Wladimir Klitschko: A Man Who Represented His Sport In Respectable Fashion
By: Sean Crose
And so Wladimir Klitschko, one of the longest reigning heavyweight champions in history, has decided to retire. Good for him. We should wish him all the best. He was, make no mistake about it, a credit to his sport. While Klitschko was never able to engross all of western society the way Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, Joe Lewis or Jack Dempsey had before him, he was able to show that a gentleman could also be a tough guy. That’s saying something – especially right now, at this point in boxing history. The fact that Klitschko is retiring in the leadup to the insanely hyped and sadly beloved Mayweather-McGregor matchup signifies, in a way, exactly where we are in the road.
While Klitschko believed a champion should represent his sport in respectable fashion, Mayweather and McGregor engage in gutter speak for the roar of the crowd. While Klitschko believed that practicing an incredibly violent sport didn’t mean you had to act like a narcissistic headcase outside of it, Mayweather and McGregor recently turned their seemingly endless press tour into a cross between a circus act and a bad LSD trip. Whatever his flaws may be, a parent might actually point to Klitschko as a source of inspiration. Anyone who wants their kid to act like Mayweather or McGregor needs a psych evaluation. Now, though, Klitschko is gone, leaving the fight world with a loud mouthed Irishman who acts unhinged and a gleeful American hedonist who looks forward to making some serious “easy money.”
Only there’s more to it than that.
There are, believe it or not, fighters out there who act like, you know, adults. Canelo Alvarez is one. His future opponent, Gennady Golovkin, is another, Shawn Porter certainly appears to be role model material. Last weekend’s big winner, Mikey Garcia, clearly treats his work, life and public image responsibly. There are others in boxing who could be on this list, as well. Count on it. They simply don’t get the attention Mayweather and McGregor do. And that’s partly understandable. For part of boxing is salesmanship. What boxing shouldn’t be, however, is bottom of the barrel, base entertainment. Sadly, that’s where some think it is at the moment – at the bottom of the barrel – thanks to two less than sportsmanlike characters and the legions who adore watching them.
The point of this piece isn’t to be Puritanical, however. It’s to point out the fact that fighters don’t have to behave in an antisocial manner in order to be successful. The truth is that Klitschko might have earned more fans had he been a bit more colorful – not idiotic, just more colorful. That wasn’t the man’s personality, though, and I’ve got to respect him for it. Better Klitschko, in my humble opinion, than the Pop Culture Event Of The Summer we’re heading towards. Is it August 27th yet?
Win, Lose, Or Draw, Kell Brook Deserves Respect
Win, Lose, Or Draw, Kell Brook Deserves Respect
By: Sean Crose
Lots of people are writing British welterweight Kell Brook off this weekend. American Errol Spence Jr, we’re told, is simply going to be too much for the man – too talented, too on the rise, too determined. And while I myself believe this to be true, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Brook were to pull off the upset, either. Brook, after all, is one of my favorite fighters to watch, a powerful tactician with the brains and skill who knows how to win. There’s something else about Brook that’s worth noting, though, and that’s the fact that he’s a true athlete. You know, the kind that is willing to challenge himself.
In a world of Mayweather-McGregor, it’s nice to see Brook move on from Gennady Golovkin, the middleweight terror, to Spence, the acclaimed wunderkind, in the course of a single fight. If only the talented Adonis Stevenson would show half as much ambition and confidence. That, really, is the appeal of Brook. Sure, he’s a good fighter, but, more importantly, he’s one who is clearly willing to put it all on the line over and over again. His agreeing to fight Brook after the Golovkin loss is akin to Danny Garcia facing Terence Crawford as his next opponent. It’s laudable stuff.
Brook seems to realize that boxing isn’t only a business, as we’ve been so frequently reminded over the years, but that it’s also a sport. Boxing’s new breed of fan, which loves things like Mayweather’s financially based decisions, might not think much of Brook’s career moves, but that’s exactly why the Englishman deserves credit from the rest of us. Anyone who follows boxing for what goes on in the ring rather than what goes on inside someone’s bank account has to like what he or she sees in the Sheffield native.
