FightHype.com

NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: AS KING OF BOXING...

By Paul Magno | May 27, 2024
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: AS KING OF BOXING...

Thank me now for not doing a Josh Taylor-Jack Catterall 2 Postmortem this week.

To be honest, there just wasn’t a lot of Notes from the Boxing Underground-worthy subject matter this week. Therefore, I figured on doing a more esoteric think tank piece in this column-- or as close as I could get to making something like that without nauseating myself into a hospital bed.

What if all my pacts with the devil and pledges to the Illuminati finally panned out and I was named “King of Boxing?” Actually, those pacts and pledges would probably bring me a billion dollars in cash and a prime Shakira, but that would make for a really creepy, nasty-ass perverted boxing column that nobody but me would care to read. So, let’s go with the “King of Boxing” thing.

In no particular order (because they’re all important and, really, work hand-in-hand), here’s what King Paul the First would address in his new boxing empire.

Weight Manipulation

I don’t want to hear people twisting themselves into mental knots, balking at rehydration clauses and penalties, trying to explain how fighters need to rehydrate to keep themselves safe on fight night. Simply put-- if fighters would compete at weights reasonably near their actual weights, there’d be no need to rehydrate to such an extreme after weigh-in.

Let’s be real here. Weight manipulation is a thing and it’s a legalized cheat. The ability to peel off and re-stack weight in the 36 hours or so between weigh-in and opening bell is a science that gives the fighter with the greater resources and body physiology a huge advantage. This weight manipulation creates an uneven playing field and it turns a fight into a competition where the winner is determined less and less by the actual fighting and more and more by science.

Boxing needs to return to same-day weigh-ins to ensure fighter safety and general fairness in competition. No cutting deals for overweight fighters, no “show must go on” desperation. We only switched to day-before weigh-ins for business reasons in the early 80s (no, it wasn’t for fighter safety as sanctioning bodies said. In what parallel universe is facilitating extreme dehydration and rehydration, along with in-ring weight mismatches, considered “safer” than forcing a boxer to fight at a reasonable weight?). Oh yeah, there’ll be a mess of canceled fights in the beginning, but fighters/trainers will learn and adapt and the product in the ring will show considerable improvement because of it. 

Realigning Weight Classes

To go along with the elimination of weight manipulation, there needs to be an elimination of what often contributes to the “weight game.”

It’s a tired old boxing nerd lament, but there ARE too many weight classes in boxing. The sport needs a total restructuring when it comes to weight classes if we’re also hoping to create a healthy and safe competitive atmosphere. However you cut it, 17 weight divisions (18 if you’re the WBC and WBA) are just too many and it breeds rampant weight manipulation tomfoolery, as well as general confusion.

If I sat down and really thought about, I could whittle the 17/18 into a fair and safe 10 (and maybe even less). The real abusers aren’t the “bridgerweights” between cruiser and heavyweight, but the sub-135 weight classes. There’s absolutely no need for eight weight divisions in the 35 pounds between “minimumweight” and “lightweight.” Cut down on the divisions and we get more clarity and better depth of competition, too.

PEDs

I’ve said this before, but I tend to avoid talking about PEDs in boxing because nobody’s really serious when it comes to doing anything about them. The emergence of voluntary testing pretty much killed any chance of a real anti-doping program in boxing. As things stand now, we have event organizers and  the fighters’ own teams contracting testing that is conveniently incomplete to supplement weak commission testing in an ineffective mix of nothingness where we can’t be sure the fighters are clean or that just punishment will be delivered if a fighter does pop dirty. PEDs testing right now is only about giving the appearance of real testing without having to deal with any of the binding consequences of a real PEDs testing program. Back more than a decade ago, I was jumping up and down, trying to tell people where this voluntary testing would lead us (to nothing) when the topic of a true anti-doping effort first popped up. The choice was a toothless VADA or the anti-doping program used by USADA, which, aside from the actual testing, focuses on investigation, research, and typically insists on actual binding sanctions and consequences for dirty fighters. The sleazy and/or conveniently dumb media championed VADA and now boxing continues to spin its wheels when it comes to doping issues.

As King Paul the First, I’d force a serious conversation about implementing a real PEDs testing program. I’d work with the experts in the field to at least try and ensure that this most dangerous sport is not made even more dangerous by fighters working with illicit science that is immeasurably ahead of efforts to bust them.

Sanctioning Bodies

The belts DO matter, but so do silly, dubious sanctioning body decisions that cock-block the sport’s natural, logical flow. I wouldn’t necessarily run the alphabets out of the sport, but they’d be on a short leash, at least until King Paul the First puts together a sanctioning organization that makes the others obsolete.

TV/Broadcasting

This would probably be the hardest change to implement-- because of greed, ego, international boundaries, and, yes, economic necessity. But this is a time in boxing’s history where the entire sport needs to circle the proverbial wagons and create an atmosphere where a rising tide can actually lift all boats. No more tactical counter-programming against other shows. No more predatory business practices. No more filler fights taking the place of fights that need to happen now. No more forcing fans to pay twice and sometimes thrice for everything.

How about riding out current broadcast deals and then establishing a true boxing network where the major promoters are actual partners, dependent on one another to build their network by cooperating with one another?

It’s a pipe dream, yeah, but all of this is a pipe dream. Why not go big with the fantasy? Actually, though, I was a paid consultant a few years back for a company that had this same idea. So, maybe...

Media/Journalism

There’s not a whole lot me, as King of Boxing, could do to force standards for journalism in boxing media. But a strong media goes hand-in-hand with a well-functioning sport. A good, strong media forces transparency and accountability-- key factors in maintaining an honest product and honest business practices. So, I’d keep an eye on the sport’s treatment of media (no quid pro quo access-for-deference arrangements, boxing companies prohibited from essentially sponsoring their own media coverage by buying up sites, etc.). In general, I’d just foster a healthy relationship between the sport and its media. And, in this case, “healthy” would often mean necessarily adversarial.

And there you have it. King Paul the First’s plans for Boxing.

Now, let me kick back and think about prime Shakira in a room full of hard currency...

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

JULY 11, 2024
JULY 08, 2024
JULY 04, 2024
JULY 01, 2024
JUNE 27, 2024
JUNE 24, 2024
JUNE 21, 2024
JUNE 18, 2024
JUNE 17, 2024
JUNE 16, 2024
JUNE 13, 2024
JUNE 10, 2024
JUNE 08, 2024
JUNE 07, 2024
JUNE 06, 2024
JUNE 04, 2024
JUNE 03, 2024
MAY 30, 2024
MAY 25, 2024
MAY 23, 2024
MAY 20, 2024
MAY 18, 2024
MAY 16, 2024
MAY 14, 2024
MAY 13, 2024
MAY 09, 2024
MAY 07, 2024
MAY 06, 2024