Born on December 13, 1913, ( or 1916 to Archie) Moore boxed for years without due recognition. He fought all over the country. He even traveled to Australia and Argentina in search of fame and fortune. After six years on the circuit, Archie began to make his move toward the big time. In 1942, he knocked out Shorty Hogue in two rounds. Hogue had decisioned Archie no less than three times earlier in his career. He also beat rugged Jack Chase and drew with Ed Booker. In 1943, he won two out of three against Chase. In 1944, Moore lost by a knockout to Booker and also dropped a decision to the great Charley Burley. 1945 was a good year for Archie as he lost only two of fourteen fights. He beat Clevelander Lloyd Marshall twice. He was stopped by another Clevelander, the outstanding Jimmy Bivins. He lost a decision to Holman Williams but kayoed Holman in a rematch.
By this time Archie was formidable enough to warrant a title shot but it would be seven long years before he was granted one. Along the way, Moore would beat Curtis Sheppard twice and Bert Lytell twice. He would beat Bivins four times in rematches. He would defeat Harold Johnson in three put of four contests. He also scored victories over Ted Lowry, Bob Satterfield, Phil Muscato, Alberto Lovell and Jimmy Slade. The only boxer who could handle Archie was Ezzard Charles. Ezz beat Moore three times. The last time by a spectacular eighth round knockout in Cleveland. Finally on December 17, 1952, presumably just after his 39th birthday, Archie met yet another Cleveland legend, Joey Maxim. With Maxim's world light heavyweight title on the line Archie won a persuading decision to become a champion at last.
As world champion the legacy of Archie Moore would flourish. He defeated Maxim twice in title rematches. He beat heavyweight Nino Valdes twice, Bob Baker and Bert Whitehurst. He would successfully defend his crown with knockouts over Harold Johnson and Bobo Olson. On September 21, 1955, Archie would get his first crack at the heavyweight crown when he met Rocky Marciano. In the second round Archie sent Marciano to the canvas. Rocky beat the count and lasted out the round. Slowly the tide turned in Marciano's favor. Rocky proved to be too strong for the gritty Moore who finally succumbed in round nine. He kayoed Yolande Pompey in a title defense and on November 30, 1956, he was matched with Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight championship that Marciano had vacated. Although Archie was given a good chance to win by experts the youthful Patterson was much too fast and stopped Moore in round five.
Archie went back to defending his light heavyweight crown stopping the highly regarded Tony Anthony in seven rounds. Moore continued to meet heavyweights in hope of securing one more shot at that title. Archie defeated Howard King twice, Roger Rischer, Willi Besmanoff and Charley Norkus before putting his title on the line. Moore's 1958 bout with Canada'sYvon Durelle secured Archie's place in fistic history. Repeatedly knocked down in the early rounds and then down again in the fifth, Moore refused to surrender. By the middle rounds Durelle began to tire. Archie came on to stop Durelle in the eleventh round to retain his title in a classic thriller. In their 1959 rematch Yvon was a lot less troublesome as he exited in round three. Moore did not defend his title at all in 1960 much to the dismay of the National Boxing Association who withdrew recognition of Archie as a champion on October 25th. Old foe Harold Johnson beat Jesse Bowdry to claim the vacant NBA title. Still recognized be New York State and the European Boxing Union Archie decisioned Giulio Rinaldi in his final title defense. On February 10, 1692, New York and the EBU stripped Archie of his crown. A feat no mere mortal could accomplish in the ring. Finally the ageless wonder began to slow down. Archie still had enough left in 1962 to draw the future protege Cassius Clay. Clay had won the light heavyweight Gold Medal at the 1960 Olympics and had trained briefly under Archie early in his pro career. The brash upstart overwhelmed the aging warrior as he had predicted in round four. Archie had no more illusions of becoming heavyweight champion.
Upon his retirement, Archie did some acting and he also became very involved in helping the youth of America. He started a program called "Any Boy Can" and used this as a vehicle to reach young people in a positive manner. Archie's book which is aptly titled "Any Boy Can" explains Archie's views on helping youth as well as Archie covering his life and boxing career.
When Ramos made his way from Mexico to the West Coast he quickly began meeting the best opposition available. In 1964 he lost a decision to Henry Clark and drew with Jory Orbillo. In 1965 he lost a rematch to Orbillo and drew with George Johnson. He finished the year losing by knockout to Lars Norling.
