It's too bad that I'm just a lowly little writer and not the benevolent dictator of the world. Oh, not the whole world- those problems are much too big and complex for me to solve- but the boxing world. If I was to rule the banana republic that is boxing I could really shake things up.
Here's just a sampling of what I'd change if I could wave a magic wand:
* I'd go back to 15 Round fights: That would be my first issue of legislation. 15 round championship fights are when boys became men and champions separated themselves from contenders. Think about how history would have been altered if 12 round championship bouts were in place when Joe Louis was getting slapped silly by an upstart Billy Conn in their first encounter in 1941. Or when Sugar Ray Leonard was told bluntly by his trainer Angelo Dundee, 'You're blowing kid, you're blowing it' when he had fallen behind the dangerous Thomas Hearns.
As you know, both Louis and Leonard would stage memorable comebacks in the late rounds-something that doesn't happen if they fought today.
What about the safety factor? I mean wasn't that the reason why WBC dictator Jose Sulaiman pushed for the dozen rounds. Hate to break it to you but the real reason is that a scheduled 12 rounds fit much more neatly into an hour programming (in the days of the networks actually televising boxing) than 15 rounds. This was as much a programming decision as it was a safety issue. Also, some veteran trainers have told me time and time again that 15 round bouts made it crystal clear to fighters that they had to get in shape.
C'mon, let's make 'championship round's' mean something again. I mean, they still go 9 innings in baseball don't they? Could you imagine if they went the little league route and shortened their games to seven? Sorry, but the 'fifth inning stretch' somehow doesn't cut it.
* Clear the ring!!!: You know what really stands out when I watch these old fights on Classic Sports? No, it's not the black and white film or the John Stockton 'short short's' that fighters sport. But it's before the bout during ring intro's how empty the ring is. I mean, all you see is the lone ring announcer, the trainer and his seconds and.... that's it. Imagine that?
Now, you seemingly have every member of the athletic commission, the representatives of whatever sanctioning body is involved, cameramen and the production crew of whoever is televising the event and then of course the obligatory entourages of the two fighters. And if those fighters have multiple belts ( and never mind if they don't even hold some of those titles anymore- they still bring them out) each belt is accompanied by a guy hoisting it over his head and loudly chanting in a sycophantic fashion.
Hey, if you ain't fighting or working the corner, get out of the damn ring. You've gotten a credential to get inside the arena free, you've probably spent a whole week at whatever hotel the fight is at on the champs dime- and proceeded to run up quite a bill on room service and the wet bar- shouldn't that be enough? And if your man wins, the gravy train continues in the future. But get out of the ring.
Nowadays, it seems like after a Michael Buffer or Jimmy Lennon Jr. finish introducing the fighters that it takes at least 5 minutes to clear the ring and get the fight started. I got an idea, let's not let 95-percent of these guys in here to begin with and we won't have this problem.
* Introduce the former champs: Remember this fine old tradition? Where they used to bring all the former ring notables into the ring before the main event and let them hear the applause of an appreciative crowd. It was a great way to let these old pro's know that we haven't forgotten their contributions.
Nowadays, not only are these intermissions much longer, but now they waste our time by announcing every single celebrity and athlete that has nothing to do with boxing. C'mon, boxing should be on the center stage, not a bunch of prima donnas who are there because it's a scene and they're there to be seen. I mean, it hit rock bottom when during the Marco Antonio Barrera-Naseem Hamed bout last year they were doing the usual roll call and of all people, quarterback pariah, Ryan Leaf's name was called out. RYAN FREAKIN LEAF!!!! But the crowd at least reacted appropriately by booing lustily.
One thing that bugs me is that no matter who's announced, with so many people milling around, how do you really know if they're in attendance? Also, when boxers get called out with names like Magic Johnson, Jack Nicholson or Charles Barkley (who are fight fixtures), the reception they get is small in comparison. Boxers shouldn't be embarrassed on a night of a big fight.
And bring them into the ring, let folks who have never seen them, get an idea of who they are. On boxing's biggest nights, boxing and boxers should be in the spotlight.
* Count to 10: Now, I'm not saying that we let boxers take the savage beatings they took in the past, but what happened to the non-technical knockout, where the referee was over a fallen fighter and had counted to ten before a guy could get back on his feet.
It seems now boxing, as brutal as it is, has gotten a bit sanitized in this regard. And yes, safety in boxing should be of the utmost importance, but boxers who get in there, know exactly what they're risking and they want every opportunity to stay in fights.
Also if Jay Nady would have just counted to ten or the mandatory eight when Zab Judah crashed to the canvas and done his 'running man' dance after taking that big right hand against Kostya Tszyu, I think he would have been in much better position to make a judgment on Judah's condition.
I see too many fights where the referee's call off the fight as soon as a fighters back hit's the canvas and the fighters protest loudly. Hey, if the ref would just count to eight( or above) and they still don't think the fight should continue, then by all means do so. But give fighters a chance to fight- this is what they do for a living. They understand the risks involved.
These are just a few of the things I change and I promise that if I get elected- no new taxes. Famous last words, huh?
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