In the United States, many of us are predisposed to a fascination with all things large.
McDonalds gets this. Plastic surgeons installing silicon blobs get this. And those in charge of making and marketing fights get this.
This is why we have an egregious situation in the fight game that needs to be remedied. No, not the excess of fare offered on a pay-per-view basis. For now, that model has been smacked down by the harsh overhand right dispensed by the marketplace, as fans that could previously be relied upon to buy PPVs are now saving their money for other more necessary expenditures, like food, and rent.
I’m talking about the absence of “little guys” on pound for pound lists. Go ahead, get Googling, and bring up some pound for pound lists from your fave fightwriters. You’ll notice that men weighing under 135 pounds are severely underrepresented on said lists. It’s a case of, “If you ain’t big, you ain’t go the gig.”
Of course, P4P lists are ultra subjective, so we can argue til we’re blue in the face that a bias against smaller fighters doesn’t exist. But I point to myself as Exhibit A in building a case for bias against the minis. I’ve always been a fan of the big boys. Something about the frame, and the possibility of a one-punch rubout, has always appealed to me. I can identify with them, being of a large frame myself, and there is also an element of aspiration involved; I look at (insert your own archetypical heavyweight of awe inspiring physique and marble-shattering punching power) and see what I could be, if only I reign in my bad eating habits and genetic failings.
But when I look at Vic Darchinyan, or Jorge Arce, or Chris John, I cannot say the same. No offense to any of them, master pugilists all. But they all weigh 120 or 130 pounds, walking around. In that context, I find I have very little in common with them. And for that reason, me and others who are of average and above-average size tend to have a conscious or subconscious aversion to giving them their due when it comes time to craft a pound for pound list.
But now that I have named this glaring defect, it is high time I tame it, or at least, spread the word about the mistreatment of the smaller pugilists at the hands of fuller framed fightwrighters.
Because really, the more time you spend watching the under 130 crowd, the more impressed you are bound to be, and the more likely you are to place guys like Vic and Jorge on your P4P list.
With this in mind, I am gearing myself up for the Feb. 7 Vic Darchinyan/Jorge Arce clash at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.—-to be shown on Showtime--in which Darchinyan’s 115-pound International Boxing Federation (IBF), World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Association (WBA) world titles will be on the line. The winner should, with a strong showing in a reasonably tight scrap, be rewarded with a place on more P4P lists.
Arce himself delved into the issue of the smaller pugilsts being overlooked and perhaps more tragically, underpaid, on a Wednesday conference call to hype the faceoff.
“Little guys don’t get paid the money we deserve,” said the 29-year-old Los Mochis-Mexicao native with a 51-4 record. “We give exciting fights every time we go out there. I just go in there and do the best I can to give the fans a good fight. Once this fight is over I hope people will remember it for a long time.”
The man has lost once since 1999, and that was to a world class talent, in Cristian Mijares (UD12 loss in 2007). If there is a compelling reason why he isn’t on more P4P lists, let’s have them.
But Arce, smartly, isn’t consumed by the slight and instead will work to convince non-believers that he deserves both their respect and fatter paydays. ”It doesn’t bother me (that I’m not in the pound-for-pound rankings),” he said. “I try to do the best I can. If I win this fight I think that I have to be considered as one of the best fighters in the world.’’
Certainly, the trash talk between the two men cannot be dismissed as dimunitive. “I will knock him out,” said Arce, who unfairly was dismissed as all style and no substance after the Mijares loss, because of his showy ring entrances. He shot down this line of thinking.
“I know when I can do my entrances and when I can plan things. Sometimes fights are not interesting so I have to do something to entertain them. But this fight speaks for itself and I don’t have to do anything. He is a great champion and this will be a great fight. I know he will do everything to knock me out in one punch and we’ll do everything to put on a show. The extra isn’t needed. My career was taking off, (but) then when I lost to Mijares, people thought I wasn’t as good of a boxer as some people thought I was. They thought I was just a singer and a celebrity and an entertainer. But everyone has bad nights. I just had a bad night that day. The media and fans don’t understand that I can have a bad night.’’
No, there is nothing jockey-sized about Arce’s determination as he counts down to Feb. 7. “I don’t see this fight going 12 rounds,” he said. “I see it as a knockout. If he knocks me down once I’m going to get back up. He’s going to have to throw a lot of punches to knock me out. He’s in for a long night. I’m always self assured who I am and what I am about. When I train for fights like this I feel invincible. If he hits me three times I hit him six. If he hits me five I hit him ten. I’m fighting for life or death. No one can stop me.”
Still on the fence, or think you’ll pass on the Feb. 7 super fly showdown? Still hold onto your supersized bias? Maybe you think the flys can’t and don’t deliver the mayhem and controlled violence you crave? Maybe Arce’s promise to deliver the goods, in stark terms, will change your mind.
“I love to see blood,” he said. “I give fans blood, and when I get blood on me, I love that. It gets me more aggressive. I hope we can give fans a long fight on February 7 with a lot of blood.”
What more can we ask? If he delivers on his promises, of knockdowns on both sides, a KO against a fighter with a 31-1 record, Arce deserves a payout in the realm of money and respect.
Jorge Arce is big talent, in a small package, and I am, moving forward, pronouncing myself more open to appreciating the skills and talents of fighters in and around his weight class.
This message has been sponsored by the International Society For The Advancement Of Lighter Weight Pugilists (ISALWP).
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?