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Articles of 2009

BRUTE XIV: This Thing Was Supposed To Start At Six

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On the far side of the lounge, which opened into the corridor that connected the lobby to the banquet hall, which itself opened onto the patio and the central courtyard, an old man had wandered in. It was clear that he’d just come from the pool, because he wore a short, blue and white bathing suit, and had a towel in his right hand. He stood with his shoulders slumped forward and the loose skin of his stomach hanging over his waistband. A puddle of water was growing around his feet, which suggested that he’d either stumbled in and didn’t know where he was, or didn’t care. The JB Lounge, for all its recent renovations, is not the sort of place that can afford to brandish its pretensions. But nonetheless the room ignored the old man, and in a little while he shuffled out.

The man who’d been denigrating James Irvin finished his congress with Gilbert and came up to the table beside me. The beer the waitress had delivered there stood untouched, and when the man saw it he said, “Is that a beer?” as if the beverage were palm wine and he’d only read about it in an ethnograph.

“I think it’s a Heineken,” said the man who’d ordered it. It was a Hefeweizen, with a slice of lemon on the rim. The Species, Heineken, and the Genus, Hefeweizen, both evolved in northern Europe, but they are as similar as eagle and shrew.

I was starting to feel rather cynical, probably because I was getting ignored. So I took out my phone to call Mehrad, who’d said he was coming to the weigh-ins, but half an hour in hadn’t arrived. Then as the phone rang, Mehrad walked into the lounge with Gerrell and a gaggle of young men drafting behind him. They all had on “Stan the Man” shirts, and were talking and laughing loudly. Until they’d entered, I hadn’t realized how quiet the room had been. Mehrad went directly to Stan’s father, shook his hand, and then sat on the velvet couch behind him. The rest of the group situated itself at the high bar tables in that part of the room. Gerrell went to the counter to get a drink, and standing there he saw me and waved me over. I felt vindicated to have been recognized.

I picked up my pad and went over to them. Gerrell came up and shook my hand. Then Mehrad saw me and stood up, and we shook hands. “How’s it going, man?” Mehrad said. I explained that it was going fine, and we both sat on the couch.

“I was at the gym yesterday,” I said. “I guess Stan did his last sparring on Saturday, so I missed the important stuff. But he still looked good in the ring.”

“He’s pretty ready for this one,” Mehrad said.

The subject of our conversation may have divined that we were talking about him, because he left Niavaroni’s table and joined our group. Niavaroni got up and went to the stage and sat at the long table set up there.

“What happened to Brandon’s guy?” Mehrad asked Stan.

“He hasn’t showed up,” said Stan. “This thing was supposed to start at six.”

Someone amongst the White Tigers, wearing a “Stan the Man” shirt, said, “The last time they didn’t start weighing people until seven thirty.”

“I didn’t make it to the last weigh-ins,” I said, and then added, as if anyone was listening or cared, “I was in Los Angeles.”

From the stage Niavaroni called out, “Reyes,” and the room turned towards him. No one in the audience moved, so after half a minute Niavaroni called out, “Lopez,” and a man, presumably Lopez, got up and went to the scale. I believe we all thought that the actual weighing in was commencing, but Lopez did not strip out of his clothes. Instead he signed a piece of paper that Niavaroni handed him, and returned from whence he’d come. Next Niavaroni called Terrance Jett, the man whom Stan was to fight the following evening, and the Martyniouk camp, into which I’d been incompletely assimilated, watched in silence as he went to Niavaroni. Jett had on a pair of baggy, blue sweatpants and a white shirt that hung below his mid-thigh. His face was very dark and gaunt, and his eyes were sunken back deep in his skull. A large, white man, in camouflage shorts and a black baseball hat as shiny as if it had cut made from vinyl, followed Jett to the stage. He was much taller than Jett, and though he looked as if he could give any man in the room a good fight, he also looked as if he wanted to leave the JB Lounge as quickly as was in keeping with the pomp and decorum of the event. A weigh-in is, after all, the last opportunity a fighter has to intimidate his opponent. If he can frighten his enemy, then his enemy will worry until the first bell. That capacity to daunt is as effective as a good left hook, and Jett, the loser of ten of his fifteen professional fights, whose fists were not particularly threatening, was using all of his wiles to gain an advantage over Stan, including towing behind him a menacing trainer. And Stan, who was watching Jett as closely as he might the man chatting up his girlfriend at a bar, looked almost apprehensive. I will admit that Jett’s face unnerved me. It was as emaciated and severe as if he’d lived through a childhood of famine.

As I had with Mike Simms, I knew I wanted Stan to win. But whereas rooting for Simms had been a sentimental activity—he needed to win so he could pay his child support, and only a sociopath could have maintained objectivity—rooting for Stan to beat Terrance Jett was like rooting for Theseus to beat Periphetes, if Periphetes were an old man who’d pawned his bronze club to buy his daughter a new dress. In fact, rooting for Stan in this circumstance was an anti-sentimental activity, bordering on cold-heartedness. I did not know for sure that Jett, if he lost, was going to leave boxing and find himself unable to care for some bright-eyed child, but his face suggested that he’d once had a lot to lose, and that since he’d slowly lost it.

