by Charles Jay
Sometimes fans have no idea when the fix is in.
When I used to do commentary on fights – admittedly affairs that were shown mostly in third-world markets – one of my assignments took me to a western state (I’m not saying where), where two preliminary fighters (I’m not saying who) were engaged in a full-blown, six-round brawl. One fighter would land a flurry of punches on the other, backing the opponent into the ropes; then the other guy would battle back and have the other guy in trouble, and this furious give-and-take went on and on and on.
Having spent quite a bit of time making matches, some instinct about these things kicked in, and I noticed something after a while; it was starting to resemble a wrestling match in terms of the “drama” that was unfolding. I also knew a little about the background of the two combatants, but it did finally occur to me that the fight was an outright phony, choreographed with a certain amount of care so as to be highly-entertaining for those who were unsuspecting.
My broadcast partner was calling it as if it was an Ali-Frazier fight. In the midst of that I calmly wrote the word “Fix” on a piece of paper and placed it in front of him. It stopped him dead in the middle of a sentence. He turned to me and gave an astonished look. I nodded back in affirmation.
Sure enough, when I later got a chance to cross-reference these guys under their various ring aliases through the Fight Fax Record Book (this was pre-internet), I found that they had fought each other a number of times, kind of like a traveling road show.
But hey, it sure looked great.
Did last Saturday’s Kimbo Slice-Brian Green fight take us back to similar “Wild Wild West” days?
I have seen quite a bit of discussion on the Boxing Insider site and elsewhere regarding this fight, with the focus on whether it was a fix. People obviously care about this because Kimbo (real name: Kevin Ferguson) was involved. Green looked lively for almost the entire four rounds, and apparently he was ahead on the scorecards (something not confirmed) when he took an uppercut, and reacted (some say over-reacted) to it by dropping to the canvas and staying there for the full ten count with just three seconds to go in the fight.
The big question (once again, for those who care) is whether this was a “fixed” fight, or more to the point, whether Green took a dive.
Could the scenario where Green had a lead and landed a number of clean punches against Kimbo have been part of a general plan? Well, I couldn’t say whether these two were as artful as the aforementioned, unnamed combatants in my opening. I doubt it. I believe that’s the kind of thing that might take some practice. If this was a choreographed job, it was one of the best anyone could ever see.
In the final round, Green looked out of gas and ready to go down from anything solid. So did Kimbo, for that matter. If that was an act, it was a good act. Yes, I agree that Green’s reaction to Kimbo’s final uppercut seemed a bit exaggerated, and it came just in time for him to be counted out with three seconds left in the fight (according to the Unified Rules of the Association of Boxing Commissions, a fighter can’t be saved by the bell in ANY round). Therefore, his demise seemed opportune, to say the least. As a result, the vast majority of people, and this would include many writers and commentators, are calling it a dive.
For the most part, the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, covering the fight in its hometown, has played it straight. And there was this amusing quote that I am trying not to read too much into, where Green says, “I told Kimbo at the end of the first round, ‘man, I want an autograph. And he said to me, ‘you got it dude.”
A pertinent question might be that if Green was going to take a dive, why wait so long? Isn’t the 2:57 mark of the fourth and final round cutting things a little close? Do you think he just lost track of time? I’m not sure about that. If I were constructing this plan ahead of time, I might have built in an ending that didn’t almost give me a heart attack.
Does it look fishy? Yeah. I don’t know if I would come out and make a statement that the fight was a dive, but I can tell you that those who are making those statements for news agencies (i.e., blogs, newspapers, websites of any repute) should be a little careful. I’m not sure they realize that they would be accusing Brian Green of a federal offense. Among other things, it falls under the category of something called “Sports Bribery” and carries a jail sentence. I’ve only seen it prosecuted once during my tenure in boxing, and that was in the case of an August 2000 fight between heavyweights Richie Melito and Thomas Williams (a story I originally broke), where Williams was ultimately found guilty.
Kimbo may have been, or may yet become, involved in some questionable fights. Anyone who saw his YouTube videos could come to that assumption, I suppose. But based on what I’ve seen, I can’t come to a definite conclusion about this last one.