By Ivan G. Goldman
Dear Kirk Jackson,
With all due respect, allow me to direct your attention to your recent column on this site titled “Showtime is setting the standard for boxing commentary.” Your applause was so deafening I feared you might hurt yourself. I entreat you to step back and take a more thorough look. Breathe.
Certainly there are knowledgeable, articulate guys on the Showtime team such as Paulie Malignaggi, Al Bernstein and Steve Farhood (though Farhood is mostly confined to ShoBox, the network’s bastard child). But the team also includes, for example, Mauro Ranallo, who came to the sweet science via his work as a shill for cage fighting. Do you really take this guy seriously? This tautly strung, jumping jack, skippy, screamy caricature of the hyper-energized radio barkers who do promo spots for stock car races? “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!” Ranallo sounds always like his head is set to explode. He acts like there’s a pedal-to-the-metal, hollering high-grade crisis every moment he’s on. He pretends or possibly even believes that everything he sees is ultra-dramatic, that its importance can’t be overemphasized. It’s what got him to the dance and now he’s stuck with it. But we don’t have to be stuck with him. Anyway, enough about that clown.
Your piece praising Showtime and telling us HBO is dogshit comes on the heels of your other piece titled “Op Ed: There is No Mandate for Floyd Mayweather to Fight Manny Pacquiao,” a commentary that treats Mayweather’s babbling failed logic – stuff even his most fanatical fans don’t take seriously — as though it’s straight out of Aristotle’s “Metaphysics.” So what we’ve got here are back-to-back pieces praising Mayweather and Showtime, which are basically the same entity. That’s what we call overkill.
Although the piece on Floyd was more than a bit curious, I decided to let it pass. But after that sugary sweet, embarrassingly passionate flattery of his network, I concluded I’d step in now before you follow up with something even more extreme, perhaps titled “Join Me in Worshiping Al Haymon.” If that is in fact the working title of your next commentary I apologize for inadvertently spilling it in advance.
But about that Floyd piece — I found the word “mandate” a rather puzzling word choice as an excuse for Mayweather to duck the man he clearly believes has the best chance to beat him. It’s defined as “an authoritative command or instruction.” You wrote that because the “mandate” circumstance was absent, there’s therefore no need for the match.
You should know that there’s no mandate authority in the anarchic world of boxing. Only the poor misguided schlemiels who treat the alphabet bandits as though they’re on the level think there is such an authority. But I feel compelled to ask why a boxing writer would not want to see a match that the whole world wants to see, a match that would shine a great light on the sport and create a monster event that would rival the super bowl. Alas, you contend, “Pacquiao hasn’t done anything to earn a fight with (Floyd).” Is that right? Nothing? Zilch?
What about knocking out Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton and beating up Marga-cheato so badly that we actually felt sorry for him? What about reducing Shane Mosley to an apologetic, fawning, gloves-touching lackey? What about … You know what? I’m not even going to play this game. You’re treating a great fighter as though he were submitting an application to work the 4 pm shift at Taco Bell.
In the history of boxing, superstars in the same weight division always get it on. They’d be crazy not to. In that sense, the “mandate” is in place. You’re arguing that if the American League championship team had a relatively bad year then there’s no reason for the World Series to be played at all. After all, the National League champs are just too good.
Baseball, like prizefighting, is an entertainment, get it? These days movie stars and sports stars are represented by the same big talent agencies. Sure, Mayweather would rightfully be an 11-3 favorite over Pacquiao, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t fight. Because it would be one hell of a fight. And it would give a Mayweather a chance to etch his legacy on a monument. He must take this chance. And it’s nuts for boxing writers to provide him cover for his reluctance. This match would be so big we might see side bets on whether this time Ranallo’s head would in fact explode. And I want in on that action.
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