Why We Accept Our Boxing Broken

In Between Rounds, Uncategorized on March 17, 2012 at 8:17 am

Editors note: This post is in correspondence to a boxing writing contest held by the http://www.thesweetscience.com/. I don’t care if I win. I only hope to open some eyes.  The essay topic is “Why We Accept Our Boxing Broken.” Here is what I have to say.

By Alexis Terrazas

Boxing has never pretended to be something it isn’t.

The fight game, since the days of the brutish bare-knuckler, has unashamedly basked in its flaws. It robs, cheats, lies and sometimes kills the very pugilists who spill the sport’s lifeblood. But we, the true fans of the fight, would never have it any other way.

There is much about professional fist fighting that is wrong or — for the apt sake of this essay — broken. Boxing, to sporting purists, can be infuriating by way of it making little to no sense. But Larry Merchant — the game’s finest monologist — phrased it best. Boxing is the “theater of the unexpected.”

Damn right.

In no other sport can a combatant so comprehensibly validate his physical superiority over a lesser man and still be declared the loser by a trio of judges. Robbing a man of a rightful win is one of boxing’s mortal sins. But likewise, in no other sport can a man be bested per every minute of every round and still emerge victorious by landing one devastating clout. To the game’s loyal fanatic, that is one of boxing’s greatest gifts.

Those who unconditionally support boxing love her despite all of her warts.

Boxing, as the headline of this work suggests, is broken. But there’s a reason for it. Many of the game’s celebrated heroes enter the sport as broken men. And these broken men sometimes exit boxing in better shape than they entered, and sometimes not.

Without this fistic fray, Matthew Saad Muhammad would have never risen above being a broken Philadelphia orphan, abandoned on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway by his older child brother. Without the mayhem of the ring, Johnny Tapia would have been preordained to a destitute life of drugs, prison, and nothing else.

Yes, both Saad Muhammad and Tapia have since squandered the fortunes they earned in the prize ring. But both, despite the steep odds of failure, exited the sport better than which they entered it. And it that regard, our broken sport works.

Today, it matters not that the two most celebrated fist fighters of our era refuse to engage in a prizefight. Because for every spoiled diva in the fight game, there is a broken man somewhere fighting to make himself whole again.

When we attempt to “fix” boxing, we kill the spirit of what it’s supposed to embody. “Fixing” a fight means declaring the winner before the contest is fought out. But in fighting, anyone with a pulse and a pair of mitts deserves a chance.

We accept boxing — the most archaic of contests — because though it be broken, it provides the unique fistic avenue to reclamation.

And no other conventional sport does that.


Down for the Count: Boxing’s Worst Person in the World — Debut edition

In Between Rounds on March 1, 2012 at 10:25 am

Champs and bums. Boxing has always had them, and will always need them. They have, for the most part, been determined inside the ropes. But “Bums” have also existed outside the ring in the forms of moronic writers, pompous promoters, and obtuse observers. Bums aren’t just boxers.

The existence of “Bums” inspired this new column, which is dedicated towards determining the “worst” person in boxing per every month, or more aptly, the “Bum” of the month club (And yea folks, put down your crayons, I know it’s not an original idea. I’m aware of who Joe Louis is). There are plenty of candidates, whom I will name, but for every segment, there can only be one, ahem, “winner.”

So here are the candidates … and to see what imbecile gets counted out this month by his own ineptness, read till the end.


Candidate 1: Osvaldo Bisbal — What boxing fan wasn’t disgusted by the actions of the Argentine punks who nearly three weeks ago stormed the ring at after Filipino 108-pounder Johnriel Casimero stopped local thug Luis Lazarte? The truth is, the fight itself was sloppy all the way. But the foreigner, Casimero, whipped the local hero, Lazarte, fair and square. And the homers in Argentina couldn’t handle that. It was Lazarte who bit Casimero at least twice during the contest, and fouled a whole bunch of more times by hitting behind his opponent’s head. But the chairs, beer bottles and fists after the referees’ stoppage weren’t hurled at Lazarte, those were aimed at Casimero. But Lazarte, nor the criminals at ringside aren’t the candidates, that honor is saved for the president of the Argentine boxing commission, Osvaldo Bisbal, who after the riot outright refused to do his job. “According to what I saw, I can’t find anyone to punish,” he said. “Who you want to punish? The boxer? The promoter? They complied with everything. The Once Unidos Stadium had nothing to do with it. There is no one to punish.”