In 1966 Manuel began a win streak that would carry him to a world title shot. He knocked out Norling in a rematch and then stopped Archie Ray in eight. Next Manuel would outpoint faded ex-contender Eddie Machen. In 1967 Ramos halted James J. Woody in two and then on October 14th in Mexico City he faced ex-WBA Heavyweight champion Ernie Terrell. Manuel scored an upset ten round decision. Two victories in 1968 brought Manuel’s streak to fifteen strait and set up a title fight with “Smokin” Joe Frazier. The bout took place June 24th at Madison Square Garden. Joe held the New York State Heavyweight crown when he entered the ring and two rounds later he left with his crown intact. Joe overwhelmed Ramos in what would be Manuel’s only shot. Three months later Manuel was taken apart by George Chuvalo on five rounds.
Ramos began to rebuild his career in 1969 by beating Tony Doyle but Jack O’Halloran stopped him in his next bout. Manuel had seven bouts in 1970 and won only one of them. He lost to Chuck Wepner, Joe Bugner, Jimmy Richards and Joe “King” Roman. He drew with Ron Stander and was stopped in one round by Oscar “Ringo” Bonevena. Manuel had seven more bouts in 1971 and again won only one losing to Jurgen Blin, Jack Bodell, Elmo Henderson, Terry Daniels, Stander and Ron Lyle.
In 1973 Ramos was halted in four by Johnny Hudgins. Then in 1973 he lost to Luis Pires and Armando Zanini. In his last chance at the big time he faced Olympian Duane Bobick but was in seven rounds thus finishing him as a formidable heavyweight.
Even so, I'll tell you what really intrigues me as I look through the business plan Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing has distributed among those it hopes to raise capitalization from.
It's the company's representation of its relationship with ESPN, the self-proclaimed "Worldwide Leader in Sports". I don't know; maybe it's just a bunch of "CorporateSpeak", but the business plan - one of the chief instruments by which a potential investor would make an educated decision as to whether to put money into this company, and in effect, into boxing in general - makes a specific reference to ESPN at the very top of its list of what it refers to as "Strategic Management Alliances".
Maybe it's just me, but I come away from that wondering just what the hell that's supposed to mean.
And so perhaps more of an academic explanation might be in order, if you would be kind enough to indulge me -
In their book "The Power of Two", authors John K. Conlon and Melissa Giovagnoli explain four common reasons for the formation of alliances: "to become larger and dominate a market; to acquire expertise, technology, money, or other resources the organization lacks; to fend off an aggressive move by a competitor, becoming bigger and stronger and in a better position to deal with that competitor; and, to do a deal - to use combined resources to jump on a market bandwagon."
And Professors Yves Doz and Gary Hamel of Harvard University, who have written perhaps the definitive book on startegic alliances - "Alliance Advantage: The Art of Creating Value Through Partnering" - give three primary purposes for one company to develop an alliance of this type with another: CO-OPTION, in which, according to the authors, "firms with complementary goods to contribute are wooed, creating network economies in favor of the coalition......often the most painless way to neutralize potnetial foes is to bring them into one's own camp"; COSPECIALIZATION, in which the "partners" contribute distinctly different resources, skills, and assets to a project; and LEARNING AND INTERNALIZATION, where "skills can be learned from a partner, internalized, and exploited beyond the boundaries of the alliance itself".
Any way you slice it, the SRL-ESPN relationship, as described by the SRL Boxing itself, hardly shows properties of the typical "vendor-customer" dynamic we have come to expect from promoters who have tried to peddle shows to networks. And it certainly is not representative of the conditions that exist today in ESPN's dealings with promoters other than, say, SRL or Russell Peltz.
Rather, it can be characterized as more of a SYMBIOTIC union; one in which two distinct entities co-exist in a mutually-beneficial relationship with more or less a common goal.
With that in mind, our curiosity is piqued by one particularly interesting line from the SRL business plan, which states that ESPN2, as
"SRL Boxing's network/cable PARTNER, provides the distribution channel for SRL Boxing's entertainment".
For a minute, that kind of leaves you with the question of just who is working for WHO here, doesn't it?
Now, I could think of probably a hundred reasons why SRL Boxing might want to paint this sort of a picture to people who they want to raise capital from. But I am most curious as to what ESPN thinks of these kinds of representations.
Another thing I wouldn't mind knowing - does ESPN have such a "strategic alliance" with any other promoters (not including Peltz, who is also an employee)?
And when represented in this way, what kind of message is that supposed to send out to those fighters who are worthy and hopeful of exposure on "The Worldwide Leader in Sports", when they go about choosing which promoter to sign a long-term deal with?
Likewise, what message does that send to promoters who would like to think there is at least a modicum of fairness when they put time and effort into presenting a proposal of worthwhile boxing projects to ESPN, but don't have the benefit of such "symbiosis" to trade on?
Yes, we know ESPN has guaranteed SRL Boxing a show on the first Friday of every month, and may even give them some extra dates here and there, but does the relationship in fact extend well beyond that?