That’s why Brook should still be respected, even if he loses on Saturday, which I suspect he will. If Spence wins, as many believe, there will be people out there criticizing Brook for “stupidly” dropping weight to defend his crown against a young pit bull (after taking serious damage in his last fight, no less). Such criticism will be – for lack of a better word – bullshit. Who knows, though? Maybe it’s Spence who will be criticized after the fight for acting “stupidly.” People will always point the finger at someone, after all, and there’s no guarantee Brook won’t leave the ring on Saturday without his IBF title belt in tow.
Why is Terence Crawford Getting No love For His Next Fight?
Why is Terence Crawford Getting No love For His Next Fight?
By: Matthew N. Becher
We can all agree, Terence “Bud” Crawford (30-0 21KO) is one of the best fighters on the planet right now. He is a two division lineal champ, with impressive wins against the likes of Ricky Burns (in Scotland), Yuriorkis Gamboa (his first professional loss), Ray Beltran, Thomas Dulorme and Viktor Postol (also his first professional loss). Crawford is set to fight in the big room at the mecca of boxing, Madison Square Garden next weekend, May 20th. Unfortunately, nobody even realizes that is happening.
Seriously, the promotion for this fight is non-existent. The Ring Magazine, WBC &WBO Jr. welterweight champion. The guy who is arguably the best American fighter today, fighting on the biggest stage of his career and people have no idea this is even on the calendar. I live in New York, and I haven’t seen one poster, heard one radio ad, nothing. What is going on with Top Rank?
Could it be his lesser known opponent that is the problem? Maybe, but probably not. Crawford fought guys like Dulorme and Hank Lundy and those seemed to have gotten more press then this fight against Felix Diaz. Is Felix Diaz unknown, sure, but he is a very good fighter. Diaz is a 2x Olympian who won the gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics for his native Dominican Republic. He sports an impressive record of 19 wins with only 1 defeat (which was a majority decision to Lamont Peterson) and he sports victories over decent foes, such as Granados, Bracero, and Sammy Vasquez. I personally don’t expect Diaz to win, but I do expect him to come in and turn this fight into a brawl, make it ugly for Crawford.
One week before the fight, this writer checked ticket prices on a well-known secondary market site and saw that you can get a seat for as little as $17.68. That is in the lower bowl, 100 level, section 111. That is a seat that would have been $250 for March’s fight between GGG and Jacobs. $17.68!?!?!?!? That is an insane price for a chance to see an Olympic Gold Medalist take on a top 3 pound for pound fighter. The undercard even has the east coast debut of future American star and Silver Medalist Shakur Stevenson.
If anyone has the answer why Bud Crawford is getting no love, please let me know.
He is one of the sport’s most exciting fighters, he is a pleasure to watch. But for some reason, he is not getting the publicity that he needs and deserves.
Female Boxers in America Still Fight For Respect
Female Boxers in America Still Fight For Respect
By: Ron Scarfone
The photo for this article was originally published by Bain News Service at least a century ago. It depicts the Bennett Sisters who performed a kind of entertainment known as vaudeville. Vaudeville shows during this time period featured a variety of performers in one show such as singers, dancers, comedians, and magicians. Each act would be performed separately from the others. It was like The Muppet Show, but with human beings instead of Muppets. There were some opportunities for women to compete in sports, but it was largely frowned upon by society. Women who wanted to box had limited outlets available to them. As a result, women would box in exhibitions on the vaudeville circuit. Of course, women’s boxing has made progress over the last 100 years. However, female boxers have restrictions even today and women’s boxing is still often relegated to a sideshow status. In spite of the major sanctioning bodies’ involvement in women’s boxing, there are stark differences between male and female boxers in terms of pay, popularity, and participation in boxing events.