But, to give Osvaldo credit, he has since suspended Lazarte. And he basically told the WBC to “F**** Off,” which still makes him an imbecile, but not the “worst” person in the sport.

Candidate 2: Teddy Atlas — If there is a more annoying, prominent boxing personality, I haven’t seen him. To tell the truth, Teddy isn’t a bad guy. He’s simply a moron. And that’s why he’s here. His unrelenting bashing of the Klitschko brothers is extremely unfounded, particularly because he protected his Russian heavyweight Alexander Povetkin — when he had Povetkin — from the Ukrainian duo. Povetkin has since ditched Teddy, but that hasn’t hushed Atlas. He continues to rail against heavyweight Dereck Chisora, for making headlines out of the ring for his scuffle with Brit brute David Haye. If you want to talk about idiotic behavior, Teddy, let me remind you that you once challenged George Foreman to a fight during a press conference between Big George and your bum heavyweight Michael Moorer. But I don’t expect you to remember that, because you have since gone senile. And senile disqualifies you from being this month’s choice as worst.

Candidate 3: Whoever the hell made Klitschko-Mormeck — I’m guessing the credit for this abomination goes to Klitschko manager Bernd Boente. Congratulations dude, you just made the worst heavyweight championship fight since Primo Carnera’s torturous reign. Mormeck, a French mediocre former cruiserweight champ, hasn’t fought in over a year and has done “rien” to deserve a shot at the title. But giving a no-hoper a shot at boxing’s once most coveted prize, still, doesn’t qualify you as the worst person in pugilism.

Candidate 4: Those preventing Pacquiao-Mayweather — Honestly, I’m with HBO boss Ken Hershman on this one: I’m over the fight. But if it’s somehow made, it will be the most intriguing professional fistfight of the last dozen years. I’m of the opinion that the fight will never happen, but if it did, I see the Pretty Boy winning, somewhat easily. But for the moment, it’s not happening. But both the American and the Filipino are fools for not engaging. If they decide to battle as old men in the far future, it will be for peanuts, no matter who gets the favorable split. If they have any sense at all, they should cash in now before Mayweather lands himself on the inside of a jail cell and before Manny finds God, fulltime. But bailing on the biggest purse of ones career doesn’t land you the top spot here.

Candidate 5: And this Months Worst Person in Boxing — Call him an easy plump target, but WBC president José Sulaimán is about the most loathsome figure in boxing that I’ve ever seen, and not just for this month. He continuously attempts, and fails, to be boxing’s “Dear Leader.” In the era of Alphabet soup titles, Sulaimán has been at the forefront of pillaging boxers with bogus sanctioning fees and fines, stripping boxers of earned belts, and awarding his favored protected prospects with dubious championships. He, despite his 81 years of age, is the premier driver of the machine that aims to kill the true spirit of what is a champion. But his most egregious offense this month came when his pathetic organization indefinitely suspended British heavyweight Dereck Chisora for being the most intriguing figure in his division. Yes, Chisora slapped Vitali at their weigh in, which only increased ratings for his fight. Yes, he spat water in little brother Wladimir’s face. And yes, he punked that poor excuse for a heavyweight David Haye by threatening to shoot him after his battle with Vitali. Despite what all these, ahem, fight guys say, Chisora is great for boxing in this age of miserable heavyweights. And if anyone should be forever banned from the sport, it’s Sulaimán and not Chisora. And on top of that, Sulaimán has the gall to suggest that Chisora needs anger management treatment. This is coming from a guy, Jose, who basically said that Floyd Mayweather Jr. hitting his “baby mama” was no big deal. Enough said.

But hey, Jose, being a buffoon is what you know best. Who am I to tell you otherwise? You want to be a fool … knock yourself out. Chances are you’ll scramble to your feet, if only to be down for the count again sometime in the future.

— a.t.

Chris Arreola — when it’s right to be the Non Sportsman

In Between Rounds on February 25, 2012 at 3:36 am

It wasn’t the best heavyweight fight of the weekend, nor was it the most important. But Chris Arreola’s first round drumming of a bum you never heard of, who fittingly enough is adorned with the alias “Drummer Boy,” was of significance.

Somewhat … anyway.

Day’s before Arreola’s bout with Tex-Mex Eric Molina, boxing’s once premier promoter Don King, who has been fairly recently relegated to the rank of a has-been, uttered slur “wetback” in attempt to promote the Texas fight card.