And is ESPN affording the SRL group more money to televise its shows than it is offering other promoters who are actually bringing something (and I feel very confident in saying this) superior to the table, in terms of talent, significance, and quality, at least as far as some of the non-Peltz shows is concerned?
Does ESPN realize that by creating a playing field that is slanted toward one or two (you always have to say "two" as long as Peltz is also involved) entities, that it will have the affect of disadvantaging the promoters that DO NOT have the benefit of a "strategic alliance" with the network?
And does this have any restraint of trade implications, if those "strategic allies" of ESPN choose to directly, and aggressively, leverage their priveleged position to sign fighters away from promoters who are their competitors, by highlighting the fact that those promoters are not "in business" with the network?
We have endeavored to ascertain the answers to these questions from ESPN, but thus far have not received any.
Of course, for the Bjorn Rebney-headed outfit, which had no experience in producing boxing promotions prior to launching its first show on the network, getting those shows is good for business - in more ways then one.
You see, SRL Boxing is actively engaged in recruiting investors who share the company's vision for how it will, in its own words, "change the face of boxing" and "tranform the sport". Contained in their pitch are statements that, to put it mildly, strain credulity, and give rise to questions that relate to issues that might, and maybe should, be a subject of boxing reform.
One of the first things that jumps out as you scan over the SRL Boxing group's business plan, which was introduced in the fall of 2001, is the constant reference to the company's "vertical integration"; clearly, this idea of the business model is what SRL hopes to use as its "unique selling proposition" with potential investors.
Of course, that's a euphemism. In the language of boxing, "vertical integration" means that the umbrella entity of SRL Boxing intends to perform both management and promotional functions for the same fighters simultaneously. Indeed, on Page 5 of the business plan, right there in the Executive Summary, the company states that it will accomplish its objectives by:
"REPRESENTING and developing talent, creating superstars, PRODUCING exciting and entertaining live events, and by implementing innovative marketing and PROMOTIONAL elements never before seen in the sport."
It's a little alarming that this model is indeed a major component of their business strategy.
That's because fundamentally, that particular concept, if taken literally (and there's no reason why it shouldn't be), might very well be unlawful, not just as it relates to the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, but also the rules and regulations of every state athletic commission I know of.
And one can't help but wonder how ethical, or practical, it is to be promoting this concept to potential investors when, in the end, it might not reach maturity before regulators, or attorneys general, brought it to a screeching halt.
After all, it's pretty much spelled out in Section 5 of the Ali Act, which, in the area addressing "Conflict of Interest", reads:
"It is unlawful for a promoter to have a direct or indirect financial interest in the management of a boxer",
"It is unlawful for a manager to have a direct or indirect financial interest in the promotion of a boxer; or to be employed by or receive compensation or other benefits from a promoter, except for amounts received as consideration under the manager's contract with the boxer."
Well, quite obviously, we know that SRL Boxing is promoting boxing shows; in fact, in case you're not aware, the company has a contract (reputed to be three years in length) with ESPN, by which it will produce a boxing show for the network on the first Friday night of each month. This coming Friday night, for example, the network will be in Scottsdale, Ariz. to televise an SRL-promoted event which has been labeled "Rumble at Rawhide".
According to their presentation to investors, SRL Boxing intends to step up its promotional activities greatly over the course of time; these activities include several pay-per-view boxing shows over the next few years, and in point of fact, the company has allocated the bulk of its projected revenues during that period to those projects.
At the same time, however, SRL plans to take an unusually proprietary philosophy with regard to the talent in its "stable"; this approach is documented vividly in a number of places, namely on Page 22 of the business plan, in the "Branding/Product Strategy":
"OWNING the talent and CONTROLLING the marketing are key factors to the ensured success of the plan"
; and on Page 23, under the sub-title "Development Program":
"Each new client is educated to a series of concepts that will directly impact their professional life: marketing, publicity, public relations, advertising, endorsements, taxes, money management, long-term career planning, matchmaking, public interaction and training, among other key success vehicles."
Now, if all that "ownership" and involvement doesn't constitute management - in whole or at least in part - of a fighter, what does?
I mean, all of that interest in a fighter might sound like a wonderful plan, but there is scarcely a major promoter on the face of this earth who gets involved to that all-encompassing degree with one of his charges.
And if one did, it should certainly elicit some concern.
It's never been much of a secret that the aforementioned parts of the Ali Act were aimed at Don King, and in particular, the relationship between his promotional company and his son Carl, who has been positioned as manager of some DKP fighters. In fact, this relationship has been subject matter for just about every congressional hearing held on boxing in the past 15 years or so.
We're certainly not looking to absolve King, or anyone else, of anything here, but would it hurt people, once in a while, to look elsewhere for violations of that part of the Ali Act? Would it not be appropriate to address those who may be expressing an intent to violate it? And doesn't it warrant an exploration into some of SRL Boxing's existing relationships?
