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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: (BOXING) LOVE FOR SALE

By Paul Magno | May 13, 2024
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: (BOXING) LOVE FOR SALE

Last Thursday, it was announced that the WBC and streaming service DAZN had entered into an arrangement/deal. Described in a press release as “a ground-breaking partnership,” one can only hope that the ground-breaking is literal and refers specifically to the ground opening up and swallowing all those involved.

OK. Should I go through all the reasons this “partnership” between a broadcaster and a sanctioning body is unethical and possibly illegal? I’ll just cut right to the chase and spotlight the utter shittiness of a sanctioning body-- who makes rankings, issues titles, and allegedly/ostensibly oversees the integrity of the boxing product-- making a deal with a broadcaster that would, obviously, make that broadcaster a favorite son and earn them front-of-the-line consideration when it comes to fights as well as rankings decisions.

This announcement comes right on the heels of the announcement that the WBC and WBA had entered into “partnerships” with Saudi Arabia and its “Riyadh Season”-- similar deals fraught with similar unethical and possibly illegal activity. In the particular case of the Saudi arrangements, there’d be the issue of sanctioning bodies working directly with a de facto promoter in a work structure wild with conflict of interest possibilities.

From there, it would be a small skip and half-jump to argue the case that the above-mentioned “partnerships” tap dance all over the intent behind the “coercive business practices” provision in the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act.

But this is boxing.

People will do whatever they want in boxing, however they want to, actually, whether illegal or not.

They do what they want because nobody’s there to stop them, to make them accountable, to keep things honest. And who’s going to stop anyone from doing anything in boxing, anyway?

The sanctioning bodies are nipple-deep in the worst of boxing’s nonsense. The state commissions are virtually meaningless, especially in an increasingly international boxing world. The federal government has shown no interest in deep-diving into the black waters of boxing. The promoters and managers are there to make money, not reform the sport or alter a status quo that works for them. The fighters, with the exception of a very small handful, have the least amount of power in boxing’s power dynamic and, frankly, can’t afford to make waves when they’re just trying to make a living.

Maybe the boxing media can step up? After all, the entire purpose of media is to speak truth to power and battle injustices. But who among them? Will the watchdog be the major boxing news site (Ring Magazine/RingTV) owned by a promoter that has a broadcast deal with the network cutting the allegedly/potentially illicit deal with the sanctioning body? How about the other major boxing news site (Boxingscene)-- the one owned by the wannabe network/promotional company that will need to do business with those sanctioning bodies cutting the allegedly/potentially illicit deals?

Maybe the guys and the gals of the “new media,” wandering around press row, recording from their cell phones, getting chubbies because Caleb Plant spoke to them, will lead the charge to accountability?

Not likely. But I have more faith in them doing so than the swamp-assed, middle-aged “old media” scurrying about, trying desperately to make a few bucks in a dying medium.

Should we count on the fans stepping up and being savvy, conscientious consumers for the sake of the sport’s betterment? Nope. Really, why should they? They just want the fights and it should never be the customer’s responsibility to sweep up the shop and make sure the owners are doing business the right way. Plus, boxing fans’ level of awareness on any issue is all over the place. After all, they HAVE been informed entirely by the shitty, inconsistent media and the non-stop promotional spin that passes for news.

And this stuff extends beyond shady arrangements between sanctioning bodies, networks, and the Saudi Royal Family.

Take, for instance, the whole PEDs issue.

All of the people talking about Ryan Garcia’s failed PEDs test(s), arguing about picograms, nanograms, billionths, and allowable limits...it’s all a waste of time. Once again, this is fucking boxing. Nothing matters beyond the money. Guilty, innocent, whatever, Garcia's going to keep fighting and everything's going be the same as it was before the test(s).

For crissake, in boxing, the sporting world’s most notorious (convicted) PEDs distributor, Victor Conte, is allowed to be the sport’s largest nutritional supplement distributor (SNAC). I mean, really, how unserious can this business be? I’m not going to lie, I give a serious side-eye to every fighter wearing a SNAC patch and celebrating their relationship with the brand. But what the hell can I do-- leave a bad Yelp review?

What the hell can WE do?

Pretty soon that “we” may be a “you,” to be honest, as I’m almost all out of fucks given and getting too old to keep scrapping to be heard in a sucking void while trying to wrangle pennies to stay solvent.

At this point, it might be better if things did collapse, if the feds came in to make boxing business operations in the States unbearably business-like and if media was allowed to further deteriorate to the point where it imploded as an absurd joke of mish-mosh lies and targeted half-lies. We might have a fighting chance to make things right in a rebuild. As things stand right now, though, we have zero chance of making things right. Those of us who care are simply tossing scented dryer sheets on top of fetid, fly-ridden dung heaps.

Or we could just shut up, take what’s given to us, and keep bitching about why we’re not getting what we want nearly as much as we should.

Knowing boxing...knowing us...we’re probably looking at the latter.

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

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