The Promoter could tell you that the long layoff this column ends was due to prioritizing, distractions, the monetarily uncompensated nature of this gig, and maybe just a wee touch of sloth, or if you want to minimize the moral judgment inherent in that word, a case of the old postmodern malaise.
As a window into the boxing world, however, we feel obligated to offer an excuse worthy of the modern Sweet Science: Let’s call it a “strained left middle knuckle” on top of some “serious dehydration resulting from a long Tuesday night.”
Alas, it’s been a slow start to the 2012 boxing year, and inspiration to write my way through these serious physical obstacles has been lacking. The premiere early-year matchup, February’s rematch of welterweights Andre Berto and certified crazy-talker Victor Ortiz, was postponed to June. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao still aren’t getting together, and there’s been what feels like a good deal more controversy over scores than heated fights.
Even in dirty dealings, though, we must find some charms. A studied, screw-it, too-cool cynicism is useful as one waits for something good to happen, but use it every day and you become a graying Jon Stewart: flinging your hands in every direction in response to all stimuli, and maintaining a following because there continue to be people who don’t remember that the time when you were allowed to merely point out a headline for a laugh passed after the late Clinton administration. And if you just get angry every time something bad happens, well, we need your indignation for Change to occur, but good luck keeping the fire going anywhere other than Facebook after baby number two comes along.
Your average sort of scandal was on display this past weekend, as Action Star Brandon Rios missed the lightweight limit and then did approximately zero to earn a win against the lesser-known and not very exciting Richard Abril. The favored fighter wins, the commission (Nevada, in this case) says “Oh, it wasn’t that bad,” the losing team protests, and presumably, nothing happens.
Appreciating boxing’s foibles as a higher and darker level of comedy requires cartoon villains and more surreal situations than a simple scoring screw-job, though. (Also, it helps to have a willingness to put aside the fact that these men (and sometimes women) are putting their bodies and lives on the line and getting screwed). One “Jackass” type example of such absurdity is last August’s fight in which Joseph Agbeko suffered about 700 balltaps–in that case incompetent referee Russell Mora did take a demotion to the 4-rounders for a while, but he was back on TV this winter.
Most of the Big Screw-Jobs lately have come from Texas. Texas is a pretty great place to hold a fight for promoters, who like making money. There’s plenty of big markets there, with lots of nice venues, and lots of rich folks, and it’s really close to Mexico, a country that still likes boxing enough to tune into big fights like they’re Super Bowl commercials. Texas also boasts the best (worst) characters in the sport of late, and the most Pythonesque endings.
Take the James Kirkland-Carlos Molina fight from March 25.
Through most of 10 rounds, Molina negated Kirkland’s power with lots of wrestling, which was boring, but referee Jon Schorle did nothing about it. Right before the bell sounded in round 10, Kirkland dropped Molina on a left to the chin. Molina stood up; Schorle gave the count; the bell had rung. Then Schorle decided he had to stop the fight, since according to the rules Molina’s cornerman coming through the ropes for a second when the count was still going, after the bell had rung, was grounds for disqualification. Schorle was forced to stop the fight, or so said the announcement.
Here’s the from-the-rules doubletalk:
‘As special and unique circumstances arise in the sport of boxing, not all of which can be anticipated and addressed explicitly in these Rules and Regulations, the President of the WBC, in consultation with the WBC Board of Governors, has full power and authority to interpret these Rules and Regulations, and to issue and apply such rulings as he shall in his
sole discretion deem to be in the best interests of boxing.’
In a just universe, the fans would get to see that fight finish. Can Kirkland finish him? Can Molina hang on? Instead, there was a stoppage on a technicality that wasn’t even properly enforced.
So we can complain (and you should), but that’s not a coping mechanism. My method for dealing with the clowns in the smoke-free backrooms is imagining them as something like Boss Hogg in “The Dukes of Hazzard:” hatching all sorts of plans to rob widows of their property and extending credit to carnies while mixing drinks out of beer mugs and smacking around Sheriff Rosco.
Someday (I do hope) boxing will find its Good Ole Boys who’ll do some serious harm to the way it works.
Not all was gloom in this first quarter of 2012. Juan Manuel Lopez and Orlando Salido put on a great fight in early March, with Salido earning another win with a 10th round stoppage.
The 9th round is the current frontrunner for Round of the Year:
And there’s good stuff a-coming! Floyd Mayweather took about the best fight sans Pacquiao he could, taking on Miguel Cotto on May 5th, which will again be a crazy sporting day what with the debauched Kentucky Derby and all manner of NBA and NHL playoff action. Some rich guy sometime needs to take the May First Saturday challenge and hit as much sporting action as he can, dropping out of helicopters to sit courtside and trackside and ringside like drivers who do the Indy 500-Coca Cola 600 double on Memorial Day weekend.
Until next week (maybe!), keep your dukes up.