Just because Sugar Ray Leonard may project a "cleaner" public image than, say a Don King, does that mean the law should be applied with any less equity, or not at all?
We've had Senate hearings on boxing for the last two years, two pieces of legislation that are already in effect, two more that are going to be voted on, cries from nearly every well-meaning corner of the sport for uniform rules and regulations, consistent medical standards, reciprocal suspensions, a national boxing commission, and fighters' unions. And as you can see, we're in the midst of a special report on this website that has turned into more of an e-book, likely to go to as many as 75 installments (up from the original estimate of 40), which we certainly hope will have some kind of positive effect.
Yet one guy, in one night, can do more for the sport in the eyes of the general public than all of that stuff combined.
That's right - it's none other than Mike Tyson.
You know, most of the people who have written about Tyson's upcoming fight with Lennox Lewis have engaged in a kind of reverse logic; that is, they feel that the best thing that could possibly happen would be for the heavyweight champion of the world to slap the volatile challenger into oblivion, as if that is going to turn the "monster" away for good, and therefore save boxing.
And while I would concede that Tyson has left plenty of scars on the image of the game, they're not necessarily going to go away with his defeat, as ignominious as it might turn out. And chances are, Tyson himself won't go away either.
I don't know how much goodwill it's going to create for boxing if Tyson gets embarrassed, because frankly, I don't think Lewis (or anyone else, for that matter) possesses a high enough profile to carry the torch for the sport.
But Tyson does. Like it or not, right now, he IS boxing. He's bigger than the sport; and the only fighter in the world who truly transcends it, insofar as awareness of him creeps into every crevice of society, not just here in America but around the world. Despite Lewis' credentials, Tyson has carried this upcoming promotion almost completely on his own, as he does EVERY promotion. Without him, there IS no promotion. He's so big, in fact, that he dominated the Senate hearing on boxing two weeks ago, though I'm not sure anyone testifying at the hearing really intended for that to happen.
There is no athlete in the world who has more of an impact on his sport than Mike Tyson has on his.
Please understand - I'm not zeroing in on the fact that it would be best for boxing, from a financial point of view, if Tyson won the fight. That much may indeed be true, because let's face it - the presence of Iron Mike at the top of the heap has a ripple effect on everything, from the general health of the pay-per-view industry, all the way down to the traffic generated on websites like this one (the numbers don't lie - EVERYBODY'S numbers rise when a Tyson fight is upcoming).
But I'm more concerned with the aesthetics here. After all, I'm writing a series on boxing REFORM. And part of that formula has to take into account the public's perception of the sport, which may vary a little from demographic group to demographic group, but in general has been dwindling for quite some time.
So for purposes of my own angle, I'm saying that by keeping his nose clean from now until Saturday, then putting forth an honest, clean, world-class effort - regardless of whether he wins or loses - in his fight with Lewis, Tyson will go a long way toward re-establishing some credibility for an ailing sport.
In fact, not only can a well-behaved, competitive, professional Tyson be a great help in rehabilitating the image of boxing, I submit that, at least for the time being, ONLY he can do it. That is because the vast majority of people who are going to buy this fight on pay-per-view, and those who have contemplated it seriously but may be taking a pass just because Tyson is involved, are NOT necessarily boxing fans; everyone knows if the business relied on ardent boxing fans alone it would die on PPV. Hell, they may not even be sports fans. But they are people who MIGHT BECOME boxing fans, or at least ADMIRERS OF boxing, with the right impetus.
And they have one thing in common - they all know Mike Tyson, and they're all interested in him to some degree.
And I don't buy the "car crash" theory many people have come up with as it relates to fans, not entirely anyway. I don't think most people will be sitting in their living rooms, hoping to witness the next bizarre episode in what has become the most bizarre saga in sport. I certainly don't think anyone is paying between $400-$2000 to be at the Pyramid Arena so they can see Tyson try to break Lewis' arm in the first three rounds and get disqualified. I feel, given the choice, they would much rather see a GREAT FIGHT, don't you?
I mean, don't you think somebody would rather see some great action, with a feeling that he's gotten his money's worth, than walk away from the whole thing with the attitude that he had been cheated because of an indecisive ending, a foul, or a stinker of a fight?
Another benefit that would come out of a positive Tyson performance is that it would go a long way toward focusing the right people on the reform issues that have genuine, long-lasting effects on the sport. I've said on more than one occasion that those parties who have chosen to use Mike Tyson as an example of why we need a national commission (namely, the ABC and the politicians in Washington) have completely missed the point, and as a result are doing a disservice to the general reform movement while more important issues get ignored.
