Boxing Writer Struggles To Maintain Regard For The Sport As It Now
Asking someone to play basketball with you in a park is a fun activity. Asking someone to box you in a park could be considered a felony. boxing at its core, it is a fringe sport. Yes, it’s a sport, but only marginally and under the close scrutiny of a state sports commission. Because of this, as a boxing writer, I feel like everything about our sport is always viewed differently.
I was playing a member-guest golf tournament and the host asked me what I was doing and after a long reply boxing came up. The general tone was that I’ve worked with a lot of criminals or people who do wrong and that’s basically how many people watch our sport.
I’d like to think that we carry a moral compass in a sport, but I’m often confused by the judgment we use to evaluate situations in our sport.
Right is right and wrong is wrong. Simply.
Sometimes we have gray areas and that requires judgment, but boxing has now become a social club. If you want to collect friends on the Internet, you need to enter:
– A die-hard, steadfast fandom for a fighter you will defend at all costs
This is what has made boxing Twitter and the internet as a whole such a fun place to be. You can see a lot of people who like boxing or like to talk as I think some like talking to people more about business matters and stuff like that more than the sport but that’s ok. You get a pulse for what is happening. Think of it as real-time SEO, and you’ll meet like-minded people with similar or different ambitions and goals than yourself.
Yet with every prevailing relegation of the sport, every young fighter carrying baggage, we see the goalposts being moved as it benefits the media. You may hear “innocent until proven guilty” or “I don’t believe it” while for a very similar situation it means doom or darkness. We are no different from politics. When you subscribe to a political party, you will often overlook the indecencies of your own political party because you are subscribing to the overall tone of the overall message. As Niccolo Machiavelli once said, “The end justifies the means.”
Meet the new weapon on the public platform that Robert Caro wrote about it in ‘The Power Broker’, a book about Robert Moses. It carries over so well to boxing.
“Hospitality has always been a powerful political weapon. Moses used it like a master. Coupled with his overwhelming personality, a buffet was often as much of a proposition as a bribe.” —Robert A. Caro, “The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York”
In short, you want access to the best fighters in the world, you need two things, access and viewership, and they usually go hand in hand. In short, those you politically ally with are likely willing to give you access, or even more – give you shares so you can get the new modern currency in the social media world – “clout”. The credibility of the demigods who have blue ticks or hang out with celebrities, or even the celebrities themselves who you think are cool and reputable, creating a wave of people following your monetizable platforms but also the allow one this position to get more power.
Yet how can we build a beacon of credibility in boxing journalism when essentially the most shocking and negative content is shared on social media platforms, as platforms like Instagram, Twitter and many others reward negative content with their algorithm based on engagement and views in the Contrast to dense factual material? Well, I firmly believe that the market will correct itself and that older people like me will have to adjust. As rapper Larry June said, “The game changed, so so did I.” That’s what we have to do, find ways to create new content. I see many doing great work such as B. iD Boxing, which has produced some of the most innovative work of late.
That doesn’t stop the thesis, however, that powerful fans of intent will be armed with fans who want to hear a fan perspective that could spew out negative, unhelpful, and often defamatory content about specific fighters. We can say we’ll ignore it, in fact I do, but these accounts are getting a lot of traction and a lot of fight fans will be really excited about this content.
The fandom for some or content monetization around Gervonta Davis has now created a new industrial complex, the Boxing Denial Industrial Complex, where fans will want to tune in and learn how to talk about and spread words that reshape the picture. I saw this in motion as Davis was booked and arrested on Tuesday December 27th while he has an ongoing court case at play as of November 2020. The word I would use is disturbing.
We live in a world where the fans are now the reporters, the reporters now look like they are the fans, and the promoters are essentially trying to create all their own content, limiting the need for reporting in general .
The boxers’ journeys are interesting, but most of the conversation now seems to revolve around mythical fights…why? Well, we’ve been trained to believe that fights take a long time to get signed and that fictional fights or the business aspect is the best way to connect with the biggest names in sport. More than likely it won’t be until May that we see a top 10 consensus pound for pound fighter in the ring, that’s five months into our sporting calendar if that doesn’t reflect where our sport stands, i do not know what is?
That being said, those who support the sport really do. They love it and I would trade in any of our boxing fans. You watch week in and week out to be fair we’ve had a great year so far on all the major networks as the young fighters are taking over the sport and moving past the fighters that used to be at the top of the division but just aren’t fighting enough .
We normalize unhealthy and bad behavior in boxing as it is a bad boy sport, but we have no Mendoza lineage for fair treatment. Well, add to that the fact that boxing, like MMA, often has a pretty terrible reaction when a social issue arises, no matter what you think on the subject. Want to see a fighter or personality check a take without even thinking about it, wait for something to happen politically in this country, and check out Twitter for some cringe-worthy opinions. Education is devalued in this sport and aspects of that show. But the grandiose nature of greatness through suffering is so fulfilling for one who achieves their dreams. It’s holding us all back.
If this were an important sport, we would have big conversations about everything that goes on in and outside of sport. Boxing isn’t a big sport and this shows us why. Most people are too scared to speak up – they want to keep access to a big marquee fighter. So as long as a fighter is making a lot of money from clicks with a blog or vlog, you will see an endless supply of people waiting to defend him and think his wealth will line their pockets too.
I watch the fights, I watch the pressers, I listen to the fighters, but other than that, I’m as removed from the sport as ever.
ask me about Ryan Garcia vs Gervonta Davisand I’ll give you this answer – “I don’t care.”
I don’t find it interesting to talk about it until fight week. I’ve been through the wrestler, heard of fights before and have done it before. Too many good fighters fight for me to put my energy into famous people and guide us through the journey of a marquee fight. If I wanted to be a manager I might enjoy it, but I don’t enjoy much human interaction on a day-to-day basis, let alone having to deal with people on their terms, so why should that be entertaining I ask y’all?
Some might say I’m burned out, and maybe I am. But I think it’s more like I just enjoy what I enjoy. I enjoy a fighter’s adversity, I enjoy the gym, I enjoy watching fights, preferably at home or near my home, and I was raised not to let business become public affairs. Gossip is often other people’s business, it’s fun to hear, but when I hear too much it starts taking me away from my own personal life goals.
So in the future do I have to rekindle my boxing fandom to cover this sport closely or just enjoy my time with young fighters who want to emerge, people who life hasn’t beaten yet. I personally prefer the latter, but pay myself enough and I’m sure I can make the other one a reality.