All Bark and No Bite
By Jason Petock, DoghouseBoxing (Feb 15, 2010)  
Talk is cheap, or so they say. With boxing often being likened to a short jump off a high pier, or the discipline literally hanging by a thread, this adage couldn't be any closer to the truth in terms of analysis these days. For as many individuals that support and still love the sport, there are just as many naysayers and defeatists to round out the mix. Once a sport where men fought often and took on all challengers, boxing has become more of a white collar business these days, where the real fights happen behind closed doors during negotiations and fall outs over who gets more money and who won't fight unless it happens here or there. No longer exists the throwback fighter who pours his heart out in every battle, men like this are of the past, in both memory and existence. Those who fight like that have either passed on to a greater divide, or lived so long ago that their accomplishments are nothing more than gray images or wives tales to the common boxing fan today. “Super fights” tend to become nothing more but just that, in terms that they are so “super” that their actuality of coming to fruition is nothing more than a myth, like pipe dreams and fairy tales. It appears that many involved in the sport of boxing have forgotten about honor, pride, and integrity. Capitalism, corruption, and greed have thrown the biggest blow that any boxer has ever taken in their career, and all of us have gotten knocked out on our asses because of it.

Bear in mind that it is far easier to distinguish the problem than find an adequate solution. Those who have had boxing'sbetter interests at heart, and aren't just involved to turn a buck, have been pointing out the deficiencies for years now. Piss poor decisions by in-pocket judges, biased referees, lack of mandatory defenses, blood sucking promoters and managers, and a general lull that has put the sport and it's fans to sleep for the past 10-15 years now are just the tip of the iceberg as faras pointing out what's gone wrong. Yet on the flip side of that extremely tarnished coin there are a lot of positive and hopefulthings that still make up the composite known as the “Sweet Science”. And it is still sweet Ladies and Gentlemen, it's justbeen tarnished with a few fillers and bad ingredients over the years. It is our job to get boxing back to it's original recipe, tobring back that positive flavor we all remember, the one that was so delicious all those years ago. The one that fans would eat up, licking the plate clean and begging for more, even when their pallets were so filled to the brim with exciting fights, defending Champions, and cards that kept them on the edges of their seats, all the while throwing mock punches in the air asthey watched the fights. Those are the essentials that have been long removed from the sport.

So how do we return to a time and place, or at the very least a feel and regard that has escaped all of us when speaking about boxing? Well, for one you eliminate Pay-Per-View. While this may sound like a drastic measure and not too appealing to those who profit considerably from the bankroll made off of PPV, let's be realistic for a moment. The majority of the PPV cards that fans have been exposed to have been horrible, not to mention extremely costly. Boxing doesn't have the organization or monopolized control that UFC has, an intelligent blueprint actually that seemed to be lifted from the WWE business plan. So while we cannot implement such a plan, in terms of marketing and a selling point, we can remove PPV from our ledger and return boxing to regular television, not just network television such as HBO and SHOWTIME. ESPN has still maintained a fair amount of bouts on its network, but there still needs to be much more implementation of boxing across the spectrum. It's not a far fetched or impossible ideal either.

Next, we demand, not ask for, but demand a regulated commission to oversee the sport. This proposed commission would be comprised of trustworthy individuals who have been involved in the sport, mainly former fighters, current fighters, cut men, referees, and trainers. Promoters and managers would not be on any panel, or have any say in the rulings or judgments passed through the commission. Their job would stay the same in terms of organizing fights, setting venues, and managing fighters. What would be different however is that there would be a stricter equality and regulation enforced in regard to the treatment of fighters, establishing a newer era of organization and restructuring of boxing from the inside out. This commission would not be federal or mandated by the government, and would have a panel which would setup fights and tournaments to determine one true Champion in every division, as it should be.

And finally, and most importantly, make fighters fight one another. Rather than trying to sell everyone on continual mismatches, why not forced individuals to face one another in the ring? This isn't to say that boxers should fight 20-30 fights a year, we wouldn't want a return to the way it used to be, or would we? But it is to say that when mismatches become a common occurrence and fighters records are padded and built up on the backs of people we expect them to beat, that becomes unfair to not only the fan, but who really matters, and that is the fighters themselves.

Boxing has had its own fair share of lumps over time and the current state of affairs is no different. If there has been one thing that all of us have learned as die-hard boxing fans is that the discipline itself will not waiver or falter, even though the participants may at times. Multiple title defenses and continuous ring activity have become all but forgotten, as pugilists do their ducking and weaving at board tables and in meeting rooms instead. The gross majority of fighters have established themselves as big dogs with a ferocious bark but not much else to back up their yelping. Instead, we are all left with a whole lot of noise and hype. Their bark truly is far worse than their bite these days. The saddest element of this equation is that there are actually fighters out there, good fighters, who want a chance and crack at the big time but because they don't have the right connections or know the right people they often get passed by and overlooked. Meanwhile, big mouths make all the money as they fight no one and spend more time shuffling papers than lacing up the gloves, as their bank accounts grow to match their egos and wallets. Can anyone tell me what is wrong with this picture?

Jason at:

© Copyright / All Rights reserved: Doghouse Boxing 1998-2010