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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: BOXING'S BATTERED WOMAN SYNDROME

By Paul Magno | April 08, 2024
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: BOXING'S BATTERED WOMAN SYNDROME

When Saul “Canelo” Alvarez said this about his decision to not fight consensus super middleweight top contender David Benavidez, people were actually nodding along in agreement:

“I don't need to fight anybody," Alvarez told media a little while back. "I don't need to prove to anybody anything because I remember when this happened with Golovkin. I don't need to prove anything to anybody...It is what it is.”

How fucking absurd. That’s a bit like me saying, “Well, I met my deadline this week-- and for the last several weeks-- so, I’ve earned the right to not ever meet my deadline again. Fuck my editors!” I mean, fine...ok...but try to stay employed like that.

In the sports world, that attitude is even more absurd since, well, the whole idea of sports is wrapped up in the concept of competition.

You won’t catch the Kansas City Chiefs saying, “We’ve won so many Super Bowls that, this year, we’ve decided we’re only going to play Division 3 college teams-- We’ve earned the right to decide who we play!”

And when the Mexican star talked about how important it was for a potential opponent to show him respect before getting a fight with him? Man, if I cared all that much anymore, I would’ve sharted myself. 

For fuck’s sake, come on. 

“I won’t face my rivals if they’re mean to me-- and you can’t force me to do it because I’ve earned the privilege to hand-pick everyone I face.”

Alex, what is “Things no real sport would allow their champions to say?”

Boxing fandom has had a raging case of Battered Woman Syndrome for my entire life as a fan/participant/media pariah. We allow this sport to get away with doing things to us that no other fan base would tolerate. And when they go too far and see us distancing ourselves from their abusive behavior, they come back to us with sad eyes, promising to never do us wrong again. We take them back, and, before too long, they’re back doing the same shit-- and sometimes worse. 

I have nothing against Canelo. As a matter of fact, I’ve often been accused of being a Canelo apologist and/or fan boy. His resume IS among the very best in the sport today and there’s a real argument to be made that he actually has the best resume among active fighters.

This is also no knock on Canelo’s May 4 fight with Jaime Munguia, who is not as deserving as Benavidez, but has to rank among the top three or four best, most logical foes for the Jalisco cash cow. 

What Alvarez says and believes about his freedom to do whatever the fuck he wants in the ring is a boxing thing, not necessarily a Canelo thing. That “I’m the A-side, I can whatever I want” BS is all over the place, fucking with the boxing hive mind like a wave of leeches swarming all over your cock and balls after a fun night of skinny dipping in a backwater pond. 

At the risk of being called a “hater,” I’ll just put this out there: The moment you have nothing to prove as a competitor is the moment you need to do the honest thing and retire. 

Sports is all about proving yourself. Watching skilled athletes prove themselves over and over again is what makes competition, competition. That’s why we watch sports. We’re not watching because we like to watch our favorite sports personalities get rich and play celebrity-- at least, I hope that’s not why some of us are watching (Although, judging by some of the things I see on social media, it seems as though way too many fans are doing just that). 

And this takes me back to the premise of this piece. Us boxing fans put up with way too much shit because, oh well, that’s how things are. 

How much “bad” is allowed in a bad decision before it can be called a robbery? Like, the wrong guy winning a fight is EVER okay. But in the boxing world, we’ve been conditioned to accept such things as normal, so we argue amongst ourselves about degrees of robbery. We’ve accepted our fate and are now justifying how much abuse we’re okay with taking.

“He’s normally a sweetheart, but when he drinks…”

We talk ourselves into a lot of “it could be worse” thinking. We accept a lot of bullshit and consumer-abusive behavior as standard operating procedure. 

The media is shit and corrupt and often nothing more than an extension of some promotional company’s public relations department. But, oh well, that’s how it is...so, let’s just keep using them as our sources of info. 

“Yeah, he hits me...but I start it sometimes…”

All I’m saying is that we don’t have to put up with all the negative shit in boxing. As consumers, we have the right-- and some say the responsibility-- to demand better and to walk away if things aren’t right for us. 

This sport, these fighters, these sanctioning bodies, this media, DO owe us something. They owe us, at the very least, the bare minimum of respect in giving us what we have every right to expect from a product we’re paying for.

Got something for Magno? Send it here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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