The paltry purses in women’s boxing are partially due to the amount of minutes and rounds that the female title fights are which are usually no more than two minutes per round and no more than ten rounds in total. WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman has publicly stated that the WBC will never allow more minutes and rounds in women’s boxing than the current standard. That does not stop the other sanctioning bodies from making the minutes and rounds equal to the men. If that were to happen, would the WBC keep their word? If the pay for women were to rise as a result of being scheduled to fight as long as the men, would the WBC still maintain its stance in their policy? The pay in women’s boxing is so poor that $5,000 is considered good for a female boxer in a world title fight and $3,000 is considered bad. It is a difference of just a couple of thousand dollars and yet fights are not being made because boxers or their managers are rejecting these low offers which is understandable.
The difference in pay between the men and women is also due to a prevailing perception that women’s boxing is not popular. For the most part, promoters do not want to take the financial risk that comes with having a women’s title fight scheduled on their fight cards. The vast majority of promoters do not have their events televised, so the revenue for these shows is derived from ticket sales, food and drink concessions, and possibly a few corporate sponsors. Some promotional companies have their own stable of boxers and their goal is to get them to become world champions. These promoters usually only have male boxers in their stable. They believe that there is no benefit to them spending their money on a female title fight, especially when neither of the boxers are in their stable. There are also matchmakers who have a negative view of women’s boxing and believe that it is in decline in spite of the progress that has been made in recent years.
There are some promoters who want women’s title fights on their cards, but cannot afford to have them due to the limitations of their budget. The lack of support from television networks is definitely a hindrance to more women’s title fights taking place in the United States. However, there are some mid-level promoters who have enough money to schedule a women’s title fight. Nevertheless, they do not want to devote that money in the budget for this because they feel that they have nothing to gain from it. It comes down to economics. If a show is not televised, the cost of a women’s title fight in the United States should be at least $5,000 for each boxer, so the total purse is $10,000. If they are not women who live locally, then the promoter has to pay for plane fare and hotel accommodations for the boxers and their cornermen. There are also extra fees that have to be paid: the belt fee, the sanctioning fee, and the officials (three judges and referee) also have to be paid extra for working in a title fight. The sanctioning body also has a supervisor of the title fight who must be paid a fee. Therefore, the total amount of money that a promoter would have to spend for a women’s world title fight is about $20,000 if both boxers do not live locally. Promoters tend to want boxers on their cards who have a local following which will help to sell more tickets because of increased interest locally.
The shows in which the matchmaker and promoter want competitive fights regardless of the outcome are the shows that are often the most entertaining. The other kinds of shows are run by promoters who do have money to spend, but they choose to spend it on what would benefit them the most. They direct their matchmaker to find suitable opponents for the boxers that are in their stable. The matchmaker makes an “A side” and a “B side.” The “A side” is usually reserved for boxers who have a contract with the promoter. These “A side” boxers could be legitimate contenders who are rated by the sanctioning bodies or they could be up and coming prospects. The “B side” boxers are usually journeymen with mediocre or losing records. These are the boxers who are expected to lose in order to pad the records of the boxers in the promoter’s stable in the hope that they will get more lucrative fights in the future such as a title shot and/or a fight on television. The “B side” boxers could live locally and therefore would save the promoter money by not having to pay for plane tickets and a hotel stay. However, the promoter may have no qualms about spending more money in order for the matchmaker to find the right opponent for his boxer.
In an event in August that was in Miami, Florida which was not televised, light heavyweight contender Yunieski Gonzalez won by TKO in the first round over Jackson Junior. Junior was rated about No. 100 in the world by BoxRec at the time. This was the main event. Junior was from Brazil, so the promoter had to pay for plane tickets and hotel accommodations for Junior and his cornermen for a fight that lasted within one round. Junior had a winning record, but has mostly lost since 2014. His recent wins came against boxers with losing records. Gonzalez knocked Junior down three times and the fight was stopped in the first round. At the same venue in Miami, Gonzalez was in the main event again about a week ago. His opponent was Maxwell Amponsah who was originally from Ghana, but now lives in New York. Amponsah had a rating of about No. 300 in the world by BoxRec which is a lot worse than Jackson Junior’s rating. Amponsah has a winning record himself, but most of his opponents had losing records. A win by knockout was expected for Gonzalez. Gonzalez again won by TKO in the first round. The majority of the “A side” boxers on the card were undefeated. The majority of the “B side” boxers had losing records. All of the “A side” boxers won.
