I Used to Love Her: Boxing Continues to Disappoint
Hip Hop enthusiasts may recognize the first portion of the title from the career-defining 1994 song by Common (Sense). In “I Used To Love Her,” a song from his Resurrection album, Common describes a deeply-rooted passion for a metaphorical girl, ‘Hip-Hop’. Without breaking down the entire track, Common goes on to explain how even though the ‘girl’ has endured her down periods, he continues loving her just the same. Well, boxing has been an absolute love, passion, and obsession of mine since I was a young child watching a very young Mike Tyson rip his way throughout the Heavyweight Division during the 1980′s.
Although ‘Iron Mike’ was a childhood hero, I had plenty of historical guidance provided by my older relatives. Shout-out to Uncle Rob and Uncle Sonny for making sure I watched what have become the ‘grainiest’ tapes in the history of VHS of Ali vs. Norton/Frazier/Forman and most of the great fights of the 1960′s and 70′s. As a child, I watched Hagler/Hearns, Hagler/Duran, and Hagler/Leonard all live. Notice a trend? Obviously, Marvelous Marvin Hagler was a favorite of mine as well. I can tell you how disgusted I was when Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker was robbed in a fight against an absolute legend in Julio Cesar Chavez, just as I can tell you where I was the moment I watched a deranged Mike Tyson bite half a man’s ear off…and then go back for seconds.
Point is, I’ve been through plenty of ups and downs with professional boxing. No need to bring up the night Richard Steele stopped that Chavez/Taylor fight (catch that?), as I’m sure each of you (dwindling number of steadfast boxing fans) can likely provide an additional half-dozen fights with highly questionable rulings from the judges. In a sport with anywhere from a few hundred thousand to upwards of 100 million dollars being generated on a single sporting event, quite frankly, you’re bound to have a few nights where it seems as the big money long-shot is ‘gifted’ a decision.
Tonight, was no exception to that rule, as by all accounts (outside of the actual judges) Manny Pacquiao was the victim of a blatant robbery as his 15-fight winning streak was brought to an end at the hands of Timothy Bradley, and possibly more significantly, at the hands of two of the three judges. While Bradley certainly fought courageously, and seemed willing to stand toe-to-toe with “Pac-Man” (as his legions of adoring fans call him) at times, even the most casual of viewers should have been able to determine Pacquiao clearly controlled a majority of the fight. For some perspective, I was one of those individuals that not only believed Bradley could win the fight, I predicted that he would.
So, who’s to take the blame, you ask?
Although it shouldn’t tie into the outcome of a fight, could the judges have been disappointed with Pacquiao for delaying the start of the bout so that he could watch his beloved Boston Celtics go down in defeat at the hands of the Miami Heat in their Game 7 (ECF) showdown? Although I fully agree with HBO Boxing analyst and legendary trainer Emmanuel Steward in his assessment of Pacquiao’s delay being “unprofessional“, I would hope that wouldn’t enter into the minds of Duane Ford and C.J. Ross. Both ringside judges scored the 12-round title-bout (Pacquiao’s 147-pound belt) 115-113 in favor of the (still) undefeated challenger turned champion, Timothy Bradley (29-0). Jerry Roth, for the record, was the bout’s lone judge to score the fight 115-113 in favor of Pacquiao. For what it’s worth, the Associated Press had the bout scored at 117-111 in favor of Pacquiao. Most unbiased viewers would likely have a similar score. As a Bradley supporter, I must admit to having the bout at somewhere near the AP, and in favor of the “Pac-Man“.
Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank (most powerful boxing promoter), and coincidentally the promoter of both fighters in tonight’s bout, offered the most inflammatory quote of the night when he said:
“I’m going to make a lot of money on the rematch, but this is outrageous.“
Yes, Mr. Arum, this IS outrageous, and YES, you sure will make a lot of money on any potential rematch. I’ll let the conspiracy theorists have fun with that one, but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least point out the fact that during HBO’s 24/7, Bradley had been mentioning “November 10th” as the future rematch opportunity (once he defeated Pacquiao), and I found it that much more difficult to stomach when the date was immediately thrown out following the fight. I don’t care if there are no smoking guns, after anxiously waiting to devour this fight for months, I was left feeling “sick and dyspeptic” (HBO‘s The Wire).