Maybe all this is just wishful thinking, but perhaps if Tyson behaved and performed in such a way that they didn't have him to kick around any more, the ABC, for example, would have the good sense to move on to something a little more critical, like getting dangerous commissioners such as Kentucky's Jack Kerns, who puts fighters' lives at risk through his ignorance of Federal fighter safety laws, off its Board of Directors.
If Tyson's a good boy, he'll give them one less red herring with which to deflect attention away from that issue.
Not that he's thinking about that right now. But I certainly hope he has the presence of mind to realize that he's carrying an awesome responsibility into the ring on Saturday night in Memphis. And that he will do his best to fulfill it.
After all, this is still his business. And still his sport.
And when all is said and done, mark my words - being great, both inside the ring and out - will be GOOD for business.
I don't think it's absurd to ask that the manager have certain qualifications in order to be granted the privilege of being in that kind of position.
There is a licensing process that takes place in each and every boxing jurisdiction, and which would certainly take place on a national level should boxing fall under Federal regulation. Perhaps a manager's "test" should be part of that process.
No one's asking that such a test be designed to keep people OUT of the business. Instead, what we'd be looking for is to facilitate a more effective orientation for those who get IN the business. The manager's exam would have that effect.
What should such an exam consist of?
* MULTIPLE-CHOICE TEST ON STATE RULES AND REGULATIONS -- You don't want to have managers running into problems along the way because they don't know the rules in their own state with regard to limits on managerial contracts, rights of the promoter, suspensions, etc. And the system only gets weakened if the fighter winds up being a victim of a "technicality" along the way. At the very least, you want to have the manager aware of the rules that govern boxing in the jurisdiction where he is applying for a license, and any national laws or rules that would apply as well. Hey - even if it's an "open-book" test, so to speak, at least they've taken the time to look the rules up and ascertain the answers.
* SHORT ANSWER SECTION -- Stuff like - What does the "WBC" stand for (not morally, in terms of an acronym)? What does a cutman do? What is a purse bid? What does it mean to give up options? These are the kind of questions you may want to ask when trying to determine the prospective manager's overall knowledge of the boxing industry.
* SHORT ANSWERS - NON-BOXING -- I would think the manager could answer some simple questions about 1099 forms, expense reports, balancing a checkbook, things of that nature. Nothing too "taxing", if you pardon the pun. But if he's going to have any contact at all with a fighter's finances, you want to know he's somewhat literate with these things.
* ESSAY -- That's right, class. Why shouldn't the manager have to write, say, a 100-word statement as to what his overall philosophy about management is, and what his general plan is for the fighters he will wind up managing, not just now, but in the future? How will he approach the personal and professional development of the young man (or woman) who is in his charge, and how will he help the fighter deal with life aside from, and after, boxing? You can get a pretty good idea about the general attitude of a manager by reading his statement, especially if he's the one who actually wrote it.
Naturally, the "test", once taken, will be valid throughout all boxing jurisdictions across the United States; it's not practical for the manager to continue to repeat the test over and over from state to state.
But not only will this give us a barometer as to what level of aptitude the fledgling manager has when entering the boxing business, it may also serve as "preventive medicine", so to speak, for many of the disputes, misinterpretations, and blunders that regularly get managers into hot water in the first place.
I believe that only the fighters' corners should be given the scores at the end of each round.
My reasoning is simple: I think when we are talking about something that can affect a fighter's career and his livelihood, he should never have to be penalized in those instances of poor scoring on the part of ringside officials.
Easy examples - let's say Lennox Lewis thinks he is ahead by four or five points - and has every reason to believe as much - going into the last round of his fight with Evander Holyfield. On that basis, because he doesn't want to take any unnecessary risks, he decides to coast through the 12th and plays it "safety first". That's understandable, given the circumstances. So he gives up the round to Holyfield, who wins the 12th simply on the basis of being more active. Well, when the decision comes down, Lewis finds out that he was wrong; that Holyfield was actually ahead on two scorecards, and that coasting in the final round has led to defeat.
No fighter deserves to go through that, because it isn't their fault. Fighters put a lot of time and sweat into the process, and so do their people. And if an unjust situation like this can be avoided, it should be. Fighters are entitled to know where they stand as a fight progresses; surprises due to ineptitude in judging should not be a part of the formula they have to deal with.
I would be in favor of the corners being apprised of the scores after each round. They can then make the decision as to whether to pass this information on to the fighter. Basically they will do whatever it is they feel will be appropriate. They may do nothing with the information. But at least they will have it at their disposal.
