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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: I WELCOME MY SAUDI OVERLORDS!

By Paul Magno | January 01, 2024
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: I WELCOME MY SAUDI OVERLORDS!

I’m gonna start off 2024 with a whimper. As opposed to the usual bang I make with my bull-headed shit talking and stubborn, self-defeating defiance, I’m now pledging my compliance to the latest money marks in boxing-- the Saudis. I give up. I’m looking to sell out to the highest bidder while there may still be a bidder or two.

One of the worst-kept secrets in the boxing media business is that Saudi Arabia, which has thrown money around to become players on the world boxing scene, is also looking to buy up a media presence. 

Thomas Hauser, in a Day or Reckoning event recap posted in The Guardian, touches on this at the end of his piece.

“There are reliable reports,” Hauser wrote, “that the Saudi Arabian General Entertainment Authority is laying the groundwork for a new boxing website and sounding out high-profile writers from several countries about coming onboard for dramatically more money than they’re currently being paid. In a world where media coverage of boxing is already limited, that plan, if it comes to fruition, would go a long way toward enabling the Saudi government to control the narrative in the sweet science.”

Another veteran boxing writer, Donald McRae, would chime in via Twitter/X, encouraging his colleagues to steer clear of that sketchy Saudi money. 

“You just gotta say no, comrades,” McRae urged. 

Well, with all due repect-- Mind your own business, Donny! I like showering with warm water. Shit, I like showering with water! And generic Mexican peanut butter on generic Mexican Ritz crackers for dinner gets really fucking old after four consecutive days. 

I’ve done this boxing writing thing, full-time, for over ten years now (17 total), but things have never been leaner for me. Fight Hype has taken care of me and provided me a platform, but the realities of this business demand more than one stream of income to make life livable. 

I spent 2023 treading water, forcing myself to write brain-dead CONTENT on other sites for morons throughout the first half of the year. Then I spent the last part of the year appealing to editors and site owners (the ones not terrified to even acknowledge my existence) for a chance at a gig. And despite them claiming to be “fans” of my work, “loyal” readers and “supporters” of my “essential voice,” none would/could hire me because “so-and-so on staff” would have a fit if I were brought aboard, surely because of something “mean” I said regarding the media. Then, there were the intrepid boxing media souls, searching tirelessly for quality writing to “change the game” of boxing media, who flat-out rejected my services without even bothering to read any of the clips I sent them. 

This lack of man-sized huevos and general vision among men covering the cruelest of sports should tell you everything you need to know about the current sorry state of boxing media.

This is not the same universe that birthed Hunter S. Thompson. This isn’t the same BOXING universe that birthed AJ Liebling. Hell, it’s not even the same wormhole pocket boxing universe that facilitated the presence of Bert Sugar, who at least had the decency to wink-wink, nudge-nudge his way through life as a caricature of what a boxing journalist might be, if such a thing existed. 

It used to be that boxing media people would simply refrain from saying unpopular things. Now, they don't even think them. Critical thought and non-compliance have been bred out of the media ranks entirely. So, when fans wonder why they don't get the boxing product they deserve, they need look no further than the media that is supposed to be the frontline defense between the bossmen and the consumer, but is, instead, playing Plants vs. Zombies on their phone between bouts on press row, thinking up quips for their next podcast.

It would be one thing if I were coming up short, battling forces of evil. But who can even get to the forces of evil anymore? These days, the every day battle of a right-minded boxing writer is against mediocrity and general dullness and, worst of all, against the creeping reality that boxing writing is supposed to be anchored in mediocrity and general dullness. This present tense is a barren wasteland full of nothing but Top 10 lists, culled click-friendly quotes, and “what’s next for so-and-so” articles. 

The boxing media is so wishy-washy and strategically lobotomized that you can’t even have a good argument with them. They just curl up and roll under their desks when hit with even the slightest bit of push back. Their first and only defense is to ignore you. And they’ll stick with that because all of their colleagues are, similarly, curled up, tucked under their desks, ignoring unpleasant truths until the guy saying them (usually just me, actually) stops and/or gets starved off his soapbox.

This ain’t a world that will reward you for boldness. Shit, they won’t even ACKNOWLEDGE you if you hurt too many feelings or say too much that goes against the grain. This, of course, makes it hard to get your voice heard in a business where getting your voice heard goes hand in hand with making a living. It also makes it hard to get shit accomplished if your ultimate goal as a writer is reform and/or a push for accountability (Which, in this day of industry-sponsored media, is probably the entire point of keeping content nice and vacuous).

But I give up. 

I’m ready to get some bills paid. I’m ready to be one of those guys with nothing to say, but lots of people listening. I’m ready to be that guy who just doesn’t give a fuck about stuff that matters. Only an idiot keeps swimming upstream against an overwhelming current when there doesn’t even seem to be an ultimate destination anymore. 

How do you rage against a machine when most everyone desperately wants to be PART of the machine and nobody even knows how to rage anymore?

So...

Your Excellencies, Your Awesomenesses, Your Majesties, Your Highnesses...back that filthy lucre truck up to Stately Magno Manor here in the hills of Central Mexico and unload that shit. Fuck the struggle. I’ll take my unique gifts (which, as one veteran writer observed, make me “The Most Feared Man in Boxing Writing”) and pledge them in service to you, my new overlords. And then, as Don Vito Corleone said in ‘The Godfather:’ “...if by some chance an honest man like yourself made enemies they would become my enemies. And then, they would fear you.” 

Every good regime needs an adept and fearless hatchet man. You, my new masters, know that better than anyone.

I humbly await your response. 

P.S. I totally reserve the right to change my mind a month into this deal, after I pay off some bills, and go scorched earth, once again burning a bridge as I stand on it. I’m just stupid like that. 

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

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