Reactions to HBO Abandoning Boxing Pour InAfter last week’s decision to stop broadcasting live boxing after 45 years, various members of the HBO boxing family came forward to discuss the decision. First was the consistently eloquent Larry Merchant, who compared HBO’s trajectory to that of a great prizefighter saying, “Once upon a time we were a promising kid. Then a challenger. Then a champion. A great champion. A long-time champion. And then a has-been who finally retired. So long, champ."
Next was Jim Lampley, who said that he saw the writing on the wall after so much of HBO’s talent went elsewhere, and the cost of buying back all those fighters proved to be unwieldy. While likely blubbering, Lampley said, “Nothing lasts forever. Things wouldn't have meaning if they did. Knew for a long time this day would come, and I made ready for it. Hope others did, too. No one ever televised boxing better than HBO, whether you are talking my era or Barry Tompkins, who preceded me. No one close.”
And finally, we got to hear from someone from the corporate side of HBO, when in regards to the decision to abandon boxing, HBO’s Peter Nelson stated “Our mission is to use sports as a lens into socio-economic, political & cultural issues. I think humanizing individuals, creating empathy around different communities, allowing that to cross-pollinate for people in a way that allows them to contextualize themselves and the world around them. That's at the heart of what we strive to do.”
While pseudo-intellectual drivel that makes zero sense upon the slightest bit of inspection isn’t exactly shocking coming from the network that makes “Westworld,” this statement was absolute garbage. While live boxing may not be as “woke” as “Girls,” “Vice” or “Real Time With Bill Maher,” to say that it’s not a lens into cultural issues, or that it doesn’t create empathy about different communities, is frankly absurd. Give me a book about the history of basketball and I can teach you the history of basketball. Give me a book about boxing, and I can teach you the history of the United States.
Jack Johnson’s heavyweight reign may have revealed the ugliest aspect of America, but it also gave some of the most downtrodden people in history a reason to feel pride in themselves. Joe Louis’ rematch against Max Schmeling taught white Americans what it was like to root for a black man for the first time, and how to view a minority as one of their own. Muhammed Ali’s conscientious objection to the Vietnam War got him labelled a coward, a common slur used against those who objected to fighting in that war. But a nation that watched him mock and embarrass Sonny Liston, one of the most intimidating athletes in human history, just a few years earlier, was forced to acknowledge that perhaps those who opted not to fight were actually acting on principle, not out of fear.
This column can get pretty negative; as fans we’re never happy if the biggest fights aren’t being made, and the post-retirement lives of boxers are unfortunately rarely pretty. But boxing’s ability to get people to care about those unlike themselves should never be questioned. 30 years from now, HBO will be making documentaries about the fights DAZN is showing this year, and while I’ll miss Jim Lampley and the consistent class of HBO’s boxing production, if Peter Nelson doesn’t get that, then I’m happy to see him depart the boxing business.
Mikey Garcia Signs to Fight UBF Mandatory Richard CommeyWith fans divided over wanting to see him face Vasyl Lomachenko or Errol Spence Jr, Mikey Garcia’s next fight will disappoint both camps. Yes, after months of consistently saying he was moving up to 147 in search of a fight with Errol Spence Jr., Mikey Garcia will instead be staying at lightweight and facing IBF mandatory challenger Richard Commey.
Ghana’s Commey is 26-2 with 23 knockouts, however most of those wins have come against unknown Ghanan fighters. His two losses came to Denis Shafikov and Robert Easter Jr. who you’ll recall Garcia beat by unanimous decision this July.
This isn’t a great matchup, but it’s not terrible. Boxing fans will forgive a “stay busy” fight like this as long as Garcia’s next bout is against one of the very few, very elite men believed to be capable of defeating him.
Wilder vs. Fury Gets Three Episode “All Access” SeriesAs a way to hype their Dec. 1 matchup, Showtime will be creating a three episode “All Access” series focused around the lives of Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua, set to premier November 17. While much of the animosity between the two you’re currently seeing at press conferences is completely canned (they’ve both admitted they very much like each other) both of these men are far too entertaining for this show to be anything other than captivating.
Isaac Dogboe Signs with Top Rank PromotionsGhana’s rising star Isaac Dogboe took another big step in becoming the possible two continent icon his power and background could afford him. After becoming the first man to stop Hidenori Otake when he knocked out the Japanese veteran in the first round, Dogboe signed a multi-year contract with Top Rank Promotions this week. His next fight is already being lined up, and although no opponent has yet been named, it is expected that Dogboe will be fighting on the Pedraza-Lomachenko undercard.
GGG-Charlo Rumors Swirl after WBC Orders FightThe WBC ordered GGG to face Jermall Charlo this week, a tough blow to Golovkin who was seeking an immediate third match with Canelo Alvarez. Now, it appears that Canelo will likely face Lemieux, GGG will face Charlo, and the winners of both matchups will likely fight each other. This is pretty rough for GGG as a slick boxer like Charlo is a far harder matchup than a guy like Lemieux. It’s almost as if the WBC is unfairly favoring Canelo. Weird.
Honorary Ten Count for Germany’s Graciano RocchigianiAnd finally, an honorary ten count goes out to Germany’s former WBC light heavyweight champion Graciano “Rocky” Rocchigiani who passed away at the age of 54 after being involved in a car crash. Rocchigiani fought guys like Michael Nunn, Christopher Eubank. He won the WBC title with his win over “Second to” Nunn after Roy Jones Jr. relinquished the title, then lost it when Jones decided he wanted the title back. Rocchigiani never fought Roy Jones; they just gave Jones the title back when he asked for it. This was both a shitty move y’all musta forgot about by Jones, and a testament to just how good everyone acknowledged he was in how little outrage the move caused.
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