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Dougie’s mini-Margarito mailbag

01
Sep

I'LL KEEP MY SOAPBOX

Doug,
In a week where the biggest boxing news is the licensing in Texas of disgraced cheater Antonio Margarito, the only mention in your mailbag is a dig at the “scathing soapbox columns of American boxing writers”? Are you going to tell me that all of your emails were about the James Toney sideshow and nobody wrote to you about Margarito? I find that hard to believe. For a writer who has bemoaned the lack of criticism from the boxing press towards Bob Arum, this is the perfect opportunity to rip the Top Old Crank a third hole to spew feces to accompany his mouth and his backside.

Maybe many boxing writers are apoplectic at the Margarito debacle because every overarching ill in the sport is on full display: the lack of central authority and real unified rules for all commissions; the damaging power that greedy scumbag promoters like Arum wield with complete disregard for the health of the sport; the state commissions’ utter inability to properly regulate the sport; the lack of character, integrity, or basic humanity in boxing’s power brokers (in this case, Arum and Greenburg); the fact that the sports’ active shining beacon of character and integrity, Congressman Manny Pacquiao, is a willful participant now sullied by this mess; and how so many in the sport are perfectly willing to attack and personally slight (as in “soapbox” digs rather than reasoned arguments) those critical of this disgraceful fight.

If you want to be all excited about Pacquiao’s second one-sided whitewashing in Texas this year, I can’t stop you. Get off how you get off. But just because you’d rather bury your head in the sand and pretend that this is great for the sport and Margarito deserves the opportunity (I’m pretty sure Vanes Martirosyan could also beat Robert Garcia, is he next for Manny? You like that matchup?) doesn’t mean that everybody needs to respond in kind. Maybe you think Dan Rafael, Kevin Iole, and others are just yelling from a soapbox; I think they are doing their jobs exceedingly well and demonstrating that they have the courage to stand by their convictions, even if it might create tensions with Top Rank for them that could possibly hinder their future work. I’ll take that over willful ignorance in defense of the worst kind of cheat boxing can produce any day.

Sincerely. — Scott Kraus

Scott, at the time you sent this email (Friday at 9:12 a.m. PT), it was the only one I had received about Margarito being licensed in Texas. I hadn’t received any email with “Margarito” in the subject line before I put last week’s Friday mailbag to bed (around 2:30 a.m. on Friday).

So far, I’ve only received four “outraged” emails (including yours) about the licensing issue, and maybe two or three others that mention Margarito and the Nov. 13 fight among other subjects. Most of the emails I received over the weekend were about the Calderon-Segura fight, complaints about RingTV.com having James Toney’s MMA loss as the lead feature on Sunday, and pro and con arguments about having MMA on a boxing site.

I don’t think this is because most fans don’t care that Margarito is licensed and in a huge fight. I think it has to do with the fact that the fight is two and half months away. I believe that most RingTV.com readers realize that there will be plenty of time to slam, support or debate the ethics of Pacquiao-Margarito as the fight date gets closer, but for now they would rather talk about the excellent junior flyweight bout they saw (or lament that they missed it) and the good, solid matchups that are coming up on Sept. 11, Sept. 18 and Oct. 2.

Regarding the “opportunity” to criticize Arum and Margarito, I’m not the kind of writer who seeks out reasons to rip anyone in the sport. The only reason I’ve ever “bemoaned” the fact that many notable boxing writers fail to criticize Arum is because many of those same writers scrutinize every move Golden Boy Promotions makes. I’m not against criticism where it’s due, I just think the media should hold everyone to the same standard.

And so far, I haven’t read much criticism directed towards Arum. Everything seems focused on Margarito, with a little bit of scorn tossed Pacquiao’s and HBO’s way.

If you’re a regular reader of my mailbags you probably already know that I don’t feel that strongly about Margarito’s decision to continue fighting and to seek a license in the U.S. I know I’m in the minority among boxing writers/media, and maybe I’m wrong for doing this, but I’m giving Margarito the benefit of the doubt.

There's a reasonable doubt in my mind as to whether Margarito knew what Javier Capetillo was doing to his wraps the night of the Shane Mosley fight. If I don't know for a fact that Margarito knew that his wraps were being loaded, I'm not going to wish for — or push for — his being banned from the sport for life.

This is not to say that I that I believe Margarito deserves the shot at Pacquiao, the substantial payday he will receive or that I’m excited about the fight. I don’t think Margarito deserves to fight for a vacant 154-pound title or be in a mega-event, and I’m not pissing my pants in anticipation of Pacquiao-Margarito. However, I'm not vehemently against the bout taking place and I do plan to travel to Texas to cover the fight.