Perhaps, the most transparent quote came from Bradley, himself. “I’ll have to go back home, watch the tapes, and see if I won the fight.” While Bradley should have absolutely no shame in the ‘fight’ he put up, it seemed and sounded completely evident that even he had reservations with the decision. As confident as he was pre-fight, lasting 12 rounds with the ever-aggressive Pacquiao will have that impact upon even the most head-strong of fighters.
Although I mentioned the unprofessional ‘feeling’ of the pre-fight delay, no one can ever question Manny Pacquiao’s poise after such a mind-numbing $65 (Pay-Per-View cost) bamboozlement. Even immediately following the defeat, Pacquiao was gracious and humble. “I did my best, I guess my best wasn’t good enough.” Grace or not, the ever-confident Pacquiao (54-4-2) was vehement when pressed further by HBO/ESPNLA 710AM’s Max Kellerman about whether he felt as though he was victorious, and he should have been.
Much like the theme from the aforementioned song, my love for boxing will remain. Unfortunately, similar to a shell-shocked and jilted lover, I’m simply left with the feeling of being cheated. I believe, I understand just how Manny Pacquiao must feel.
*As this is my first boxing article since each of their unfortunate deaths, allow me to extend a heartfelt “Rest in Peace” to Bert Sugar (1937-2012), and Johnny Tapia (1967-2012). Your contributions to the world of Boxing will forever remain in history.
Jabari A. Davis
@RealTalkOnSprts on Twitter
Spur battle back, defeat Thunder 101-98
Can’t say that I’m surprised by the result. The Ginobili/Harden match-up was as special as advertised. Ginobili, when healthy, has been the best 6th man over the last decade. Harden, if he remains a member of the Thunder, is well on his way to staking a claim towards the next 10 years. Although he scored well, as OKC’s best play-maker, Harden will have to find more productivity than his Game 1 (4 turnovers > 1 assist) output. Harden wasn’t alone, as Russell Westbrook will also need to be more efficient than his 17 points on 21 shots (5 assists > 4 turnovers) is the visiting Thunder stand a chance of stealing a road victory in Game 2.
The Celtics clawed and scrapped their way to a 46-46 (tie) at halftime, but the Heat were predictably able to pull away in the second half on Monday. When LeBron James and Dwyane Wade weren’t pacing the action (32 pts, 22 pts respectively), the Heat were receiving timely contributions from their role players, and not a moment too soon for Heat fans. Rondo/Garnett provided decent numbers, but this series won’t go beyond 5 games if the Celtics only get 18 points and 5 assists on 6/25 fga’s by Pierce and Allen. Not pointing the finger, as the Celtics are a banged up group coming off a 7-game series with the Sixers. Just the same, with the Heat eying the Finals, the Celts had better make some adjustments and attempt to capture lightning in a bottle with positive contributions from all key members. Trouble is, as battle-tested as the Celtics are, being able to muster up enough of a collective effort for 4 full quarters may be asking a bit much (at this point), let alone 4 full games.
Rest in Peace, ‘Mi Vida Loca‘. Johnny Tapia, a 5-time champion known best for his tumultuous, career-long battle with depression and cocaine addiction, was found at his New Mexico home on Sunday night. Tapia (45) was a crowd-favorite as much due to his “never say quit” personality outside the ring as inside. No foul play is suspected. Tapia is survived by his wife, Theresa, and their two children.
