A phrase has popped inside my head a few times over the last couple weeks, and I've shared it on social media, because it appealed to me.
“Just because you CAN it doesn't mean you SHOULD.”
Gosh, I think if that statement were taken in, and adhered to, a lot of stupid things people do wouldn't get done. And by stupid, I more so probably mean “selfish.” I found myself thinking that phrase in the leadup to the Miguel Cotto-Daniel Geale fight on June 6, because Cotto was asking Geale to make 157, to carve and starve, and Geale was agreeing to it. Now, I get the validity of the move on Cotto's part…but I don't agree with the practice. That goes for him, and, really anyone. ESPECIALLY in a title fight, not having both folks adhere to the customary max of the weight class seems excessively nit-picky and like gaming the system…because one can.
It doesn't mean one should…And many, many fans have been turned off by it, and Cotto has a new rep as a “diva” in some circles, and that's a shame, because his legacy shouldn't be besmirched by that perception.
Jim Lampley, who enters the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday, touched on the subject, most eloquently, on the Tuesday night edition of his “The Fight Game,” on HBO. Here is his statment on the carve and starve catchweight issue:
CLOSING COMMENTARY FROM THE FIGHT GAME WITH JIM LAMPLEY
(June 9th edition)
“We'll close now by circling back to Cotto vs. Geale. The big subplot going in was weight, as Cotto intelligently used his enormous bargaining power to force Geale into a catch weight. 157 pounds instead of the middleweight limit of 160.
“The effect was visible at the weigh-in, where the Aussie veteran looked haggard and gaunt. It was visible in the ring, where the comically larger Geale's few landed punches were nothing more than a light drizzle for Cotto. No raincoat, no umbrella necessary.
”We've got no problem with Cotto doing what was once effectively done to him by Manny Pacquiao and his current trainer, Freddie Roach. We understand there is a long and accepted history for catch weights, and over time they’ve helped superstars like Henry Armstrong and Bernard Hopkins and Manny Pacquiao to make their marks on history. But there comes a time when you have to reconsider your relationship to the audience. Boxing, with its 68 recognized titles in 17 different weight classes, its absurd semantic ploys like ‘interim champion’ and ‘super champion’, its revolutionary globalism, is confusing enough already for the consumer. More than enough. If governing bodies want to strike a small blow for sanity, this one is available: no catchweights in real championship fights. Draw a line and promise fans that if a fighter is going to defend the middleweight championship, he will be willing to fight an opponent who weighs 160 on the scale. And so on for all the divisions except heavyweight. That’s not about Miguel Cotto. He has earned everything he's gotten. It's about building better bridges to fans for a sport that yearns to boost its audience share.
“Thanks for being with us on this edition of The Fight Game.”