6/21/2012 9:24:32 AM
And while nearly two weeks have passed since the Bradley-Pacquiao decision
that many went far and wide to label a "robbery" -- though I only had it 7-5
for Manny and thought the Marquez III call a few months ago was far worse --
precious little has been done to ensure it won't happen again.
In spite of promoters being ashamed, writers being indignant and Congressmen
taking it upon themselves to sanitize a perpetually sordid sport, I haven't
seen anything of particular merit suggested since a clearly crestfallen Jim
Lampley signed off from the MGM Grand.
In fact, the more days pass...the more it seems no one still cares.
The WBO has said it can't reverse the result, playing the "good and honest
judges" card when referring to Duane Ford and CJ Ross, whose 115-113 nods to
the new champion sparked the firestorm.
Bob Arum has moved far enough past slack-jawed fight-night disgust to label
the PPV numbers a success, and pick new and different fights with Golden Boy
over late-summer calendar conflicts.
And Pacquiao himself is going on vacation with the no longer traumatized wife
and kids, who'll no doubt be happy to heal by helping to spend the $26 million
he was guaranteed to rake in -- win, lose or draw.
Not exactly the follow-up momentum needed to stem a relevance hemorrhage
that's made SportsCenter a "boxing-free" zone, unless it's pithily accompanied
by "another black eye for..."
But with past as prologue, it's pretty much par for the course.
Regardless of the pursuit -- big-time sports or otherwise -- an event that's
widely viewed as a catastrophe almost always prompts instant chatter on how to
avoid a reprisal.
A contentious election yields a wave of voting reform. A speedway accident
yields a wave of safety measures. And an environmental crisis yields a wave of
Boxing, it seems...is only a little bit different.
While the sweet science can contend with anything when it comes to post-
apocalyptic righteousness, it differs in the practical sense because too few
of the aftermath ideas seem to have staying power past the end of the next
Already, in fact, yesterday's calls for Congressional review, national
oversight and fine-tooth combed decisions have become today's promotional
scheduling catfight, debate over summertime jail quarters and teary memoriam
for a drug-addled ex-champion.
And somehow, the barely relevant beat goes on.
Further and further from the coveted mainstream.
And while everyone involved is keenly aware of lingering problems, the
opinion-shaping sidelines are perpetually long on fault-finding keyboard
jockeys -- and woefully short on anyone willing to actually proffer long-term
cures for respect-sapping ills.
So...into that breach, I humbly step with this nugget.
To offset the chances of three more judges turning in three more scorecards
that turn Harold Lederman's stomach while turning the sport on its ear, here's
a suggestion that takes the pencils and pads out of their hands -- and gives
them to folks far more accustomed to widespread criticism.
Yes, you guessed it...the media.
Rather than state commissions plucking moonlighting district attorneys and
insurance executives to decide the course of super-fight history, how about a
panel of five media members -- chosen at random from press row at a given
event -- to turn in the night's official scores?
It makes good sense in all sorts of ways. Most of the elite writers who cover
boxing have been doing it for a lot of years, which means they've probably
seen as many fights -- large, small and otherwise -- as all but a sliver of
the sales managers and small-time CEOs with the cushy ringside stools.
Because they wouldn't be named in advance or known to either camp, it'd be
much more difficult to concoct conspiracy theories that often follow bad
verdicts. So they wouldn't be swept up in the "the promoter must've got to
them" nonsense that comes after the most egregious fights.
And if worse came to worse, with five scorecards instead of three, there'd be
more opportunity to override one rogue who insisted a wide loser had in fact
administered "a boxing lesson."
Need more evidence?
Look no further than the media poll circulated in the wake of Bradley-
No fewer than 50 of 53 writers had Pacquiao decisively ahead -- with all but
four of the 50 seeing a margin of four points or greater, and seven of 50
giving Bradley no more than a round.
Quibble about the margins if you'd like...but in their collective eyes, the
right guy won.
And isn't that really all that matters?
While you're at it, think back on other bad decisions of both recent and long-
term vintage and recall how often the scribe consensus had it correct. In
fact, it's much harder to recall a fight where the public said, "You know
what, the judges nailed it and the media was way off."
Here's a hint, it doesn't happen that way, folks.
The writers get it right.
So with that reality in mind, here's a plea from a midweek columnist with a
100,000-mile car and 27 years left on his mortgage to his devoted readers
among the sport's omnipotent powers.
Instead of simply prolonging the problems with Band-Aid solutions like
temporary judge suspensions -- or taking away signature suspense with
misguided fixes like open scoring -- how about taking a bolder step by leaving
the sport's fate in the hands of those with a vested interest in its health.
Take a look around...you could hardly do much worse.
This week's title-fight schedule:
No fights scheduled.
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-
fledged title-holder -- no interim, diamond, silver, etc. For example, fights
for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists
in the weight class.
Last week's picks: 2-0
Overall picks record: 408-139 (74.5 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally
since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and
posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at
[email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @fitzbitz.