Unfortunately, upon hearing the news of Paul Williams’ Atlanta-area motorcycle accident that left him (reportedly) paralyzed from the waist down, I was not surprised. I say, not surprised…not because I predicted or anticipated anything of this nature, but because if you’ve been following the path of Williams’ career, then at least part of you nodded your head with a ‘knowing’ resignation once the news flashed across the sports world. Maybe, we’re all conditioned to simply ‘expect’ negative outcomes of the lives of men/women that make their living(s) in such a barbaric and carnal manner? I can’t even begin to explain it, but the memory of Diego Corrales, who died 5 years ago (this month) in an eerily-similar motorcycle accident in Las Vegas, hangs heavy on the heart of boxing fans mourning the news of Williams’ unfortunate accident.
“Convicted felon”, (by his own admission) Barry Bonds, is reportedly seeking employment within MLB. Rumor has it, he’s been in contact with the San Francisco Giants front office about a potential position within the organization. Bonds, quick to remind you he was convicted of ‘Obstruction of Justice’ (rather than actually taking steroids), removed himself from the spotlight shortly after breaking Hank Aaron‘s MLB home run record in 2007.
Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley was arrested for the second time in less than two months, on Sunday. The 2nd-year standout was taken into custody after a brief attempt to elude police following an attempted traffic stop. According to reports, the defensive tackle’s Cadillac Escalade reached speeds over 100 miles per hour during brief the chase, but Fairley was taken into custody without incident…once he decided to stop.
Jabari A. Davis
@RealTalkOnSprts on Twitter
We’ve all gone back and forth over this ever-lasting debate over what fighter would emerge from what would undoubtedly be an incredible fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquaio. I’m not interested in debating who is ducking whom, or any of the ‘often entertaining’ (sometimes tireless) war of words between Bob Arum (Top Rank Promotions) and Money May (Mayweather’s ‘all-world’ self-promotion alter-ego). Ken Herschman, HBO President, addressed a bit of reality (hopefully) Mayweather/Pacquiao have come to understand, when he told the AP this fight: “has a sell-by date ” of later this year and becomes “less and less relevant” the longer the public has to wait.
You may remember, Mayweather recently publicly challenged Manny via Twitter (a bit telling of where we are as a society, but I digress…): ”Manny Pacquiao I’m calling you out let’s fight May 5th and give the world what they want to see,” ”My Jail Sentence was pushed back because the date was locked in. Step up Punk.”
Pacquaio has since responded, as has Arum (shocking, I know)…and the two fighters even had an extended phone conversation when Floyd placed a call to the Philippines. Following the call, Manny even made a point to announce he would let Arum know “the Mayweather fight should be next.” Just when it looked as though there may be a glimmer of hope for the ‘proposed’ May 5, 2012 match-up, Arum announces 3 potential opponents for the Pac Man, and none of them have a surname or ‘Mayweather’. As a longtime boxing fan, I’m sick an tired of the charade that has become the sport of professional Boxing. I don’t care what side of the argument (“Mayweather Team” or “Team Pacquiao”) you’re on, as boxing fans we have to start demanding the fights everyone wants to see.
The only way to force these Boxing entities to start providing the fights everyone wants to see is by boycotting the other fights. If boxing promoters like Top Rank, Golden Boy Promotions, and Gary Shaw Promotions want to continue to force secondary fights or the third/fourth installments (Pacquiao/Marquez) down our throats, just stop paying the $69 for the ‘Pay-Per-View’. One of the things I can at least appreciate about UFC/MMA (and I’m not about to start a boxing vs. UFC debate), is the fact that you NEVER have to worry about whether you’ll get to see the top fighters face one another. Dana White (UFC President) may have adopted/mastered the pre-fight hype strategy, but unlike with boxing, where several governing bodies and large promotion groups rule, White maintains enough influence to ensure UFC fans see the best match-ups.
So, boxing fans, if you truly want to see Mayweather (34) and Pacquiao (33) before they reach their forties, then simply stop supporting the nonsense they continue selling. Not to mention, can you think of anything more riveting than the HBO 24/7 that would accompany what would undoubtedly be an epic fight? Talk about “must-see tv”…but if Mayweather/Pacquiao/Arum et al aren’t careful, that “sell-by date” Herschman referenced will have passed.
Jabari A. Davis