By Paul Magno | September 04, 2023

This week’s Notes from the Boxing Underground column is going to be about three of boxing’s “glamour” divisions that are absolute dead zones at the moment and why they got that way. But it wouldn’t be a Paul Magno piece if I didn’t have a point beyond the point. In this case, I’ll be pointing out the BS double standards in the way some fighters are held accountable for holding up or killing divisions while others aren’t held up to any real degree of scrutiny. If you pay attention and read this with an open mind, you’ll see a pattern in how certain fighters are treated. 

Anyway, let’s start with a favorite target-- Jermall Charlo and the middleweight division.

Charlo has yet to be stripped of a WBC middleweight title that he hasn’t defended since June, 2021. That’s absurd, of course. In a title reign that began in June of 2019, when he was elevated to full world champion status, he’s only put the belt up four times. That’s four defenses over the course of more then four years. Again, absurd. 

Also absurd, though, is the recent middleweight world title reign of Gennadiy Golovkin, who, by the time he vacated his IBF and WBA 160 lb. titles in February/March of this year, had only made two defenses in just under four years as a titlist. 

If we’re weighing blame for who helped put the middleweight division in the shitter, the media darling Golovkin bears much more blame than Charlo. GGG refusing to fight the top guys when he became the A-side and ultimately vacating the belts because of his sense of entitlement as an A-side, led to bullshit like Vincenzo Gualtieri fighting Esquiva Falcao for the vacant IBF title and a semi-retired Erislandy Lara being elevated to full WBA champ status. 

But, yeah, Jermall Charlo gets all the heat from biased media dipshits, because…?

Now, let’s move to light heavyweight where, suddenly, people who rupture their gizzards screaming about the best fighting the best refuse to scream all that loud about the best fighting the best.

Three-belt champ Artur Beterbiev and WBA champ Dmitry Bivol co-existed as world champs in the same division longer than Errol Spence and Terence Crawford did. However, the idea of forcing a unification has just, fairly recently, started being approached. And, even now, that approach is almost apologetic. “ you think, maybe, you could fight one another? But if you don’t want to, I’d totally understand.”

The wildly well-regarded Beterbiev has averaged one defense a year since 2019, but, not surprisingly, he’s never put on lists of the shamefully inactive. Bivol had a banner 2022, with wins over Canelo Alvarez and Gilberto Ramirez after an overall weak champion-level resume, but he appears to be sitting out 2023. The “activity, fighting best” advocates, though, who gangstalked Spence and Crawford (but mostly Spence), have only mild public criticisms for Bivol, mostly along the lines of “I know he WANTS to have big fights, but, for whatever reason, he can’t get them…”

Now, lets move up to heavyweight.

Boxing media members tripped all over one another in jumping to the defense of three-belt champ Oleksandr Usyk when Usyk’s honor was even slightly questioned in his recent defense against Daniel Dubois. The beltline shot from the challenger that dropped him in the fifth round was a low blow (at least enough of one to be called a low blow), but by looking at the fervent advocacy for it being called a foul by some in the media, one would think that Dubois took a sledgehammer to Usyk’s dick and balls. 

Usyk is so untouchable in media quarters that his status as a once-a-year fighter is never really mentioned, even as these same pro-Usyk people lynch the professional integrity of fighters who have the same level of inactivity.

It’s only been recently that the media has started to catch on to WBC heavyweight champ Tyson Fury and his hustle and con show. But, as with Beterbiev, they’re almost apologetic in calling out The Gypsy King’s nonsense. They’ve also been mostly absent in calling for any accountability when it comes to Fury’s decision to fight an MMA competitor and boxing novice-- in the midst of an active title reign-- despite raging to piss on the legacy of a retired Floyd Mayweather when he fought Conor McGregor in 2017.

Coddling Fury and fawning over Usyk have contributed to a dead zone heavyweight division, stalled at  the championship level, where one guy at the top doesn’t fight and the other won’t fight. For crissake, the Usyk-Fury era is so slow and awful that the money-hungry sanctioning bodies are starting to create secondary heavyweight titles again, with Zhilei Zhang and Mahmoud Charr respectively holding WBO and WBA “world” title belts now. Yet, if you did a study regarding critical articles and negative social media posts from media, I guarantee you Deontay Wilder and Andy Ruiz get more public grief than Usyk and Fury. 

Can you see the pattern(s) to all of this? It shouldn’t even be necessary to point it out to you. 

I’m really not “pro” anybody in any of this. If anything, I’m “anti” everybody. I want everyone held to the same standards. You can’t rail on Jermall Charlo not defending his title and then say nothing about Gennadiy Golovkin, who was holding on to two belts he had no intention of defending. You can’t murder the reputations of fighters who don’t bend over backwards to unify titles, when you apply no pressure to certain fighters who totally COULD unify, but refuse to do so.

All of this should really go to show you just how much fanboy-ism is built into our boxing media and how much those biases may be influencing what we see in the ring. Because, if the constant harping on making Spence-Crawford, as media insists, contributed to eventually making the fight, then the opposite must also be true. Other fights DON’T get made because some fighters are regarded as do-no-wrong sacred cows and their careers are guided accordingly. 

On a more sinister note, you also have to look at who makes up the majority of the establishment boxing media-- race, class, etc. Then, take notice of who gets held up to angry scrutiny and who gets an understanding virtual hug of support. There are no coincidences in life, especially in boxing life. 

But I’ll step off my soapbox before engaging any further. All I can do is bring these things to light. The rest is up to you.

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