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How To Rebuild American Boxing?

By Scoop Malinowski

Ten years ago in 2011 I wrote this article and asked the question: How does American boxing rebuild itself, from these dismal days of Floyd Mayweather running from $50-100 million to box Manny Pacquiao and James Kirkland getting knocked out by a Japanese journeyman, to the golden days of Leonard, Hearns, Hagler, Tyson, Holmes, Holyfield? Fans and insiders offer their suggestions and inputs…

Earl Lee Riser:  American boxing doesn’t need to rebuild. They already produce lots of great fighters of the sport compared to the other countries. American boxing did a lot of things to make the sport more colorful and a lot more exciting. And America is still the main destination of the sport.

Bill Ma: American boxing is has changed over the years. They are more into the entertainment outside of boxing instead inside the ring. There is a lot more lip service and trash talking outside the ring while bringing boring fights in the ring. Trainers and promoter should emphasize that their fighters have to fight instead of running constantly. Hugging and clinching. I remember that last fight with Devon Alexander and Tim Bradley where it was heavily hyped, “Which zero has to go?” And when it came to fight night, it was an awful mess. Extremely boring, lacking in action, and nobody was on the edge of their seat. We should look at the Mexican fighters and look at their audience. Why has Mexican boxing become just as popular as ever in Mexico? They have impressive ratings when they brought back boxing in terrestrial tv. It is because these fighters provide a lot of action. Sometimes when I hear slick fighters, I kind of cringe because often it means boring. Ali was a slick fighter that wasn’t afraid to engage. Make the fighters fight, and it will bring American boxing back. Why do we still talk about great fights like Gatti vs Ward, two mid average fighters that brought one of the most exciting fights in history of boxing. It is due to these two fighters willing to lay it all on the line inside the ring. Thats boxing. Not running or a lot of clinching.

Voltaire Amogues: Lifetime ban to those who duck. Send Al Haymon  back to the music industry and pressure those coward, protected boxers.

Guadalupe Gonzales: Tell the boxers it’s not how much money you want to get, it’s about what type of impact you want leave for the sport. As for Kirkland, if he wants it bad enough correct the mistake and, get a get-well fight asap. A loss isn’t the end of the journey, its a speed bump. The best fighters have losses – Manny Pacquiao for example.

Petar Djukic:  Get them to fight in a Super Six style tournament. Careers will be made, careers will be broken, but at least they will fight names and tough opponents and all of us who want American boxing to come back have to boycott all the mismatches, look at the Khan fight – Sky had to pull out because apparently barely 50 bought it on pay-per-view. If this happened in America, HBO would have to put on the proper fights not mismatches. And Cotto-Pacman was the first fight in ages I saw two great opponents share a ring. It freaked me out to be honest. I wasn’t used to it usually you focus on one fighter but having two masters in there it was weird focusing on two. 

Benny Henderson Jr.: Trying to figure that out makes my head hurt.

Renaldo Snipes:  The solution is recession or depression – back to being hungry.

Jhong Jong:  Americans generated more great fighters than any other country in the history of the sport. Most of them have made the history of this sport and will be remembered forever.

Mario Eusebio Delmindo: All the glories are all in the past, we are talking about now. The rebuilding process starts in the amatuer level.

Michael Canja:  To begin the renovation…GET RID OF FLOYD!

Bill Ma:  Some fighters think all they have to do is run their mouth and that’s it. I remember just watching this loud mouth kid Adrien Broner. Runnng his mouth, over confident and boring as hell to watch. He was trying to fight like Floyd and totally didn’t respect his opponent Daniel Ponce De Leon. Many thought Ponce De Leon won the fight but Broner was given this fight. In some rounds Broner was barely throwing a punch while Ponce De Leon was punting on the pressure. Ponce De Leon was clearly the active fighter in the ring. In the end, everyone was practically criticizing the kid Broner, that he should be left out of TV. His style was so boring.

Mario Costa (former assistant trainer of Mike Tyson, manager of Arturo Gatti): I think the fighters are completely spoiled, too many toys, too many things. They don’t work hard. Tyson said it was all about hard work. He said he worked very hard in the gym and he turned into a beast. He said he would sometimes look better in the gym than he did in his fights. He worked very hard. Back then there were no phones, no parties, no drugs. They were more serious. Nowadays, there’s too many things that make them get off their training. They don’t concentrate, they don’t focus. The discipline is not there.