As for the “conviction and courage” of the boxing writers who are outraged/disgusted by this fight taking place and have stated so in recent scathing columns, I ask you — and I'll ask them as well — are their convictions strong enough to boycott Pacquiao-Margarito?

Because if all they are going to do is write that Margarito is the scum of the earth from now until the fight, and then show up and cover the event on Nov. 13, I think they’re doing more than just “yelling from a soapbox;” I think they’re helping Arum PROMOTE the damned fight!

Controversy sells, Scott.

Every major sports writer and his brother basically wrote that Mike Tyson was “the living embodiment of all that is evil in the universe” from the time that he bit Evander Holyfield’s ear (June of 1997) through to the melee he started at the kick-off presser for the Lennox Lewis fight (January of 2002) but all those soapbox columns did was help fuel interest for the eventual Lewis-Tyson showdown.

It didn’t matter that Tyson was denied a license in Nevada, New Jersey and New York prior to the Lewis fight, which took place in Memphis, Tenn., in June of 2002, that pay-per-view show did a then-record 1.9 million buys and generated over $100 million in PPV revenue.

And just about every major boxing writer who slammed Tyson (whose violent and unsporting behavior in and out of the ring deserved criticism) and derided the fight as a farce (which it was, Tyson had no shot against Lewis) — with the exception of historian Bert Sugar — made the trek to Memphis and had a grand old time hanging out and eating BBQ before and after covering the event for their various publications.

Hypocrisy? Yeah, juuust a little bit. And think the same thing will happen with the Nov. 13 event.

I would argue that if you (a fan or boxing writer) are truly outraged by Margarito's re-licensing and participation in this high-profile bout, you should not only boycott the event, you should try to write or speak about it as little as possible. Just state that you’re against the fight taking place and refuse to support it. The louder and more damning the criticism is about an individual and/or event, the more interest and anticipation is often created.

HANDS OF PLASTER

What up big Doug?
Hands of Plaster being rubberstamped for a license in Texas is a perfect example of the laughingstock our sport has become. Seriously. Tony has brought more shame on our sport than anyone since Jeffrey Resto, and he is being rewarded with a career-making fight. Are you f____ing kidding me?

My friends used to kid me that boxing was no different than professional wrestling… it's not a joke any longer. I can’t think of a fight that can be made that would do more damage to our sport’s already flagging credibility. It's a slap in the face to boxing fans everywhere. It's a big “F___ You Finger” from Boob Arum himself. The Tijuana Twist can wrap his hands in cement if he wants, the idiots in the Texas commission won’t notice. They'll be too busy feeding at the buffet trough and giggling at Richard Cole’s nickname. Someone should strap a couple of cinder blocks on Margarito’s hands and tell him that Boob Arum stole his Shakira Mix Tape. Let’s see how Arum likes being pummeled by a moron bearing bricks.

Anyone who buys this fight is underwriting manslaughter. And, they are giving tacit approval to Pac’s avoiding real challenges against deserving fighters. Fighters, by the way, who weren't caught cheating. Every sissified, sugar-tittied, half a grill cheese between the legs having, Zima drinking, white-girl f____ing, loser that supports this fight is driving another nail into boxing’s coffin. It's clear that the ultra-rich power brokers that control this sport couldn't give a pant load about the long-term health of the sport, and are just lining their pockets, before moving on to exploit another third-world commodity.

Do you really think Boob cares if boxing goes to s__t in the next 10 years? He's gonna stroke out soon, and spend the remaining years of his life convalescing in heaven’s waiting room (Miami, Fla.). He'll be mute, immobile, and unable to wipe his own ass. Fortunately, he'll have a litany of broke, and broken, ex-fighters who'll gladly wipe his ass for $8.00 bucks an hour and the occasional slobbering smile from their adopted father figure. A national boxing commission is never going to happen, because rich white men don't give a s__t about little people. State commissions aren't going to safeguard the sport as long as it brings big money into their coffers. The only people who can properly police this sport is the fans.

I just went to Toprank.com, and sent them an email underlining my feelings about this embarrassment. When Top Rank opens their email tomorrow they'll have an email from me, an email from Pedro Fernandez advising them that the FBI is about to break down their front door to end “Operation Matchbox,” an email from James Toney asking for directions to Jack in the Box, and an advertisement for Viagra sold direct from the Bahamas. Which one do you think Boob will read first? — Kirk

My guess is that Arum will not read any of them. He’s got more pressing matters to attend to, mainly his son who is missing somewhere in the wilderness outside of Seattle and a major boxing promotion on Nov. 13.

