On the June 30 edition of Jim Lampley’s “The Fight Game” on HBO, boxing’s most seasoned voice closed with a Keith Olbermann-esque commentary which took rival Showtime to task.
“Now to add our two cents to the story that gave boxing fodder to TMZ and its imitators these past few weeks. The Brooklyn battle between Paulie Malignaggi and Adrien Broner was a pretty good fight, made entertaining by Malignaggi’s spirited effort to defend his title and the chance to see how Broner would fare in his twelve pound jump from lightweight to welterweight. But hard as we tried to see the humor and intrigue in the tabloid style buildup to the event, the relentless back and forth about which fighter was now sharing sexual calisthenics with someone named Jessica and what that meant to them, we just couldn’t manage it. An excerpt from the sometimes erudite sports website Grantland says it plainly:
‘As the promotion for his fight against Paulie Malignaggi revved itself up, Broner’s public personna kept getting dumber….. Just know both fighters found it appropriate to promote a fight with claims of domestic violence and sexual degradation, and the networks and promotional companies that tacitly condoned it should be ashamed.’
“Fight promotions are by nature theatrical. But in every such enterprise there is a tipping point, and it’s my opinion we saw it last week. It’s a given that fighters in the heat of developing conflict with each other might go off the rails from time to time. It isn’t necessarily equally inevitable that the media and promotional culture surrounding the sport must go right off the rails with them. Some things can and should be usefully ignored in favor of the real grist of the fight game. Did Broner’s power travel effectively up to the new weight class? Did Malignaggi really come close enough to merit consideration for a rematch? Those are the primary questions emerging from last Saturday night in Brooklyn, not which of the two winds up dealing with an obviously misguided young woman who wanted and got her fifteen minutes of fame.”
The show did a good job of mixing journalistic depth, as when Lampley grilled Andre Ward on his attempt to sever promotional ties with longtime promoter Dan Goossen, and spirited opinion, as when Lampley brought on Max Kellerman to debate their respective pound for pound lists. And it ended on a surprisingly direct, and somewhat controversial, note. Readers, check out the episode when you get a chance and weigh in, in our Forum to share your thoughts on Lampley’s message.