To be continued. Stay tuned for Part 2…

Philip H. Anselmo:  Great answer by Mario Costa in Part 1. I might have to feed off him here, but won’t…I think, initially, HBO can be blamed for boxing’s recent lull.  First, there’s Phloyd Fakeweather. HBO’s insistence that he’s pound-for-pound the best in the sport is a travesty.  Here’s a guy (Phloyd) who’s a very gifted fighter who has never taken a true chance in his entire career!  Not to mention, his fights are one-sided and boring for the most part.  Fakeweather won’t fight the best competition, period.  And that fight is with Manny Pacquiao, but he won’t take the fight?  That’s ridiculous.  No wonder MMA is sweeping boxing under the rug.  The best fight the best in MMA.  What do we get out of boxing’s supposed “best”?  Nothing.  And HBO still supports Fakeweather.  HBO covers – or covered – Manny Pacquiao fights too, eh?  Well, he’s a Filipino guy… a star from another country… the absolute BEST in the sport at his weight, right?  Then why not televise the Klitschko brothers?  Are they not the BEST in their weight class?  Heck, they’re amongst boxing’s elite, no matter the weight class.  And what a story!
HBO has taken the Heavyweight Championship away from me and anyone else who cares about the lineage of the greatest prize in sports.  Showtime and the other pay networks can be blamed here too.  Wladimir and Vitali are the absolute best in the division – they are brothers, and their story is history in the making.  We are in the midst of their very unique careers.  But instead, HBO invests in fights like Tim Bradley- Devon Alexander?  Gimme a break!  That had “Bore-Fest” written all over it two seconds after the fight was announced.
No offense to Tim, who was trying to make a fight of it, but it was what it was… dull and a letdown.And the Klitschko’s are boring according to HBO’s (sic) Rich Schaeffer? (Schaeffer is not offocially affiliated with HBO, he is the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions). Watch one of Phloyd’s fights… or one of Golden Boy’s up-and-coming “prospects”… ugh!  And how about HBO’s former love affair with club fighter Cris Arreola? Laughable.  Straight-up, when the best don’t fight the best, it hurts the sport.  And taking the Heavyweight Championship away from the paying customer’s TV set(s) only rubs our noses in the fact our sport is hurting in a bad way.
I heard HBO might suck it up and pick up the Klitschko brother’s next fights… Wladimir vs. Haye, Vitali vs. Adamek… my question is, Is it too late?  People need to SEE fighters to give a fuck about them in the first place!   Especially Wladimir vs. Haye.  That fight should be HUGE but it’s really just a “core” fan’s fight here in the US, not a fan’s fight, which it should be.  Had HBO shown more of Haye, people in the U.S. would know who the heck he is enough to form an opinion.   We all know HBO boycotted Wladimir a long time ago.  There’s been no build-up. Vitali- Adamek is a dull matchup compared to Wladimir-Haye, but we’ve seen both Adamek and Vitali more than Wladimir-Haye.  That’s lame. And that’s the way I see it.
Give us back the Heavyweight Championship and force Phloyd into fighting Pac Man, instead of him forcing YOU OUT of fights, HBO! Spend some friggin’ money and make it happen.   

Drew Murray:  Boxing needs a homegrown white heavyweight…a Brock Lesnar who boxes.

Mark Buchanan: We go back to what has always worked, especially in the gyms. When fighters get money, it sometimes ruins them because they are used to digging and scratching for everything they get. They think they can trust the people that like them, and are often wrong. Nothing is given to the true warrior. He earns everything he gets, especially the sparring partners and they love it, especially if he studies the game. Promoters and managers still take the fighter to be a dummy and often steal from him. Boxing is not a mainstream sport on TV anymore not because of the lack of popularity, but the greed of promoters who want to get the money with pay per view. You never see a bout between contenders on national TV as we use to in the past. It will continue to die as we have all of these organizations.

Elvin Ventucillo: A centralized, single governing body should be established that will rank all boxers across different associations. Rank number 1 and 2 should fight each other, as well as 3 and 4, 5 and 6 and so on, winners improve rank, losers slide down a bit. If a fighter refuses to fight somebody, he should be suspended and slide in the ranking. That way you can be sure, the champion at the top really fought the best and defeated them. That way no cherry-picker and constant retiree like Floyd would get the honor they don’t deserve.

