Not much of a weekend of boxing ahead, with but one televised card, on ESPN2, and that one (allegedly) is a controversial salvage job, which we’ll explore in a minute. Besides that and the subjects in the headline, we’ll also take a look at the status of Shane Mosley’s steroid-related lawsuit; the application of flying kicks in boxing; the application of judge intimidation in boxing; and what’s on the schedule (or not) for fighters like Israel Vazquez, Andre Ward, Andre Dirrell, Kermit Cintron and some other dudes.
So, that ESPN2 card. I’ll DVR it because there’s not much to it. What was a nice main event in Carlos Quintana-Danny Perez fell apart after Quintana once again pulled out with an injury. Then came the “controversy.” DiBella Entertainment offered junior middleweight Ishe Smith as a replacement, but ESPN2 picked Carlos Molina instead, so Lou DiBella alleged that Molina was picked because he was Hispanic and Smith was not picked because he was black — the second time ESPN2 turned down Smith as a replacement opponent. I’ll grant this: Smith is the more accomplished fighter of the two men. And he has, at times, been entertaining. But he’s also, at times, sucked out the joint. Do I think there’s a chance that ESPN2 thought it could draw more viewers with a Hispanic fighter than a black fighter? Yeah, I do. (I’ll explain why in the next section.) If so, that’s unfair. But I guarantee if Smith was 100 percent entertaining, it wouldn’t even be a question. He’d get the call. Over the next month, two of the next five announced cards feature black fighters in the main events, so it’s not like all black fighters are being — to use the phrase of an article or two about this — “blackballed.”
Kudos to Maxboxing’s Steve Kim for taking on a major issue in the sport that is more than a little difficult to report on without raising hackles — the lack of popularity of a number of black fighters who in many cases deserve to be more popular than they are. I’m one of the first people to reject viewing things through a racial prism, but the evidence is pretty strong that a number of black fighters don’t make as much money as they should; Why in the world aren’t Shane Mosley and Paul Williams in huge demand, for instance? I don’t think the answer is racial bias against black fighters, because, as Kim points out, the most popular black fighters of the past often counted white fans among their biggest contingency of followers. But I do think boxing has lost a lot of black AND white fans, and I agree with some of the people in Kim’s story who say black fighters have been poorly promoted. I don’t think they’ve been poorly promoted because they’re black — I just think that some of them are fighters who lack a natural constituency because of the decline in traditional sources of a fan base, and one needs to be built for them. Hispanic fighters very much have that built-in fan base now. Williams may have had little choice but to face Winky Wright in Las Vegas, but if, as Dan Goossen says, he has a fan base in California, he should fight every fight there until he’s a national star. I could go on and on about the articles — I agree that some black fighters, like Floyd Mayweather, Jr., could be bigger stars if they made more efforts to please fans with their style rather than just win, etc. — but ultimately the article doesn’t fully explain why this phenomenon exists. Still, it’s a highly worthy exploration of the question. I’d proposed something similar as a freelance piece a long time ago, but I never got the time to work on it in part because it was such a massive question. Go read the articles…
Speaking of good publications, there is one unfortunate side effect of the battle this week between George Kimball and The Ring: An excellent boxing site has been hit with the shrapnel as a result. I was first to criticize Kimball’s piece about belt politics, and The Ring subsequently struck back, too. But the publication Kimball wrote it for, The Sweet Science, remains one one of the top boxing publications around. I say this not because its editor, Michael Woods, has been good to me personally; obviously, I was willing to criticize a piece that appeared on TSS despite my affinity for Woods and his gracious willingness to accept submissions from me for his site. I’m saying this because I believe it. The Sweet Science is a daily must-read for boxing fans. I’ve cited its work in a positive manner no fewer than 10 times in 2009. Kimball and TSS slipped up with that unfortunate piece, but Kimball is an excellent boxing writer, and so are all the other scribes in their stable. If you thought less of TSS as a result of any of this, you’d be making a mistake — ain’t nobody perfect, and I’ve had my share of errors here, too. I just wanted that on the record…
Clearing out the last bit of boxing writer insider-y business, you should know that next week’s Boxing Writer Association of America annual awards dinner will be broadcast on gofightlive.tv. As an advocate of more Internet broadcasts of boxing events, this is a great use of technology. A lot of big name fighters will be on-hand and, I expect, giving speeches. Check it out on June 12.
