"Believe it or not, the promoters pay the judges. The judges are appointed by the commission and the promoter pays them. That's part of his responsibility...Now you know the fix is in because if 2 out of the 3 of them are with the sanctioning body, the decision is predetermined; especially if it's remotely close, the promoter's fighter and the network fighter will win because that will make them more money on the next promotion. Nobody wants to talk about it on TV. I did it a few times and was told to shut up, so I did," stated former world champion and commentator Bobby Czyz as he talked more about the current state of boxing. Check out what else he had to say about boxing, Mike Tyson and much more.
PC: You were one of my favorite commentators because, like most ex-fighters that call the shots, you were very honest. Would you like to see more fighters behind the mic?
BC: Think about this, Larry Merchant never took a punch in the mouth, he's never trained or trained a fighter, never ran or sparred with somebody and had the duress of having 100 punches a round thrown at him to duck 'em, slip and roll off of them. He couldn't tell you the difference between a fish hook and a left hook in theory. In theory, yeah, he's a good observer and he's watched the game and been around the fights, but he's no better or worse than any good fan that can talk. I don't care who, across the board, it is. It's just like when you watch football. You see Lawrence Taylor and Howie Long, the players, telling you what's going on because if you haven't played the game, you don't know the skills it takes to do the things; the strength and training it takes and the knowledge of what it is all about. If you don't understand the entire process, you don't really qualify to be an expert analysis. You're not supposed to have an expert analysis if they haven't done what they're talking about.
PC: I think Merchant is to the point where, unless it's a blood and guts type of battle, he's easily bored.
BC: Some of the fights have to be thinking-mans fights. When I fought Robert Daniels, everybody was so used to me coming out and getting to work and making a war out of it because that was my style. I was strong for my weight, but that was at light heavyweight. At cruiserweight, I wasn't as strong. I needed to use my boxing skills, step around, step off, and make him miss and outpunch and outpoint him. I knew he was stronger and younger. After the fight, they asked Daniels, "What happened?" He said, "I had no idea Bobby could box like that." He didn't know, but it's not my place as his opponent to make him aware of my skills (laughing).
PC: You had the rare opportunity to commentate a fight with the guys from HBO for the Tyson/Lewis fight. I believe that was the only time it's ever happened. How different was that for you?
BC: Well, Steve Albert and I at Showtime were very accustomed to each others style. I know his tempo and we had established certain hand signals between each other for when somebody needed to step in so we wouldn't squash one another. When I worked with Jim Lampley, we did a practice rehearsal and they showed us Holyfield/Rahman and we did 3 rounds of that fight and the directors and producers said, "Stop! It's like you guys have been doing it together our whole lives." We didn't miss a beat. I can adjust to different personalities and different styles because mine is still mine, but I have to realize what others peoples strengths are and where I could be of help. Lampley said afterwards that was the best broadcast he had ever done. He said it was the best broadcast that he has been a part of. But even the advanced fan that is sitting ringside hasn't been in there and he doesn't understand certain things because he can't. Take my brother, Vince, that fought for 5 years. Keep in mind that he's never fought past 3 rounds in the amateurs because he's never turned pro. He never had to hear, round 7, round 9 or round 13. One of the broadcasts I did, he says to me, "Bobby, so and so was doing so well. Why didn't he just keep doing that?" I told him with the amount of energy level it would take to do that, he would not be able to maintain that and be here in 10 rounds." He tried to develop a lead and he did, but he got caught up. Some things people don't understand how difficult some things are. People joke about baseball players hitting a round object at 90 miles an hour at 60 feet away is the hardest thing to do. Now, imagine that Lennox Lewis is 2 feet from you throwing a punch at 80 miles an hour and you gotta see the punch, block it and hit him back without being killed in fractions of a second.
PC: That's a great point because it's like when my buddies used to say, "I'll fight Mike Tyson for 5 million dollars!" I used to tell them that may cover their medical cost.
BC: But here is the thing that you need to tell people like that because people have said this to me a thousand times, "Oh, I'll fight him for 5 million." What gives them the right? No one would pay 5 cents to watch them fight him. You have to earn the reputation and credibility in the ring, which will take you 10-20 years of training to develop and beat people just to get there. And then you still have a long shot at best. Mike became no one was paying to see the other idiots; unless it was someone who was undefeated or had some potential chance. Mike was the obsession. People were obsessed with seeing Mike. If you fought Mike, you became a millionaire immediately.
PC: You were a big fan of Tyson. I think you were one of the only commentators that felt like if he got his shit together, he could still be a presence late in his career. Could you talk about the rise and fall of Mike Tyson as you saw it?
BC: Well, the rumor has it that Mike grossed over 400 million dollars and now he's bankrupt again. That would tell you that he was not very intelligent with his money. And I was around him a couple times and I knew he was very generous, just crazy, and did what he wanted. When he got married to Robin Givens, she was playing him like a fiddle and that offended me, but that was not my place. That was his choice. That's his woman and his thing. Then the mother-in-law was doing stuff, but she had that reputation. She dated Paul Winnfield and other athletes and extorted money out of them too so I don't know what his personal life was because I wasn't that close to him. Professionally, if we were out and about, we hung out, we talked and whenever I was around my people, he took pictures. He wasn't this mean, bad guy and the hard ass that he portrayed for everybody else. He just basically wanted to be left alone and do his thing. He wasn't a bad guy, but he wasn't brought up the way I was. I had to go to school and I had to learn, and not just the school book text, but formal education; the little things. He wasn't taught that.