The total possible time of a women’s world title fight is 20 minutes of boxing plus breaks between rounds, so it is about 30 minutes if it goes the distance. A promoter could instead have two men’s fights that are four rounds each which would also be about 30 minutes if they both go the distance. Comparing costs, the male boxers would get about $1,000, so pay for four male boxers in four-round fights equals $4,000. If they are local boxers, no plane fare or hotel accommodations have to be paid. Compare the cost of this to a women’s world title fight which would be $10,000 for two boxers. Also, extra fees would have to be paid for the officials, supervisor, and sanctioning body. This is why most promoters do not want to do it when they can have two four-round fights with male boxers which would involve less financial risk. Also, people in the audience for a club show usually just want to see boxing up close and maybe some knockouts, but are not expecting to see world-class boxers.
Whether it is fair or not, women’s boxing is always judged on every fight. If a men’s boxing match is boring, people do not say all of men’s boxing is boring. Women though are held to a higher standard and people can form their opinions on an entire sport based on one fight that they saw. Promoters schedule men’s fights usually based on the abilities of the boxers. Promoters are sometimes willing to promote a women’s world title fight, but there often has to be a hook involved and I do not mean that type of punch. Promoters could try to sell the fight as a rivalry between two nations such as one boxer from Puerto Rico and the other boxer from Mexico. It could be promoted as a continuation of a rivalry such as when Laila Ali and Jacqui Frazier-Lyde was billed as being Ali vs. Frazier IV which was in reference to the fact that they were daughters of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier respectively. Other fights could be publicized because of a genuine dislike for one another such as the recent fight between Heather Hardy and Shelly Vincent. Of course, the fact that both Hardy and Vincent were both undefeated contributed to the fight being televised. However, the coverage that they both received by the media because of their vocal vitriol was probably the main reason why. Until female boxers are televised based solely on their abilities as boxers, they will never truly have the same respect as the men.
Because of the lack of support from promoters and television networks, there are a lot of possible matchups that never happen. Female world-class boxers in America usually have to go to another country to get a title shot. Then, they have to deal with biased officials such as judges and even the referee who may be eager to deduct a point from the American for a perceived foul whether it was intentional or not. It doesn’t have to be this way, but strong advocates for women’s boxing are required in the current climate. If women’s boxing takes place in America and is televised in America, it is because of advocates. The female boxers themselves are advocates and some have voiced their displeasure about the inequities in compensation and opportunities compared to the men. However, the people and entities in power such as the promoters and television networks have to also be advocates in order for women’s boxing to flourish in America. It is well-known that Lou DiBella is an advocate and he helped get the Hardy vs. Vincent fight televised.
Shane Mosley is also an advocate for women’s boxing. Mosley formed his own promotional company called GoBox Promotions. Mosley was promoting a pay-per-view event in which he was fighting in the main event against Ricardo Mayorga. Mosley commented that the boxing world should show more respect to female boxers and he decided to have a women’s world title fight on his event. It was a unification bout of super bantamweight world champions: International Female Boxers Association (IFBA) champion Maureen Shea from New York versus International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion Yulihan Alejandra Luna Avila from Mexico. I believe that it was one of the best female boxing fights I have ever seen. After ten rounds, the judges ruled it a draw. It was very close, but Shea and Avila both felt that they clearly won after it was over. It was the first time that a female title fight was shown on pay-per-view in about a decade. Even though it was a draw and not a win for Shea, that fight probably earned her the most respect in her entire pro career. The fact that she performed well against a champion from one of the major sanctioning bodies was significant and it also gave more credibility to the IFBA. All of the sanctioning bodies solely for women’s boxing have faced increased competition because of the involvement of the major sanctioning bodies in women’s boxing which began about a decade ago. Bear in mind that the reason why this fight happened was because of Mosley’s support.
