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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: DAY OF WACKENING

By Paul Magno | December 25, 2023
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: DAY OF WACKENING

We’re going pure stream of consciousness with this one. It’s 5:24 AM, Christmas Eve, and I’m riding a 103.4 fever from a Dengue infection that’s been kicking my ass for a few days already. Third World Problems! Come to Mexico, get blown by comely caramel-skinned señoritas, but brace yourself for the occasional crippling dysentery and weirdo jungle diseases!

Saturday’s Day of Reckoning pay-per-view from Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is little more than a memory now, like my sweat-soaked sheets crumpled in heaps beside my bed. But fever dreams are fever dreams and that long-ass 8-hour card, which was probably two-thirds between-bout filler, was more like a fever dream than any pay-per-view show ever before in boxing. Focus and interest and attention fuzzed in and fuzzed out over that long haul. Five fights into the card, those intrepid boxing lovers watching from the very beginning were already being put to a test of ultimate endurance. Even many of the bootleg streamers Robin Hooding the card for the benefit of scoundrels everywhere began to drop off. “Are You Still Watching” prompts started popping up on the illegal broadcasts, telling the tale of toughened cyber-thugs who, themselves, had either fallen asleep or had bailed on the card and hadn’t interacted with the screen for at least a couple hours.

And who could blame even the most hardened of virtual crooks for turning away from a show that, at least in the first half of the telecast, featured more commentary from a dippy Sunny Edwards than competitive in-ring action? 

Just don’t speak too badly about Day of Reckoning in front of certain boxing people. They ain’t hearing your right-minded laments. 

You saw these people everywhere on social media during the card and all throughout the lead-in to the event. Boxing writers, podcasters, YouTubers, wannabe combat sports influencers. They were all scurrying about, gushing flattery for this “stacked” card, trying to ingratiate themselves to Saudi money, just as these guys do whenever they get a whiff of new money coming into the business. Not too long ago, the head of the Saudi sports and entertainment authority mass-followed Western media members (myself included), something which told the thirsty fuckers that a new boxing sugar daddy would be watching them. Suddenly, indifference and negativity to Saudi involvement in the sport turned to pure, fawning adoration and positivity. 

“THIS was the kind of card boxing needed! MORE of THIS. We’re tired of boxing companies putting non-competitive fights on pay-per-view! But all we really needed was MORE non-competitive fights on our pay-per-view! That was the answer! Do you think His Excellency Sheik Turkey Leg Ali is paying attention to this??? I hope so. I sure could us a taste of that blood money. I might get invited to Riyadh next time! I’d really be a big shot if I got more cool pics to put on social media!” 

By the way, let’s also not overlook the irony of these people who, just a day earlier, were clutching their pearls in outrage over Jermell Charlo’s domestic abuse accusation and then did the biggest about face to fawningly endorse an entire nation that subjugates all of its women under threat of violence and/or imprisonment. Ya gotta love boxing people!

But what about the fights, Paul? What about all that action on the most stacked, loaded card of all-time???

OK, voices in my head, OK...

The good fights on Saturday were the ones that were over early. Frank Sanchez, Filip Hrgovic, and Jai Opetaia needed less than eight combined minutes to crush their no-hoper opposition. That was a positive.

Agit Kabayel upsetting that big, smug ape Arslanbek Makhmudov was pretty sweet. Daniel Dubois-Jarrell Miller was alright, but neither guy inspires much rah-rah support. So, Dubois stopping Big Pharma with eight seconds left in the tenth didn’t really have me jumping off my sick bed.

Let’s not even speak of that Dmitry Bivol 12-round waste of time. Better yet, let’s not speak of Bivol in general. By the way-- I’m wishing a vibrating dildo to the cranium of the next chum who rails on and on about the Russian’s great technique.

Now to the “main events.”

Deontay Wilder. My lord.

PBC went to Amazon Prime and the Saudis got the Wish.com version of The Bronze Bomber.

The former WBC champ did very little en route to a one-sided decision loss to former WBO champ Joseph Parker, who, himself, didn’t really do all that much either. 

With the win, Parker moves on to...nowhere? Nobody wants to see him fight Anthony Joshua again. Tyson Fury is his buddy and stablemate. So, unless Usyk beats Fury (if they fight in February), Parker will be waiting around for a bit...maybe until his next Saudi payday?

Wilder, meanwhile, based on what we saw from him in the ring, looks to be done. And given his disjointed “peace and love,” ayahuasca-power, post-fight interview, anywhere is better for him than inside a ring. Consider the “it’s already been signed” Wilder-Joshua blockbuster to be deader than a anti-Saudi dissident journalist who walks into the wrong embassy.

As for the Anthony Joshua-Otto Wallin main-main event?

(I’m losing energy here, folks. Things are getting dark on me.)

Yeah, Joshua looked good in forcing the corner stoppage over his former sparring partner. But, then again, had we all forgotten just how shitty Wallin was and how generally ill-equipped he was going to be against someone like Joshua? But doing what he should be doing against opposition he should be doing it against hasn’t been a sure thing for years now, so I guess AJ gets a shiny glitter star on his forehead for this performance.

After the fight, Joshua glowed, beaming “I’m awesomeness” like a kid who had struck out in little league all year, but now just cracked a screaming line drive off a tee in his back yard. He says he’d still fight Deontay Wilder. Of course he would.

So...phew. That’s it. My duty to the boxing world is done for right now. My not-for-sale perspective on this very-much-for-sale boxing world popping up around Saudi money is officially on the record. I now suck on some electrolyte drinks and slip back into my semi-coma. Happy Holidays.

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

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