I respect your outrage at Margarito’s license reinstatement and disgust for the Pacquiao fight being made (I know that you will not spend your hard-earned money on the Nov. 13 PPV). I also understand your disappointment in the current state of the sport and your sadness at the continuing downward slide of boxing’s reputation and respectability.

I think you’ve voiced what a lot of fans are feeling, but sometimes I wish you weren’t so over the top with the manner in which you express yourself. Your views are valid (well, not all of them, but most of them) but when fans go totally off (as you just did) I can’t blame “the powers that be” for not taking them seriously and it’s hard for more casual/mellower followers of boxing to pick up on what they are complaining about.

Having said that, I enjoy reading your emails, Kirk. They make me laugh, blush and cringe at the same time. When are you going to start a weekly column?

Let me know when you’re in the L.A. area. We’re overdue a lot of hard drinks and a few a cigars.

SLIDE ON BY, PACQUIAO-MARGARITO

Dear Dougie,
Hey ho, so Texas has granted Margarito the right to fight, and once again proves to the world that the heart of this wonderful sport can be so ultimately corrupted by the power and money-hungry big boys.

No surprises there!

What does surprise me, though, is how fight fans allow this to happen.

How many people out there are sickened by how Margarito has ended up in this position, and frustrated by egocentric promoters who so blatantly dictate the fights we will and will not see for their own (NOT us or their fighters’) interests. And yet, time after time, despite the obvious negative feelings towards this out there, fans still buy in to it, literally, by purchasing tickets and those all-important PPVs.

Some would argue that it’s just the state of the game, and, in the case of the (clearly wrong) Pacquiao/Margarito fight, why not just pay up and enjoy what in all likelihood will be an entertaining and well-deserved beating of the latter.

It’s also understandable how some will simply get sucked in by the promotion side of it all and see it as their duty as a ‘boxing fan’ to buy what’s out there. It’s current, it’s what’s happening, and they want to be part of it.

Fair enough; but maybe a better way of being a boxing fan and supporting the game itself, in the state it should be in, is to let a fight like this simply slide on by without taking any of its cash with you. It’s really easy to do.

I’ll read the reports afterwards and probably hear some excellent descriptions of how Margarito got taken apart in an exciting tear-up, and I’ll be able to imagine that and smile. A highlights or full fight clip will probably appear on YouTube at some point in the future and I’ll enjoy that too.

Is that a cheap/hypocritical line to take? Perhaps, but the satisfaction will come from not having just lined the pockets of the side of that industry that I can’t stomach.

It’s a simple statement, and if enough fans do it what better way would there be of telling Bob Arum et al to ‘Go f*** themselves’, and maybe, just maybe, making them think again.

Keep up the great writing and analysis. — Rob

Thanks Rob. I think you have the right idea for fans who are frustrated with Margarito, Arum, and everyone else affiliated with the Pacquiao fight.

However, I’d like to hear from you as the fight gets closer. I’d like to hear from other fans who plan on skipping Pacquiao-Margarito in the coming weeks. I want to know what you think of the media coverage of the fight and I’d like to hear if you have second thoughts on not ordering the PPV show.

I don’t want to come off as skeptical or jaded, but I’ve hear from so-called “fed-up” hardcore fans all the time who tell me they aren’t going to order this PPV or that PPV because it’s a “farce” or whatever. I received tons of such emails before Lewis-Holyfield II, Lewis-Tyson, De La Hoya-Mosley II, De La Hoya-Hopkins, De La Hoya-Mayorga, Mayweather-Hatton, De La Hoya-Pacquiao and Pacquiao-Clottey. Those PPV events did between 800,000 and 1.9 million buys. Somebody bought them. Maybe those events all had some degree of crossover appeal or tapped into specific markets outside of hardcore fans. Or maybe some of those hardcore heads that ranted and raved about how they are sick of lining promoters’ pockets with money for fights they didn’t ask for broke down on fight night and gave up their dough.

I think it’s case of a little bit of both and I can’t help but wonder if that’s going to happen with Pacquiao-Margarito. Let me go over the checklist (that Arum’s already gone over a thousand times in his head):

We’ve got the national followings of both fighters (the Filipino and Mexican faithful), HBO doing its 24/7 thing, Jerry Jones adding his influence and marketing muscle to the promotion, and the Margarito controversy and every sports columnist screaming bloody murder about it enhancing the hype. Check, check, check and check. Yeah, I’m afraid this promotion is going to do quite well.

My guess is that Cowboys Stadium will host 80,000 and the PPV will do between 1 million and 1.5 million buys. Maybe I’m wrong, Rob. Maybe you and like-minded fans can prove me (and Arum and HBO) wrong. We’ll see.

Doug Fischer can be contacted at [email protected]

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