Women’s boxing in America does not have as much value compared to men’s boxing and also compared to women’s boxing in other countries such as Mexico and Germany. However, it has more potential than some people realize or are willing to admit. When the UFC was founded in 1993, did anyone think that the UFC would eventually be sold for four billion dollars this year? In 2001, the UFC was almost bankrupt when Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta bought it for two million dollars. They turned the business around by having rules and regulations which enabled it to get approval from the athletic commissions in each state.
Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise also sold to Disney in 2012 for four billion dollars. In the early 1970s, George Lucas was rejected by movie studios about his idea for a Star Wars movie. Even Disney rejected it at the time. The Walt Disney Company also bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009 for four billion dollars. Marvel filed for bankruptcy in 1996 and obviously turned it around before Disney purchased it at a very high price. Action Comics No. 1 which was the first appearance of Superman was worth about $20,000 in mint condition in 1986. A copy in mint condition sold for about three million dollars in 2014.
Opinions and values change with the times. There has been progress with women’s boxing lately. Female boxers have mentioned it, but still recognizing the fact that there is still a lot of room for improvement. The amount of minutes in each round and the total number of rounds could be made equal to the men which would help to increase their pay. Women could have more opportunities to be scheduled on fight cards. Women’s boxing could be televised more often. When I look at that old photo of the Bennett Sisters from about 100 years ago, I think of how far women’s boxing has come. I also think of, even after 100 years, how far women’s boxing still has to go.
Photo of Bennett Sisters created by Bain News Service between circa 1910-1915. Call number LC-B2- 2469-6 from Library of Congress, Bain Collection.
Triple G Gets No Respect
Triple G Gets No Respect
By: Ronald Neal Goldman
You would think that with Gennady Golovkin’s reputation as judge, jury and executioner, that, is never having to rely on the outcome of a fight in the hands of the judges, (whether they be biased, inexperienced, or simply atrociously deficient at assessing a boxing match) a benefit of being the most consistently KO artist in the game, he would deserve more respect. You would also be wrong, on a variety of levels, the least of which is the logistically sparse availability of actual legitimate middleweight contenders.
While the Canelo Alvarez/ Golovkin matchup would be the fight most fans would gladly offer their first born to see, for the boxing purist, however, it is a no win situation for the Kazakh counter-punching phenomenon. Even if Canelo put aside his allegiance to the Golden Boy hierarchy,–which he would not- or go rogue by perpetuating the machismo Mexican heritage by fighting anyone at anytime- which he probably would – thereby taking the dead man walking path, so what? Instead, Saul chose the Liam Smith path of least resistance, prudent, albeit competitively challenged. A win over Canelo, (Mexico’s superstar would have a better shot as Trump’s running mate than beating Golovkin) would just mean that Golovkin beat, (finesse prevents me from employing a more suitable verb), a 155 pound contender, not exactly a middleweight. Should Gennady move up to 160 or 168, with the exception of Carl Froch – retired- and Andre Ward, training for his warmup fight against Alexander Brand in preparation for the Kovalev showdown, there are no “it” fighters at 160 or 168 that would finally and deservedly trumpet GGG into fiscal and fisticuff stardom. The PPV mega dollars simply wont be there if he goes north.
In resume vernacular, Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin is overqualified. While James DeGale and Badou Jack are excitingly competent fighters in their divisions, so were Daniel Geale and David Lemeaux; need I say more? Newest on the triple G pot of gold sweepstakes are Chris Eubank Jr. and Kel Brook Of formidable lineage Chris would make for an interesting challenge, no more no less. More intriguing, however, is Kell Brook. I’m not sure whether it’s the proverbial pissing contest between Britain’s Amir Kahn and Kell Brook over who made the more imprudent decision of their next opponents, or sheer absence of cerebral reasoning, now that Brook ( two, not one, weight classes above his own) has s signed on to challenge Golovkin in September. Either way, Genaddy loses when he wins.