Even when I was with him in court and he started to get nuts right there in the court room, I said, "Mike, you put yourself here. You shouldn't have bit the man's ear off. You put yourself here; calm down." I knew what he wanted to do, but I told him, "Why don't you try acting a little bit? Make like you're auditioning to be a nice guy." He just couldn't do it and he stomped through and MFed everybody in that courtroom and I was just like, "Oh geez. Here we go again." He just can't hold on to it. I have a friend of mine very dear and close to me. He's been my bodyguard sine I was 18-19 years old. He's a little bit like Mike. You could only say so much to him and then everybody in the vicinity is in harms way. That's just his temperament; that's who he is. Some people never learn to control it. I was never like that. I was always amicable and easy going. If you said the wrong thing or stepped out of line, I would step to the curb with you in 2 seconds quickly and I had no problem with it. The art of diplomacy is difficult to master, but it needs to be learned.
PC: You've fought at both cruiserweight and heavyweight. Why do you think the cruiserweight division has disappeared and why do you think the heavyweights are so bad?
BC: The cruiserweight division never really disappeared, but here is the problem, it's become a wasteland because everybody knows the biggest guy on the block is at heavyweight. As goes the heavyweight division, goes boxing is the way the saying goes. That's how boxing will survive or fall. You could have your De La Hoyas, Trinidads and Hopkins in your lighter weight classes, but they still don't hold the aura of a Mike Tyson, Joe Louis or a Marciano and Holmes. They just can't because those guys are the biggest and best on the block. I think a lot of cruiserweights aren't the cream of the crop with the big guys. The problem is they need the division, and the super cruiserweight division in which I won my last world title, only because these guys are so big these days. Did you see the guy Holyfield fought? I mean, he was 310 pounds. In the old days, if you weighed 182 pounds, you would be fighting him. That doesn't make any sense. In the old days, Joe Louis was 198 pounds, Ali was 212 and Frazier was 206 and they were the biggest of the bunch. Every now and then, you would come across a Buster Mathis, who was heavier, but not better. The top heavyweights were a little over 210 and nowadays, thats a small heavyweight. It's difficult to compete with a man who has similar skills, similar proportional power and speed, but he's 245 and you're 210. Those 35 pounds will wear you down within 10-12 rounds and cause you the fight. That's the same exact reason why a light heavyweight that moves up to fight a heavyweight gets killed 99% of the time. They just can't move the weight.
PC: What do you feel is the biggest difference in boxing now as opposed to when you first got involved as a professional back in 1980?
BC: When I first got involved, there were 15-round fights, which I still believe is still proper. 12-round fights are good for state titles or United States titles or North American championships; that kind of thing. 15 rounds is the definition and standard and a lot of people are against it for a health and safety factor because people were getting hurt late in the 13th and 14th round. A lot of that was due to dehydration and exhaustion, but that's also what makes the sport so special. But having said that, I think that the biggest problem in boxing since I got into it is like I said, there were 3 ranking divisions and a lot of times they almost had to unify every couple of years. Now they have at least 7 and maybe 9 different sanctioning bodies and honest to God, they don't have to account to anyone. They don't have to listen to no one. They can strip anybody at any time they want. Think about this, let's just say you were lucky enough today and good enough to unify all 7 or 8 of those titles. If you have all 8 of them, any one of those sanctioning organizations could say, "You have to fight so and so in 60 days or we're stripping you." What's the validity of that? That holds no real value and it doesn't even reek of being ethical. What it is is extortion. If they give you a mandatory and you don't want to fight your mandatory, they'll say, "Okay, well send us $20,000 overnight and you can do whatever you want." What the hell is that? The sanctioning bodies are a self-ordained and self-appointed group of so called experts who supersede the laws of the United States and 90% of these sanctioning bodies are located in other countries where they have no real law. It makes no sense.
PC: It was an honor speaking to you. I hope things shape up for you this year. Is there anything you want to say in closing?
BC: Boxing is always going to be a great sport and it will always be the single point of man vs. man. It's the ultimate machismo game of who's the biggest and baddest man on the planet. That's how the heavyweight division sees itself. Mike used to say he's the baddest man alive and then you have a couple of those Ultimate Fighters and karate guys that say, "Well, Mike couldn't beat me at this." Well, you couldn't beat Mike at boxing either. It's a different discipline and your discipline isn't yielding 17-20 million dollar paydays because people don't identify with it. Everybody identifies with a good old-fashioned fist fight. As long as there are people, there will be fist fights and as long as there are people, there will be boxing. Hopefully things will get better and people will stand up for what's right, but it doesn't look like it. Now it's just become all about the money. Even the networks get involved and sign promotional agreements, which are okay, but when you sign promotional agreements with a fighter and his promoter something happens. Believe it or not, the promoters pay the judges. The judges are appointed by the commission and the promoter pays them. That's part of his responsibility. Now, the sanctioning bodies, what they'll do is say, "Any one of these 12 judges, we'll accept" because the sanctioning bodies have to accept the judges or they won't sanction it as a title fight. Now you know the fix is in because if 2 out of the 3 of them are with the sanctioning body, the decision is predetermined; especially if it's remotely close, the promoter's fighter and the network fighter will win because that will make them more money on the next promotion. Nobody wants to talk about it on TV. I did it a few times and was told to shut up, so I did.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]