I went on a radio show once and introduced this idea to a fellow panelist, who is currently a boxing manager and trainer. He told me what he thought were a few problems with it. And I'll pass them on to you, along with my response:
1) THAT THERE WOULD BE ARGUMENTS BETWEEN ROUNDS IF A CORNER DISAGREED WITH THE SCORING. No doubt there will be times when a corner will disagree with the way a round is scored. And some of the more animated cornermen might endeavor to argue with somebody over it. But really, the way to curtail this is the same way you would deal with a coach in the NBA who argued too strenuously about a call. The commission decides to take charge and assess a "technical". In this case, the technical would result in taking points away from the fighter. And if it persists, the cornerman could be sent back to the dressing room. You'd see very few "incidents" this way.
2) THAT IN DISTANCE FIGHTS, THE CROWD WOULD SEE ONE CORNER CELEBRATING, AND THAT WOULD TAKE AWAY THE "DRAMA" WE REFERRED TO IN OUR LAST INSTALLMENT. Yes, maybe so, although sometimes the crowd might not pick it up. Perhaps there could be adjustments made, where the scores are given until the eighth round of a ten-round fight, or the tenth round of a title fight, so there still is an element of suspense surrounding the decision.
3) THAT A CORNER MAY USE THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SCORES TO MANIPULATE CIRCUMSTANCES IN THE FIGHT. And of course, we're talking about a well-known incident involving Lou Duva, where he knew his fighter, Johnny Bumphus, was ahead on the cards but was cut and perhaps getting ready to lose the upper hand against Marlon Starling. There just happened to be open scoring in this particular bout, so instead of closing the cut, Duva left it alone and let it open up more, knowing that under the rules, if the fight had to be stopped, his man was in good shape because he was ahead. And of course, that's exactly what happened. People fear this happening more and more with open scoring. And it will, unless some steps are taking in the commission rules to prevent abuse in these cases. Commissions employ inspectors in the corners. They should put them to work. If a circumstance similar to the Bumphus-Starling incident exists, and the cornerman is not making every effort to close the cut, the inspector should have the latitude to report this to the referee, doctor, and commissioners. Points can be taken away, and/or disqualifications can be ruled. Suspensions should be in order for any cornerman who does make good faith effort to keep his fighter as fit as possible by closing cuts when the necessity arises.
4) THAT IF A FIGHTER KNOWS HE'S WAY AHEAD, HE'LL JUST RUN AROUND AT THE END, MAKING FOR BORING FINISHES. Yes. But isn't this what happens 49 times out of 50, anyway? And if we made the adjustment we touched upon in #2 above, the effect would be minimized to some extent. Besides, when a fighter gets TOO careful, and stops trying, he sometimes falls into danger of being tagged.
5) THAT HE (MY FELLOW PANELIST) DIDN'T REALLY WANT TO KNOW THE SCORES AFTER EACH ROUND, BECAUSE IT WOULD JUST CONFUSE HIM IN HIS STRATEGIZING. Okay, this one I just can't take seriously. I know a little something about working in a corner, and I can tell you if a fighter's career is in my charge, I have a responsibility to give that fighter the best chance possible to win a fight. I don't want to get beat because I or my fellow cornerman miscalculated what we thought the scoring was going to be coming into the later rounds. I want all the information at my disposal that I can possibly get, and I would imagine any responsible cornerman would feel the same way.
I've got plenty of cornermen in my audience. Guys - let me know what YOU think.
Often, a promoter or manager will bring it up as a remedy, and only when one of his fighters winds up on the short end of one of these verdicts.
At this convenient point, he is a strong advocate of "boxing reform".
Well, I don't know that from that perspective, open scoring doesn't fall into the category of what I call "bulls**t boxing reform" - meaning that it's a great facade for creating the impression that you're in favor of sweeping changes, while in reality there's only a self-serving motive at work.
The thing is, whether open scoring an effective practice to implement or not, it doesn't really doesn't make any impact on the general state of boxing or the legitimacy (or lack of it) that the sport is going to have in the eyes of the public. Or at least it shouldn't.
The most widely proposed form of open scoring involves announcing the officials' scores at the end of each round, so as to keep the crowd abreast of how the scores are unfolding as the fight progresses, as if it is going to bring about more "honesty" in scoring to have the cards brought out into the open while they are, in effect, a work in progress.
This implication brings to mind a major question, though - if you think having the scores announced, whether it be round-by-round or even periodically, is going to affect the way judges score the fights, you must at the same time have to concede that the judges' scoring will be affected in some way by outside factors.
Then why bring those outside factors into play? Remember, what you're looking for in terms of performance from the judges is total objectivity and independence of mind. When you imply that announcing their scores at the end of each round is going to affect their scores in any way is to admit that some of that independence, some of that objectivity, is going to be lost.