Take a breath on this first sentence: Golden Boy Promotions this week heralded a judge’s rejection of Victor Conte’s attempt to have Shane Mosley’s defamation suit thrown out as a major victory. And it is a victory, that’s true. It’s just not a major one. It’s a defeat of a procedural motion. The defamation suit continues unabated, but is not in any way decided. Per the release: “Mosley has sued Conte for defamation based upon Conte’s outright lies concerning Mosley’s use of steroids. In an effort to avoid reaching the truth, Conte tried the procedural gambit of seeking to dismiss the case for no merit. His efforts were met with a judicial slap in the face, as the Judge denied the motion orally without even feeling the need to write an opinion. As a general rule, only the most frivolous claims are dealt with in this manner. Judd Burstein, Mosley’s attorney, stated, ‘This is one step along the road of securing justice for Shane. Conte can run, but he cannot hide from me.'” Conte said in a statement: “There was absolutely no victory today for Shane Mosley in his defamation case against me. Quite the contrary. The New York judge simply asked for depositions to be taken before he throws the knockout punch to the case. Specifically, the judge noted that he is not even sure if he has jurisdiction to rule in the case. The only thing running at this point is Mosley’s attorney Judd Burstein’s mouth”….
I’m by no means taking sides in this allegation of middleweight Anthony Mundine’s team intimidating judges in his defeat last of Daniel Geale. But it sounds like the kind of thing that ought to be investigated: “The incident on Wednesday night when one of his inner circle abused and tried to influence a judge was symptomatic of the way his followers demean sport… The person in question was quoted as saying he apologised to the judge ‘because we won, but if we hadn’t …’ Yeah, not good if true. There’s more in the article than that, too…
Bantamweight Ratanachai Sor Vorapin has been suspended six months for his own misdeeds in a recent fight — he threw a flying kick at his opponent. Wrong sport, pal…
So apparently things ARE relatively peachy-keen in the relationship between middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik and his promoter Bob Arum, despite recent complaints out of the Pavlik camp to the contrary. The two camps reportedly have an agreement on a new contract through 2011, although there are still some details to be finalized.
Round And Round
The big “fights in the works” news centers on Wladimir Klitschko’s next opponent. David Haye pulled out of their June 20 mega-heavyweight fight with an injury, and now Klitschko is leaning toward taking Ruslan Chagaev as his replacement opponent for that date rather than waiting for Haye to be ready again in late July, although that option hasn’t been ruled out entirely. As I said the other day, I’d prefer Klitschko to wait, but I can’t blame him if he wants to go forward with a replacement opponent — especially if he gets back around to Haye later this year. Klitschko’s team says it’s been assured Klitschko-Chagaev would be for the The Ring lineal heavyweight title belt. Ring’s website put up a story that quoted them saying that, so I guess that means it’s true, although I thought there had to be a vote when the #1 and #3 guys square off instead of the #1 and #2 guy (Klitschko’s brother Vitali is ranked #2). I guess it’s not the most egregious exception, but it doesn’t totally thrill me. Furthermore, I still can’t figure out why Klitschko would want to fight a man who recently tested positive for hepatitis, albeit in Finland but not Germany where the fight would be held. So, none of this is ideal. But Klitschko-Chagaev does have SOME things going for it. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that it’s Klitschko-Haye instead.
ankings-wise (Ring puts him at #9), than Jose Lopez, who was in the running before elsewhere.
For some reason, neither HBO nor Showtime are reportedly interested in Lucien Bute-Librado Andrade II, which boggles the mind. That is the definition of unfinished business, with the controversial ending to their last fight and all. But if Bute-Andrade II can’t find a home, the consolation prize is Bute-Carl Froch in September. That’s the more significant fight, and the more interesting style match-up, but the ending to the first Bute-Andrade fight just sticks in my craw, personally, so I prefer the rematch.