The Media vs. Pugilism
By Rob Scott (August 27, 2005) 
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Opinions are like…holes, everybody has one. In boxing, some opinions leave such a stench that many seem as if they are talking directly from their backside. Other opinions have served as eye openers to the viewers whose vision may have been a little blurred. Either way, this is a sport where the views fly like bats in a cave – flying in volume in every direction imaginable.

People will tell you in a split second what’s bad in and around the sport of boxing. Some of these voices are easily tossed aside as the rants of unknowledgeable ones who don’t have a clue, while other voices are perceived by most as the Gospel. You will find opinions that are backed by sincerity and truth, while others have hypocrisy and lie written all over them. This is indeed the sport of boxing.

Inside the ring this sport isn’t one that you play, it’s more of what you do. Unfortunately, outside the squared circle games like ‘point-the-finger’ and ‘the blame game’ are ones that are played 24/7. These are games very similar to in-ring battles in the sense where participants try to avoid blows, albeit verbal, while dishing out some of their own shots. Everyone seems to get blamed for something; and it seems that this is how this world works, no one wants to take responsibility. Fighters blame trainers after a loss; managers and promoters throw the blame at each other when a fighter isn’t happy with his purse; these are just a couple of the many examples of the well played games.

With boxing insiders speaking ill of one another every chance they get, what of the media? Their views, while many times ill-informed, have staggered the sport as boxing continuously takes it on the chin. The media has placed a stranglehold on boxing and it’s sapping its strength by continually writing and showing story-after-story of the negatives of the sport – if they even cover boxing at all.

Two angles have been troublesome to me, the first being the hypocrisy of most outlets. Let’s take sanctioning bodies like the IBF, WBC and WBA, who are continuously depicted as plagues by outlets like HBO and Showtime, but are acknowledged by these same networks when it is suited for their needs. This is all coming from networks who themselves have been accused of being, in essence, promoters and want-to-be sanctioning bodies – just without the licenses.

Even if imperfection exist, outlets like HBO and Ring magazine won’t give credit where credit is due. When the IBF placed Roman Karmazin as their mandatory for then champion Kassim Ouma, Karmazin wasn’t even in the Ring magazine top ten. Now Karmazin is the champ and the man to beat. HBO is being given credit for bringing forth next months Vladimir Klitschko vs. Sam Peters heavyweight clash, but it was the IBF who actually ordered that fight – and it is one that should give a much needed shot in the arm of the division.  

Journalists of all sorts, whether television, newspapers, internet, etc. are no different in a sense, where each outlet has someone who will use his or her forum to sway the thoughts on promoters, fighters and organizations alike. They act as mad scientists using the pen, the mic and keyboards like mind-altering tools. The ‘if I love them – then I’ll make everybody love them, and if I hate them – then I’ll make everybody hate them’ mentality is, in my eye, so blatant at times. Both commentators and writers will say, for instance, how one promoter is as crooked as they come and deem another promoter an angel; even though the so-called good promoter has the same imperfections – if not more.

Let’s take Don King; whereas one may feel he is the Devil himself, many are fooled into thinking that other promoters have wings on their backs and haloes above their heads solely because of what media outlets say. On a scale that measures negativity you would think King’s weight is that of an anvil while other promoters are that of a feather.  If you believe that is the case, then I have a Schwinn bicycle that I want to sell you for the price of a Harley Davidson.

Sensationalism to get viewers/buyers is definitely nothing new; the headlines grab your attention, but the bold letters usually aren’t always beautiful. ‘Floyd Mayweather accused of hitting his child’s mother’; these sensationalized words definitely put him in a bad light, but the subsequent follow-up columns that read ‘Floyd Mayweather acquitted of hitting his child’s mother’ were words that were in small print in many outlets. Even still, the damage was already done. This is the boxing world we live in; for that matter, this is just the world in which we live in.

Journalists are convinced that these are the stories that viewers/readers want to hear and see. There may be some truth to that notion, but it’s not the whole truth. It’s definitely not a case of feeding the hungry, because if that were indeed the case, one would eat what you feed them – good or bad.

The other angle that bothers me is the result that has come about from boxing’s bad press. For the most part, people have lost their appetite for this pastime mostly because what is being fed to them is garbage. This is why boxing coverage is almost non-existent in the mainstream outlets; stories like the twenty-year chronicle of Mike Tyson seem to be the only ones that have entered those pages and channels. Stories like the Tyson tales have dominated the mainstream headlines so much, it’s become second nature for readers to equate those varied stories more with boxing – totally overshadowing the other positive participants and storylines that are indeed there. The backlash of the infamous Tyson/Holyfield ear bite pay-per-view of ’97 still places a damper on viewers from purchasing fights like they could, would and should. Hopefully fights like the upcoming Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo rematch will get the buyers that it definitely deserves.

Let’s face it, HBO and certain people may try to use someone like a Senator John McCain as a rifle to shoot down organizations and certain boxing people, but in the end, they are only shooting themselves and the sport as a whole in the foot. Boxing is walking with a limp just for that reason. They may feel they will be the last ones standing, but the truth is the whole boxing empire would stand to fall. Like Ripley, you can believe it or not.

I personally don’t believe the sport will ever die, but there is a truth in the question, ‘What is the use of living, if you are disabled?’ Media, tell the good of the sport as well as the bad. If not, we may just only be able to tell of a sport that once existed.
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