Thursday, July 3, 2008

Two black eyes for boxing.

Boxing seems to have a lower media profile these days. Not as flashy as professional wrestling, and seemingly restrained in comparison to MMA, boxing seems to be occupying a niche between the two. Low on star power (quick, name the World Heavyweight Champion) and feeling the heat from competing sports, you'd think any high-profile boxing story would be good news.

And you'd be wrong.

First off, we had the Soto/Lorenzo WBC super featherweight championship bout in Las Vegas over the weekend. The result was a disqualification victory for Lorenzo after the referee called a foul on Soto that had resulted in a head injury that left Lorenzo unable to continue.

It was, it turned out, a bad call on the ref's part, compounded by the fact that Lorenzo, who up until that point had been getting the snot beat out of him by Soto, had faked the injury in order to grab the DQ win. Classy. The WBC, sensibly, refused to declare Lorenzo its champion after reviewing the tainted victory.

But this morning on Yahoo!, boxing columnist Kevin Iole had a different take, saying that Lorenzo should be champion now, because he won and "rules are rules".

I disagree with Mr. Iole. His approach leaves no room for judgement or good sense. Even while he was advocating giving the belt to Lorenzo, he wrote that Lorenzo's fake-out was "an acting job the likes of which haven’t been seen since Jack Nicholson in 'As Good As It Gets' in 1997 [sic]". And this is the guy you'd want as a champion?

Anyway, Yahoo! headlined Iole's column, advocating rewarding Lorenzo for playing dirty pool. Good thing I'd finished my coffee by then, or my monitor would need replacing thanks to a spit-take worthy of Danny Thomas.

Boxing's other big hit this week took place outside of the ring, courtesy of... oy... Mike Tyson. A racketeering case linked Iron Mike to a murder-for-hire plot in his old neighborhood. From the reports on the story I've seen, the witness linking Tyson to this seems about as far from credible as you can get, and I deeply hope it's not true. Even given Tyson's often erratic behavior outside the ring, plunking down fifty grand to have two men killed seems out of character, a cold-blooded act from a man whose temper runs notoriously hot.

But it's Tyson, so regardless of whether the story is true or not, all it takes to confirm it in the minds of his critics is for him to deny it.

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