Having the highest knockout percentage in middleweight history, and the uncanny skill of minimizing the area inside the squared circle as he deceptively stalks an opponent, it is near impossible to architect a plan that would nullify the unbeaten middleweight’s skills, a concept not lost on many would-be challengers, especially once his power is felt, then, for however long it takes, the challenger’s mode goes from plan A to survival. With almost all of the major Middleweight belts in Golovkin’s possession and the legions of fans flourishing by the day, it is the respect accorded Floyd, Oscar and Roy that is within his grasp yet, like Rodney Dangerfeld doesn’t get any.
Ronald Neal Goldman
professor of English
Touro College and University System
Respecting the Sport
Respecting the Sport
By: Matthew N. Becher
Boxing is a sport based on respect. It is something that you need to earn. Either by fighting the toughest opponents available, or simply by garnering it with your punching ability while in the ring. Without respect you will not get far in the sport. Opponents will walk you down, feeling no need to respect your power and fans will tear you apart for not fighting, who they deem, the best possible opponent.
Last week in Las Vegas, Amir Khan skipped two weight classes to take on the lineal Middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. The fight went as almost everyone expected. It may have lasted a few rounds longer, but in the end, Canelo demolished Khan. A thunderous shot that completely melted Khan into the canvas. Thankfully Khan was alright, and in the end, it seemed that in defeat he gained just as much respect as though he had won. This seemed a little off. Social media was a blaze in praising Khan for taking on the bigger opponent, or standing toe to toe with Canelo for as long as he did. Khan lost. The fact of the matter is he lost pretty badly. Khan was hit with such force that he was completely unconscious on his feet, before crashing to the canvas. Is this what earns respect? Did Khan take this fight, truly believing that he could beat a rehydrated Canelo? Or did Khan take this fight because he could walk away with an estimated $6-13 million dollar purse regardless of the outcome?
A lot of fighters take on opponents that they surely cannot beat, and they get relegated to “Bums” or “nobodies” by the fans and Media. A few weeks prior, Dominic Wade, an undefeated middleweight contender took on and lost to Unified Champion Gennady Golovkin. Wade was unheard of and unofficially deemed the “tomato can” that somehow got in the ring with GGG. Wade had no shot at winning, but he did have a one hundred percent guarantee to walk out of that ring with a check for half a million dollars. The largest purse that he has ever seen in his life. Nobody rained down respect when it came to Dominic Wade, or for Golovkin for that matter.
Khan is a good fighter with a chin that does not hold up to solid shots. He was knocked out two times prior to Saturday night, both by men that weighed 140-150 lbs. What did we all think would happen when a 25 year old, prime, middleweight champion connected? Should we even be respecting Canelo’s power? Wouldn’t have any top 10 middleweight have been able to put down a welterweight with one shot?
In 2014, a little know fighter from Pittsburgh named Rod Salka was positioned to fight Danny Garcia in the main event at the Barclays center. Salka was a career jr. lightweight, but for a six figure pay day he was more than willing to go up and face an undefeated World Champion at Jr. Welterweight. Salka was nearly decapitated by Garcia and has since been the butt of many a boxing joke. Same for Garcia who has been dubbed the “Cherry Picker” ever since. What’s the difference between these two fights?
Garcia and Canelo both did what everyone expected them to do as the superior, bigger men. Except Garcia is seen as a “ducker” and Canelo as a big puncher who is at the top of the sports revenue stream. Khan and Salka, were both guys that took more money than they have ever made before in stepping up in weight. Though Khans’ future looks very bright, with multiple options available.
Boxing has weight classes for a reason. This is the reason! Jr. Welterweight champions shouldn’t be looking to strictly jump up two weight classes and be expected to compete with top middleweights. It’s not about trying to get “respect” from the sport, it is a money grab. Khan made a lot of it on Saturday, he paid a price to get it, but he will be ok, and drop back down to 147 where he may be able to continue his career.
Let’s not get it confused. Anyone who steps in the ring and puts their lives on the line, because that is what every single professional boxer is doing, should deserve our respect for that. When you go in with no intentions or chance of actually winning, then don’t try and think that we do not see what you are doing. It’s disrespectful to all of us.