Joe Abba:  Here’s my top ten list, in no particular order.
1. Make referees deduct points for excessive holding. It makes people hate watching boxing. 2. Get rid of old judges, and start building up new, impartial ones. They have tainted countless good fights, with bogus decisions. 3. A Federal boxing commission to regulate the entire sport, provide health care, bargain fair wages for ALL fighters, not just the few rich ones. Then, fighters might consider boxing for a living, instead of the NBA or NFL again…4. Instant replay for disputed calls. This is not 1970. 5. Fire Kery Davis, Ross Greenburg, and the entire staff, and get some new blood in there….BOXING people, not suits. 6. Stricter regulations and requirements for promoters, managers and trainers…this will make better fighters and better fights. 7. Make fighters earn based upon their draw….If this was true, Andre Berto would not be very wealthy, but Tomasz Adamek would be a multi millionaire. 8. Pay bonuses for KO’s and for exciting fights. 9. Good fight cards from top to bottom….not just the main event. 10. Ask Al Haymon to leave the sport for good.

Zachary Levin:  Something Larry Merchant often says, particularly about the heavyweights, is someday someone will come along who will capture the public’s imagination. Just like Tyson did, and Ali before him, And Marciano and Joe Louis. In some ways, it is just that simple. One charismatic figure can change the landscape. Look at what Pacman has done and the affect he’s had on his country. That said, I think that the lethargy of the U.S. boxing scene is the result of numerous systemic problems…too many to recount in a single paragraph. Blame falls on promoters who don’t promote and refuse to work with others and just don’t match the best and against the best consistently, be it for their main events or their undercards. Blame falls on TV execs who make terrible choices and just don’t seem to have a feel or passion for the sport. Blame falls on the nature of the game, the wild west aspect, where there’s no central authority and thus, what should be the sport’s Super Bowl (Pacquiao-Mayweather) doesn’t get made. The inmates truly run the asylum. There is no infrastructure. It’s fine that a major fighter or promoter or network has a degree power and control, but in boxing, they seem to make up all the rules too. See, no one controls a Bob Arum when decides to take his ball and plays by himself. And that shouldn’t be. There should be penalties for exhbiting behavior detrimental to the sport…and the good things he does, does not excuse the bad. Same with all the others. A Gary Shaw should be punished not rewarded when he fails in his duties as a promoter. There’s no oversight and thus no repercussions. But how do you get around this in a free and open, wild west market? I would love to see a great commissioner and central authority overseeing the game. I’d love to see American prizefighting under the auspices of something like the NFL and have a great brand developed. And since it’s one of the most global sports, figure out a way to incorporate the Asian, African and European markets. A pipe dream? Yeah, probably. But U.S. boxing is where it is for a reason. And whether a Kirkland or Berto or Ortiz or whoever fail to deliver, the industry shouldn’t hinge on such things.

Aaron Braunstein:  The Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of The World, is the most coveted of all sports awards and prizes. It means The Champ is the strongest, baddest man on the planet. Prizefighting always works off the Heavyweight Champ. For example, when I was a kid we had Ali, you had Tyson, On top of that, the Heavyweight champ must be American and have a controversial life. Ali with Religion, black is beautiful, Tyson with all his legal troubles, Barbara Walters, Robin Givens, etc. Klitschko is too perfect. 40-0 38 KO’S. Not believable to fans. My life isn’t 40-0 more like 40-28. Freudian. No one can relate to the Klitschko Brothers. We must have an American Heavyweight to salvage prizefighting.

John Scully:  Put boxing back on network TV and you have instant rebuild. Maybe start off with two fights a month to draw interest. Or maybe get a series like USA Tuesday Night Fight back on the air. The biggest problem is that Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz, for example, are good fighters but they aren’t nearly as recognizable to boxing fans as Donald Curry was back in 1985 and that’s simply because by that time Donald had been on network TV several times and was known. Actual exposure to people is the only way to make a real name for yourself and the fact is not everybody can afford pay-per-view and not everybody has cable TV. But everyone has network TV.

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