“C’mon. Don’t B—S— me.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Total Recall”
That’s the bottom line. We started our show on FOX Sports Radio this morning, one of the first sounding boards for the boxing public and sports fans to comment on Saturday night’s bout between Manny Pacquaio and Tim Bradley. I was sorely disappointed. I expected better than the same rants and rhetoric that I’ve heard after seemingly every boxing event in recent memory.
“Never again.” “The fix was in.” Insert your favorite statement of indignation and disgust here.
All of them led to the great summary statement of “I’ll never watch again.” It’s the same refrain uttered by elbow-bending that leads to headaches and frequent visits to the porcelain god. When the next round of “24/7″ starts to cycle into the picture while you await a rerun of “True Blood” in the fall, the pump will be primed again. You’ll be ready to punk down your credit card again. You’ll invite your friends over, figure out a menu and you’ll get into the next card.
Don’t kid yourself. You’ll do it.
Your outrage will last for approximately the next 24-48 hours. It’s the natural cycle of events. By Tuesday morning, the sporting world will be discussing the Kings’ victory over the Devils in Game 6 to win the Stanley Cup or celebrating the glory of Martin Brodeur while eagerly awaiting Game 7. The rest of the talking heads and 24-news networks will be previewing Game 1 of The NBA Finals in what is being termed “The Battle Between Good and Evil.” You can anticipate ceaseless and sometimes nauseating montages of Heat and Thunder highlights (there will not be enough of Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka represented).
I understand that diehard boxing fans and industry pundits were frustrated and incensed following the announcement of Bradley’s victory by a split decision. I don’t pretend to be an expert in the pugilistic arts. I respect the opinions of longtime boxing journalists and Uber-fans who posted their diatribes to the Twitterverse. Perhaps my untrained eye missed the part where Pacquaio obviously won? Perhaps the judges were swayed by the fact that Bradley appeared to be the aggressor in most rounds, regardless of Pacquaio’s overwhelming lead in total punch count.
I get it. The tie normally goes to the legend, but in a sport that leaves decisions to opinions, the judges rendered one and …
… It was unpopular
… It upset people
… It made boxing the No. 1 story in the Sunday conversation.
LeBron James and the Heat advancing to The NBA Finals ranked a second story. The Kings losing 2-1 on two difficult goals against Jonathan Quick (one of his own doing) and the late scratch of “I’ll Have Another” for The Belmont Stakes were stories that paled in comparison to the visceral reaction to this fight. Hell, only the poll about resurrecting old television shows matched our audience’s passion.
Get over the anger. The boxing game hasn’t changed. Lose your righteous indignation. The base of the sport is in Las Vegas. There are numerous federations in a fractured business where promoters control the purse strings and run the marketing machine. There’s no transparency in the judging and monstrous payouts are guaranteed before the fight is completed. You’ve been angered before by this sport. You mocked the height of the Don King era as much as you celebrated the pre-”In the Air Tonight” Mike Tyson.
Bob Arum expressed his feelings about the decision, but was quick to point out that fact that he will make millions and millions of dollars for the inevitable rematch.
You’ll come back for another taste. Arum knows it. Your curiosity about how Pacquaio changes his strategy against Bradley in the rematch will get you to punch up the “Buy” button on PPV or to order online via Top Rank. They know it.
If those chartering the fate of the boxing world cared about your perception of the sport, all of the quick fixes to “restore” (bad word choice) credibility would have been implemented. You’d see the round-by-round scoring by the judges after each round. You’d get a brief statement from each judge about their perception of the round instead of another montage of Las Vegas highlights. The leaders of these competing federations would saddle up and get the matches that need to be made — MADE!
Floyd Mayweather could fight a puppet on a string in his first bout following his incarceration and it would do grand box office. The fact that Pacquiao’s “seven-year undefeated streak” came to an end is inconsequential. The dollars for PPV buys are still going to be there. There aren’t enough high-profile competitors to keep the interested masses away. The UFC has obviously become a machine, embraced by the mass media and rabid fans worldwide. Dana White’s outfit has been positioned as the paradigm of virtue in the post-fight hype. Vince McMahon and the WWE empire of “sports entertainment” is on the other side of the scale, with boxing falling somewhere in the middle, depending on what your level of skepticism is on a given day.
Save your dollars. The next big card and a “24/7″ series to whet your appetite will arrive at your doorstep soon enough. You’ll get twitchy and start screaming “Fight Night!” ad nausea in a fashion akin to Nicolas Cage in “Snake Eyes.”
I do know this. I would have loved to hear Bert Randolph Sugar talk in the aftermath of this one.