By Joseph Herron: Like the age-old adage claims, those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
One would have to be completely obtuse not to see that the die-hard boxing community is on a collision course with another potentially disappointing and controversial outcome on July 29th.
Earlier this week, the elite-level showdown to determine undisputed Welterweight supremacy was finally announced. WBO titlist Terence “Bud” Crawford will take on WBC, IBF, and WBA champ Errol “The Truth” Spence at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV, in a little over eight weeks’ time.
Will the two-month span be a long enough grace period in which the always outspoken die-hard fan base finally learns the error of its ways?
Although most disgruntled boxing fans who genuinely believe former three-division titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko was jobbed on May 20th and is undoubtedly a victim of corruption are convinced they’re correct in their factually unsupported assessment, they really couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Scoring a prizefight is a subjective process in which three judges at ringside view each round like its own individual contest. In a championship fight, the winner is determined if he’s rewarded a majority of twelve contested rounds. Admittedly, it’s a very imperfect system with several flaws, but it’s boxing’s most accurate and reliable system at this point in time.
As we were just reminded in a resounding manner, emotionally charged fans, when presented with a verdict that doesn’t meet their approval, will often irrationally make unsubstantiated claims of corruption.
Every pastime, be it referees, judges, umpires, or officials, has a degree of the human element that will often be contested by fans or supporters of a specific franchise, team, or athlete. And throughout every organized sport’s storied history, there have been scattered and isolated instances of cheating and corruption, which have been proven to be mere anomalies.
But in no other sport do its most ardent supporters make such rampant claims of collusion and corruption on a regular basis.
Once again, I pose the question, “Why”?
Boxing is one of the oldest pastimes in existence…especially within the American market, and somewhere along the way, die-hard fans have been convinced that adopting an overtly negative outlook on the business and sport of boxing is a more insightful and intelligent way of looking at the product.
Quite the contrary.
Their collective gripes are often a product of personal bias, a misunderstanding of the scoring procedure, or an incident of human error.
But irate and disgruntled fans will often speak in absolute terms when discussing charges of “robbery” and corruption.
Die-hard fans understand the sport well enough to know that the scoring process is indeed subjective in nature, and the action in the ring can and often is interpreted differently, depending on the observer’s personal tastes and preferences. That doesn’t stop them from continuously sounding off ad nauseum.
But this time, no one is listening.
In healthier eras, most within the business understood that the real bosses of boxing were the fans. Through ticket sales, TV ratings, and PPV sales, the fervent and passionate supporters of pugilism always determined the market value of fighters, match-ups, and events.
It was always in the best interest of everyone involved to listen whenever the real bosses of boxing had something to say.
That’s not the case any longer.
Since the advent of the internet, the influence of social media, and the popularity of illegally streaming these expensive main events, those within the business of boxing have begun to turn a blind eye…and no one can blame them.
It’s often said that the guilty dogs bark the loudest.
After May 20th, the dogs guilty of illegally streaming the $59.99 priced Top Rank/ESPN PPV event have been uncontrollably barking on their preferred social media outlet with unsubstantiated charges of robbery and corruption.
How do we know the great majority of these outspoken fans illegally pirated the brilliant Haney vs. Lomachenko showdown?
Although everyone has seen the twelve-round contest, and most have formulated an opinion on the judge’s verdict, it was recently reported that less than 150K fans decided to pay for the privilege to witness the breathtaking affair and view it legally.
As a result, the disgruntled fans of the event, calling for an immediate rematch won’t get it. Because everyone involved sans fighters lost money on the event, there will be no rematch. And all the while, the guilty dogs continue to bark; clueless of the consequence of their collective action.
The faction that used to be highly regarded as the real bosses of boxing no longer has a voice. Until they once again start financially supporting their self-proclaimed favorite pastime, their voices will continually be muted.
On July 29th, the formerly regarded “real bosses” will have another opportunity to rectify their wrongdoing and make the decision to either purchase an event to which they’ve been clamoring for years or choose to once again illegally stream the high-priced PPV.
After decades of being expected to pay for every major boxing event through PPV, the now extremely predictable die-hard fans of the sport will undoubtedly choose the latter.
And while there stands a very good chance that Crawford vs.Spence will result in controversy, no one will once again listen to their collective cries of robbery and corruption.
Until the “real bosses of boxing” choose to once again financially support their supposed “favorite pastime”, no one within the business will care what they have to say.