And there is no question it will be. Announcing scores at the end of each round, or at three or four-round intervals, is going to have one overriding effect on the judges - it will make them very consciously aware of what their colleagues are doing, relative to what THEY are doing. And this will have a sub-conscious effect. If a judge were to find out his or her scores are vastly different than the other two, there might be a natural tendency to want to "balance" things out rather than to run the risk of seeming inept, or worse yet, being inept.
You're not likely to find a judge who would admit to that, either on or off the record, but it will be there. It's human nature. We're not talking about every judge, of course. It will happen more often with the less experienced judges, who are less secure in their positions, but in general, it is a situation that will exist.
The inherent strength in the way fights are judged today is that these officials are on different sides of the ring, and none of them knows what the other is scoring. Open scoring would take that positive aspect away.
And what about fights which take place in a fighter's hometown or home country? Judges, whether local or imported from other areas, are going to be a little self-conscious about their scoring as it is, bad enough without introducing the new element of round-by-round announcements of scores to incite the crowd if the local boy isn't ahead.
The other angle, which I can't really defend with pure logic, is that I just think it's better when the crowd is kept in a little bit of suspense waiting for a decision to be announced. To me, that is one of the things that distinguishes boxing from other sports, and gives it a little extra charm. To take that away would be to take some of the game's drama away.
So here are some reflections on the hearing and what was said:
First of all, it wasn't really a COMMITTEE. For that matter, it wasn't really a sub-committee. Rather, it was more or less just Senator John McCain and Senator Frank Dorgan who compiled the Senate side of things here. And McCain arrived fashionably late with a grand entrance.................I don't know if Roy Jones had very much to contribute coming into the proceeding, but this multi-millionaire did indeed know how to portray himself as a "victim", didn't he? All I've got to say to him is - why complain about not being able to get a show on HBO to promote some of your fighters? If you were negotiating a deal with the network, in which it would commit to you for a certain number of fights, why didn't you use your leverage as a major fighter and attraction to include a few of your own independent promotions as part of your deal? There's really no one but yourself to blame there........Incidentally, about Jones - a funny thing happened when I read his pre-submitted written testimony. Turns out it's, for the most part, extracted from the same testimony his lawyer, Fred Levin, gave before the committee a couple of years ago..............Tim Lueckenhoff, president of the ABC, mentioned that he is going to endeavor to have officials trained as part of the organization's next convention. I certainly hope Jack Kerns and his Kentucky staff aren't among the instructors.............Lueckenhoff also recommended that promoters be compelled to provide collateral or a letter of credit in conjunction with meeting their obligations as per every show. I certainly hope that gets attention - I could tell you a few stories (and if we have the time, we certainly will) where a letter of credit on the part of a promoter would have prevented eventual, and absolute, bedlam and confusion................Another Lueckenhoff statement, echoed by others - every state should be empowered to appoint its own officials for a championship fight, so as to offset the damage that can be caused by any undue "influence" sanctioning body may exert over its own appointed officials. I like the spirit of this, but in practice it may not work so well. I'll elaborate in a separate story down the line................
I noticed McCain fell into that "eight divisions" nonsense, as did Bert Sugar, to an extent. As we already explained in
, the expanded division format makes plenty of sense, both from the standpoint of safety and simple reality. McCain's impression seems to be that USA Today is attempting to "bring credibility" back to the ratings by listing just eight divisions. I think he would get a slightly different answer if he just asked Dan Rafael about it..............The problem is that people don't RECOGNIZE the problem - they confuse the proliferation of sanctioning organizations with an over-saturation of weight divisions................
Tim Lueckenhoff complained that there have been major problems with the enforcement of the Ali Act, because when he contacted three different attorneys general with regard to various violations of the Act, he got no response in particular. Why? "Because I don't think there's any awareness of the Ali Act", or words to that effect, was Lueckenhoff's answer. Well, look - the Professional Boxer Safety Act, as well as the Ali Act, empowers the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) to do certain things. One of those things is to send commissioners from one state into another state that may not have a boxing commission (a subject we're also going to be covering at length). But the point is, I'm going to venture to say that those people who crafted, then voted on, the Ali legislation don't have the time to get on the phone with every attorney general's office and explains the ramifications of the bill to them. But those people with the ABC, who have been vested with at least SOME responsibility here, DO. So if there isn't any awareness of the Ali Act, whose fault is it really?
Lou DiBella made a good point when he mentioned that the roles of manager and promoter are a whole lot different than they used to be. There's no question that a promoter has a different function than he did, say, 30 years ago, and that the manager has more or less been phased out of the equation, with a few exceptions, yet, the boxing laws seem to be written with a somewhat distorted notion of what those particular entities are doing. However, if you were to recognize what the REAL roles of the manager and promoter are, you'd actually have to sit down and re-write all the existing Federal laws having to do with boxing, including the prospective legislation McCain's committee is trying to push through. And as we know by now, that's more trouble than these guys are probably willing to undertake............
