’s seldom a compliment, even when you mean it as such. Most of us need to go from water wings to the kiddie pool, but occasionally you have to get thrown in the deep end, and amidst the flailing arms and legs, you’ll figure out how to doggy paddle.
- Can we all agree that Luis Collazo is Butch from “Pulp Fiction?” Pride may have been fucking with him during his bout with Keith Thurman 18 months ago, before he abruptly quit, but it was running the show last Thursday when he knocked out Sammy Vazquez on PBC on Fox Sports 1. The right hook with which he ended the fight was gorgeous, and a great reminder that while he was never world class, even at 35 Collazo will still run through anyone who isn’t.
- The delay/cancellation of Miguel Cotto vs James Kirkland is good news, I guess. I wasn’t interested in the fight, particularly with it being on pay-per-piew. The rumor mill is suggesting that Kell Brook or Juan Manuel Marquez are being targeted as Cotto opponents. I’d rather see him face Brook at junior middleweight. It’s a better fight.
- The ongoing legal wrangling between Deontay Wilder and Alexander Povetkin is really fucking tedious. Yada yada yada, clean sport. Wilder can’t fight for shit and Povetkin needs a sneakier “nutritionist.” Fight someone decent or fuck off.
- Paul Spadafora remains teflon. I know he’s a fuck up, but he’s our fuck up.
- Word is that Adrien Broner requested that the weight limit for his fight with Adrian Granados (which is nine days from now) go from 142 pounds to the welterweight limit of 147. What an undisciplined fucktard.