Those comments went largely unnoticed over the weekend. But Arreola heard them, and responded.

Arreola, the son of Mexican immigrants was stung by the comments. And in his own way, made King repent for his rudeness.

Here’s how this writer, who is also the son of a Mexican immigrant mother, witnessed what happened.

Arreola’s opening round rush tells me the story of the contest. The Texan, in offering futile resistance, is going to get licked — I think.

Bullying Molina to the edge of the ring rope — and Arreola truly is a bully in the pugilistic sense of the word — the Californian delivers a bruising lacing to Molina’s midsection.

It all appears mathematic. The untested Texan is going to fall. And that, in short, was the story.

But to end the story here would fib what really happened. So, what happened is this.

Arreola is good with his mitts when instructed to tune up the bum in the opposite corner. But mitts in boxing are for more than just slugging; they’re for blocking, too.

And Arreola, to put it bluntly, doesn’t block too good.

So when a bum decides to slug back, Arreola can sometimes find trouble.

Well, with a minute left in the first round, Molina slugged back.

He whipped a right hand across Arreola’s left cheek, and the Californian teetered forward, a sure sign that he was hurt, albeit momentarily.

That was Molina’s best moment of this contest, and the best right hand he’d ever landed in any prizefight. In this moment, it was easy to be fooled that Molina had altered the tide of battle in his favor. A big right hand can do that sometimes. But really, the rattling right hand shot was nothing more than a ripple in the eventual swell that would soon drown him.

Rather than turning the figurative tide, Molina turned into Chris leaving himself square, and Chris tore Molina with a short left hook to the skull.

The tall Texan stumbled into his own corner, and Chris cracked him another left hook, this time on Molina’s temple. Molina continued to flounder. Chris punched and punched. A final Arreola over right hand disposed Molina on the canvas. In a heap, he gave the fleeting appearance of attempting to beat referee Jon Schorle’s count.

He failed.

But the fight writers, those seated ringside and at home, who critiqued Arreola via social media, sporting columns and podcasts for being a bad sportsman, also failed.

They failed not because they were wrong in their assessments. It’s true. Arreola is not a gentleman. Celebrating over a downed opponent, then mockingly pointing down at him, then gloating to the crowd as if to say ‘look what I’ve done,’ doesn’t qualify you as courteous. But to see it merely as this is to miss the point.

Arreola’s antics, if you can call them that, proved he was a bully, and not a sportsman. And in the ring, after you’ve been stung by a racial slur from the opposite team, it’s better to be a bully, and not a sport.

It was Don King, Molina’s promoter, who first verbally stung the heavyweight contender from Riverside, California. And Chris, with only using his mitts, stung right back.

— a.t.

Some miscellaneous observations:

–Just one more note about Arreola before we move on. His post fight interview with Showtime’s incompetent Jim Gray where he called Don King a “F—— Racist,” though profane, was class. Gray along with Barry Tompkins and Steve Farhood all chastised Arreola for the outburst. Clearly, these guys don’t know what it’s like to be called a “wetback.”

–Nobody enjoys a face full of cranium, and that includes Manny Pacquiao. That’s what the Filipino got many years ago against Agapito Sanchez in San Francisco. And that fight was anything but fun for the favorite. Pacquiao will again be the favorite against Tim Bradley, but the Californian fights tough with his mitts, as he does with his skull. I’m not saying the Bradley will succeed, but he’ll have his moments, albeit ugly ones, in Vegas.

–As for Mayweather-Cotto, I like that fight five years ago. I cannot say the same for the bout that will take place on May 5.

–There’s a word in Spanish that describes Luis Lazarte to a tee. You know, he’s the lowlife who bit opponent Johnriel Casimero several times a few weeks ago in Argentina. That word is “cabrón.” Don’t know it? Look it up.

–And speaking of Spanish, Gabriel Campillo is the sweetest fighter I’ve ever seen out of the Iberian mainland. Incase you didn’t see it last week, he was the guy who “won” a 12-round robbery against Tavoris Cloud. Dude should change his alias to “Pobre cabrón.”

–Sorry for those expecting a comment on Rios-Gamboa. I’m waiting for the senile Bob Arum to realizes he actually made a meaningful fight.

–Lastly, what the hell is up with all of these, ahem, “hardened” fight guys getting into a tizzy over Dereck Chisora? His sallies (the Vitali slap, the spitting in Wlad’s face, and his threatening to shoot palooka David Haye after a post fight brawl) helped boxing more than hurt it.