I love boxing, I really do, and that’s why it pains me so much when I have to “just say no.”
Such is the case this weekend as Showtime tries to tempt me once more as the network asks me to dip a paw into my pocket to see if I have enough spare change to pay and watch several failed heavyweights Friday night. It turns out I don’t.
Truth be told, it’s not about the money. $29.95 is a palatable price to watch a decent pay-per-view card. But the cast of characters that make up the “Heavyweight Heat” event just don’t warrant the price and at some point one has to wonder whether the bare minimum is being met when networks ask for our hard-earned money.
The names Shannon Briggs, Ray Mercer and Jameel McCline are poster boys for heavyweights who never quite made it big and hardly inspire one to fork over cash to watch them fight. While Briggs vs. Mercer is an intriguing fight, it would be a much more interesting bout if the loser promised to stop boxing. Otherwise this is just another crossroads bout between two fighters who never found their way. Each is famous for the fights they have lost, and that is hardly a selling point when it comes to PPV.
Jameel McCline has at least been active, but consecutive losses to Calvin Brock and Chris Byrd suggest that, if not for a shock win over super-hyped Michael Grant, McCline may never have truly been ready for the “Big Time.” On this night he faces Steve “Storm” Pannell and his glossy 34-8 (28 KOs) record. Pannell has done battle mostly in Nashville, has lost five of his past six fights, and never managed to make it out of the third round in any of those five defeats. In his eight career losses he was knocked out in less than four rounds. On Friday night he will have lost nine fights and his KO string will remain perfect.
Other bouts coming from Hollywood, Florida include Juan Arango against Andre Eason in a pseudo title fight (apparently the WBC Latin American junior welterweight title is up for grabs) and cruiserweights O’Neill Bell and Sebastian Rothman will also trade blows. Bell is a legitimate champion, despite his controversial decision victory over Dale Brown to claim the IBF belt, but his opponent Rothman is best described as an Israeli cruiserweight living in South Africa – which is just another way to say “unknown.” He lost his only two fights of 2004 – a TKO 9 loss to Carl Thompson followed by a decision setback against Steve Cunningham – but one win in February of this year has him contending for a major title.
The above are hardly the caliber of bouts that pay-per-view was intended to be, and considering the free alternatives on Friday night – ESPN, Telefutura and Telemundo all have major fights being televised – who is going to pay to feel the Heavyweight Heat?
It gets worse on the PPV front though.
Later this year, in October, we are going to be fed something called “Ann versus Man” as women’s super middleweight fighter Ann Wolfe will trade blows with a male boxer going by the name of Bo Skipper. To help sell us on the idea that we should be jumping on the phone to order this nonsense, the recent press quotes had Skipper offering little more than“All I am going to say is I am not going to be the first man to lose to a woman.” Wow, now I’m really excited.
“Brown Sugar” Wolfe heated things up suggesting that “With all due respect to Bo Skipper, that should be Leila Ali (and not Bo Skipper)” who she faces on the 15th of October in Biloxi, Mississippi. So it seems that these two really even don’t care that they are fighting each other, yet we are supposed to pay to view it. Not bloody likely.
Many boxing fans may be at least familiar with Ann Wolfe – she has defeated gigantic Vonda Ward by a thunderous first round knockout and twice beat durable Valerie Mahfood – but getting the scoop on Skipper leaves little to get excited about as far as actual boxing is concerned. Boasting a professional record of 11-3-2 (7 KOs), Skipper – who will be 36 when the fight takes place, compared to Wolfe’s 34 years of age – has lost his past two bouts and hasn’t been in the ring since November of last year. He has been knocked out in all three career losses, having fought exclusively in Mississippi. Skipper has won 13 bouts against 12 different people (he beat 2-20 Paul Blount twice by knockout, each time in the second round), but managed to win those 13 fights without beating anyone with a winning record. The combined pro record of the fighters Bo Skipper has defeated in a boxing ring (as best as we can determine) is 16-94.
All I have to say is, there better be one heck of an undercard to support this spectacle. The reality is I don’t think I would be watching Wolfe versus Skipper even if it were free. And as I said, I love boxing. The promotion leading up to the fight seems to accept the fact that you the customer don’t even know who Bo Skipper is, and that you don’t care, but they hope that you are going to pay anyway. The fight is being billed “Ann versus Man,”; Bo Skipper isn’t even mentioned.
I am a rather hardcore boxing fan, but I will confess to not knowing who Sebastian Rothman, Steve Pannell and Bo Skipper are. After these two pay-per-view events pass us by, I still won’t.