By Paul Magno | August 29, 2022

I love fights like Jose Pedraza vs. Richard Commey. Fights that don’t necessarily feature the elite of elite, but which pit two very good fighters, who desperately need a win, against one another. Stuff like that makes for the very best of boxing competition. 

Pedraza and Commey met in Tulsa on Saturday, atop a Top Rank on ESPN card, coming off high-profile losses. Pedraza was decisioned by Jose Ramirez in March and Commey was nearly shutout by Vasiliy Lomachenko last December. Neither veteran could afford a backward step-- and they scrapped like it. 

Earnestly fought and stylistically well-matched by Top Rank matchmakers, Pedraza-Commey was a treat on a Saturday night, one week removed from Anthony Joshua’s temper tantrum in Saudi Arabia and Tyson Fury’s is-he-or-isn’t-he-retired grandstanding. Sometimes I don’t want a show, or a showcase, or a blockbuster event...sometimes I just want a competently fought, competitive prizefight. And that’s what Top Rank provided on Saturday. 

I don’t even care about the fight ending in a draw. That’s fine. It was close. The ten rounds of honest competition beforehand was good enough. Getting looks at prospects Jared Anderson, Richard Torrez, and Tiger Johnson on the undercard was also a nice touch.

All in all, everything went down very well on Saturday. Maybe it was just a case of this catching me at the right time, in the right mood. But, whatever the case, you gotta give kudos as well as kicks in the ass if you’re gonna be an honest writer. So, yeah, big kudos to the Top Rank folks for a solid show. 

Now for a kick in the ass...

There was a blip of a brouhaha late last week, at least among boxing media nerds, when Devin Haney voiced his displeasure over being left off the Ring Magazine pound-for-pound rankings and basically said that they could shove the Ring Magazine lightweight belt they awarded him up their collective clenched-cheeks keyster.

“The ring magazine could keep their bet,” Haney wrote via social media. “You won’t see me with it before or after this fight.”

In response, the nice older lady with the ponytail who currently sits as Ring’s Editor-in-Chief, responded with a characteristically self-important, “Then mail it back to us, Champ.”

Haney’s comeback to the comeback is actually the only salient point to this whole silliness. It touches on why, precisely, the Ring rankings, the Ring belts, and other media awards meant to be taken seriously as “the real thing” can be more hindrance than help. 

“I’m not obligated to wear the ring magazine belt; if I earned it, then I earned it rather I wear it or not!” Haney responded. “So to ask for it back just shows y’all never wanted me to have it in the first place!”

A belt or rankings meant to be taken as “real” things, but decided on by a clique of boxing writers, is just as obscenely corruptible as a WBC rankings board made up of Mauricio Sulaiman’s friends and cronies. And if anyone knows about boxing writers holding grudges and going on mean girl vendettas, it’s me, someone who’s angered enough of them with the pesky truth to be systematically starved out of the business because of it, at least for a good, long while. (but that’s a story for another day). Hell, Ring Magazine selling their rankings and bartering their credibility for exposure was a thing that happened in many of our lifetimes, just Google “Ring Magazine Scandal.” Almost everything written about it is from me and from non-boxing writers because, well, boxing media reporting on themselves is about as common as cops reporting other cops for crimes and misdeeds. 

I won't comment on the pound-for-pound rankings and whether Devin belongs there. That pound-for-pound stuff is just plain dumb to begin with, and pound-for-pound as decided by Ring's editorial board is especially silly.  

But Ring Magazine’s self-importance in this matter, as displayed by their Editor-in-Chief’s “wear it or give it back” attitude, is precisely why these media-based rankings and wannabe sanctioning body substitutes are gigantic shit burgers. With a current boxing media that is almost equal parts incompetent and compromised (Yeah, we know who owns you, “Bible of Boxing” and who’s propped you up, monetarily, to stay afloat), these pompous plays at power brokerage are utterly meaningless and only add more chaos to an already chaotic landscape. In case it needs to be said-- completely unregulated substitute sanctioning bodies, with zero accountability, manufacturing championships and rankings based entirely on the whims and agendas of media slugs is no bueno. 

Devin Haney vacating the pretend Ring Magazine belt is, pretty much literally, like me tossing my cardboard Burger King crown in the trash after I finish my Whopper. And it should be treated with the same level of importance. 

Devoting a good chunk of this week’s column to the matter probably goes against that declaration, but it’s important that somebody, with some sort of soapbox and platform, says this shit out loud, at least once.

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