“Sue everybody.” – Jerky Boys
We live in a litigious society. Spoofing this characteristic, Jerky Boys character Sol Rosenberg called a lawyer because he wanted to sue his co-workers for hurting his feelings. The attorney tried to explain that he probably didn’t have much of a case. Rosenberg replied that he would then sue the lawyer. The stunned counsel asked why he would be sued when he hadn’t done anything wrong. Rosenberg declared “sue everybody.” It’s a favorite line of many Jerky Boys fans.
Lately, the sweet science has resembled that skit. Fighters have been suing each other to get fights and to get out of fights. Boxers and promoters sue each other all of the time. And just recently John Ruiz announced he is suing James Toney for $10 million because Toney cheated by taking steroids prior to their bout.
Those of you who have read my work before know that I am no John Ruiz fan. In fact, while I am supposed to be unbiased, I root against him every fight – just so I won’t have to watch him the next time. I didn’t jump on the anti-Ruiz bandwagon; I've been driving that sucker for years.
However, I found myself applauding his latest move (which surprisingly didn’t entail grabbing and clutching someone). World-class boxers take big blows all of the time. It’s another day at the office for them. But if they can be hit where it really hurts – in the wallet, perhaps boxing will be able to nip a steroid problem in the bud. The other major sports have strengthened their policies, but not really to the point where a top athlete will pay a heavy toll. If James Toney all of a sudden gets slapped with even a $1 million judgment, I would bet that other boxers who are considering juicing would dismiss the idea faster than a Roy Jones monologue.
Let’s assume for a moment that Ruiz’s claim is spot on and that the steroids were the big difference in James Toney’s performance that evening. Perhaps if Toney had not taken the stuff, Ruiz gives the performance of his life and scores a spectacular knockout. One could argue that even the haters like me might be singing a different tune and that Ruiz would be in line for a $10 million payday against the winner of Klitschko-Rahman.
It’s somewhat unlikely that the scenario described above would have taken place, but we can’t be certain. The only thing we do know for sure is that Ruiz lost a fight in which his opponent cheated. In no other sport does an athlete’s earning power for his next contest rely so heavily on his latest performance. Sure, golfers, tennis players or even racecar drivers could lose out on a lot of prize money if they were cheated out of winning. But their earning power in the next tournament or race will not be impacted one iota. Ask Owen Beck or Jameel McCline if their opportunities to earn big paychecks were affected by their last bouts.
Could boxing end up being a role model for other sports in halting the use of steroids? Probably not. Chances are every pitcher who Rafael Palmeiro homered off of won’t haul the shamed slugger into court and try to show how their falsely inflated E.R.A. caused them to sign a smaller contract. But wouldn’t it be great if they did? Here’s one fight in which I’m cheering for John Ruiz.
• Keep an eye on heavyweight prospect Sultan Ibragimov. He takes a big step up in class on Dec. 15 when he fights Lance “Mount” Whitaker. Mount isn’t what he used to be, but he’s big and can bang. This will be a great test for Ibragimov who will look like a middleweight compared to Whitaker. If this Olympic silver medalist can get by Whitaker, I believe he can make some serious noise in the division.
• I’ve barely heard anything regarding Zahir Raheem since he beat Erik Morales. Here’s hoping he can get the big money fights he deserves.
• I applaud anyone who tries something novel in boxing to create excitement and draw new fans. That being said, the World Cup between Mexico and Thailand just didn’t work for me.
Until next time, obey my commands and protect yourself at all times.