Far too much of the limited time was spent touching upon Bruce "The Mouse" Strauss, judges' decisions that didn't quite please the Senators, and what a bad guy Mike Tyson is. And not ONE WORD about the lawbreakers on the Kentucky Athletic Commission.
Another theme that seemed to be maintained throughout - that the promoter pays the officials. In most jurisdictions in this country, the promoter doesn't pay the officials, any more than the network televising an event directly pays the fighters. In television, the network pays a promoter, who in turn, pays the fighters. As far as commissions or sanctioning bodies go, they collect their fees according to whatever schedule they've established, then from what they've collected, they pay the officials. Pretty much as simple as that. As for the hotels, the trips, the "favors" - well, that's another story - and another installment...................
Take a look through the record books. You'll probably find plenty of situations where a fighter who is stopped in one fight comes back and fights less than 35 days later, or a fighter who has been knocked out (60-day suspension) has come back in 65 days or less. You don't think he just rolled out of bed and stepped into the ring for those fights, without any preparation?
No, of course not. A fighter who is called for a fight and accepts it is not going to be sitting at home waiting for that suspension to be lifted. He is going to be in the gym, working out, and in many cases, going through sparring sessions. If the purpose of the commission's suspension is to prohibit any physical contact that may be detrimental to the fighter's health during such suspension period, isn't there something in this picture that doesn't make a whole lot of sense?
You don't have to be a doctor to know that sparring can obviously create certain head trauma that can be harmful for the fighter, and which in fact can aggravate any injury that already exists. And if you think headgear effectively prevents it, think again. In truth, this is a SERIOUS safety issue that has very rarely been explored, and is not likely to be addressed unless some people step forward and speak up.
It can't be stressed strongly enough that fighters need to be expressly prohibited from engaging in any kind of sparring activity during their suspension period. And maybe even more importantly, trainers should be forbidden from putting suspended fighters into sparring sessions.
For this reason, gyms and the people who are responsible for them, need to be subject to some kind of regulation by boxing authorities, whether they be local, regional, or national.
And gyms should be required to have proper emergency equipment installed, along with someone on hand at all times who has a working knowledge of that equipment, not to mention first aid and CPR, when sparring sessions are underway. At least SOME of the precautionary apparatus that you see in an actual fight should be present.
I don't care what kind of gym it is or where it is - adherence to specified safety guidelines should be mandatory. After all, since fighters may spend 40 days or more in a gym for every day they spend in an "actual" fight, doesn't this kind of policy make sense?
We're well aware that there's a logistical problem in enforcing any kind of regulation. Admittedly, representatives of boxing commissions can not be expected to monitor all gym activity. And we are not suggesting that they do. But spot-checks certainly can be made, and whistle-blowers should be given protection.
To offset the fact that the law is hard to enforce, but recognizing that transgressions could have very serious health consequences, you're going to need a strong deterrent. Therefore, the penalties for an infraction should be VERY severe - up to a one-year suspension of license, fines, and possible jail time for those parties who are determined to have been responsible.
And that's not the only matter that deserves attention as far as boxing gyms is concerned. Here are some others:
For example, there is nothing to prevent an amateur with virtually no experience from getting into the ring with a seasoned professional in a sparring session. Of course, in an encounter like this, the amount of actual punishment doled out is entirely up to the more experienced fighter's discretion. The potential for health risk is there. The amateur could get hurt - badly. The trainer's behavior in this regard should be subject to ongoing review.
And think about the concept of sparring itself. Naturally, sparring is something which is considered necessary for all fighters in preparation for a bout. No argument there. But let's face it - when a fighter is getting hit in the head everyday, head trauma is suffered. And, as we mentioned, the headgear worn during the sparring sessions does very little to prevent this from happening.
Something else to think about - if a fighter trains six weeks for a ten-round fight, and finds himself sparring one hundred rounds for that fight, that is, at least in theory, the equivalent of fighting ten fights, with actual contact; perhaps not as much punishment being absorbed as in an actual fight, but punishment nonetheless. And some fighters have sparred on back-to-back days - something that can potentially bring about harmful long-term effects. Doesn't this kind of activity, in and of itself, warrant some kind of regulatory oversight, with dire consequences for those who don't comply?
And there is a hidden problem that has never been addressed - obviously a trainer is going to look out for the best interests of his own fighter during a sparring or workout session. But what about the other fighter? You see, in an actual fight, there at least is a referee present, to look out for the welfare of a fighter from a safety perspective. Such a person doesn't necessarily exist in the sparring atmosphere.
As a result, everyone should take great care in order to operate responsibly.