As I sat on the couch, feeling badly that I did not feel worse for Jett, who I thought was certain to lose, Mike Simms, that great object of my near-sorrow, came into the lounge. He was dressed casually and immaculately, in a white, printed t-shirt, and loose, expensive jeans. Jeff Berger gestured to him and Mike went over. By the way Mike was smiling, it seemed almost as if he thought this gathering was in his honor. But Berger said something to him, at which point Mike, laughing, pulled up his shirt to show, indisputably, that he wasn’t ready for the ring at all. He was softer even than he had been in May. “I go back into the gym tomorrow,” I heard him say.

“When the hell is this thing actually going to happen?” said Mehrad.

“Last time they were hours late,” said Stan’s father, sitting in front of the couch in a chair. To that point he had said very little.

“Maybe they were waiting for Urijah,” said Gerrell from the table beside me. As he spoke I looked up and noticed, as Gerrell must have, that Urijah Faber, looking rather cheerful, had come into the lounge. He had on a “Stan the Man” shirt, also, and was carrying a bottle of Vitamin Water. He went up to Stan, first, and shook hands with him. Stan’s father got out of his chair and shook hands with Urijah, too, and then Niavaroni called Stan’s name and Stan went to the stage. Urijah went to the bar and got a glass of water. Gerrell leaned over to me and said, “Here, man. I’ve been meaning to give you one of these shirts.” He handed me one—it was the design the White Tiger team was wearing—and I held it up. It was much too large, and he probably had not until that moment planned on giving me one, but I was nonetheless flattered to be included.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to wear it to the fight,” I said. Both Gerrell and Mehrad looked a little offended, so I qualified my insult by explaining that it wasn’t a good idea for a journalist—even one as subjective as I’d become—to advertise himself as a partisan. “Although, if I mentioned it in the article,” I said, “then it might be okay.” They laughed, and I was part of the cabal again.

Urijah came back from the bar with his glass of water and talked with Gilbert, who had joined our party sometime while I wasn’t paying attention. I had seen Urijah fight on television a month or so before, when he had defended his World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight title against the assault of the former UFC lightweight champion, Jens “Little Evil” Pulver. The UFC does not stable fighters that weigh less than 155 pounds, while the WEC fields two classes below that ceiling—featherweights, who fight at 145, and bantamweights, who fight at 135. In those categories, the WEC contracts the best mixed martial artists in the world, which, by default and by fact, made Urijah Faber the greatest fighter of his size on the planet.

On the stage Niavaroni had put his head in his hands again, and sensing that we were all going to weather an additional delay before the ceremony continued, I leaned over to Mehrad. “Do you know Urijah?” I asked.

“Sure,” said Mehrad. “Everyone knows Urijah.”

“Is there any way you could introduce us?”

“Sure,” Mehrad said again, getting up from the couch. I followed him the few feet to where Gilbert and Urijah were talking, and we stood, I trying to show reverence, waiting for a natural lull in the conversation. At the first pause, Mehrad said, “Urijah, I’d like to introduce you to someone. This”—and here he indicated to me—“is Kaelan Smith from The Sweet Science.” I put out my hand and Urijah shook it.

“Good to meet you, man,” he said.

I explained, as quickly and casually as I could, that I was a journalist writing about boxing’s relationship to MMA. I told him that I had considered doing a profile on him, which I would juxtapose with my article on Stan, and he seemed interested and acted very polite. It is hard to imagine, when you speak with him face to face, that he can summon sufficient malice while in the ring to break your arm in half, or punch you after you’ve gone unconscious, or choke you until you black out.

“You know,” Urijah said, “sometimes Stan and I spar.”

“I would like to see that,” I said.

“It’s not so good for me,” said Urijah. “Have you seen him box? He’s a foot taller than me.”

I took down his phone number, and he explained that I could find him most days, from eleven till two, working out at the gym. “I’ve heard you’re fighting next in Florida,” I said.

“Hollywood, Florida,” he said. I told him that I would try and make my magazine send me, and he said that I should really try to convince them, and then we shook hands again, and I took my seat on the couch.

By the top of the hour, the real weighing-in had started, with the boxers coming to the stage and shedding their clothes with some timidity; the lounge had not been officially closed for the weigh-ins, and there were confused hotel guests staring in from the ports at either side of the room at the young men standing in their underwear with their hands up, posing for photographs. When Stan went up to the scale, goaded by a cheer from the Tigers, he weighed in a pound under his 135-pound limit, and Jett a pound over. They both looked trim and fast, and now only in their shorts, Jett seemed a formidable opponent. I had to transfer my sentimental energy, therefore, to a young, doughy fighter named John Red Tomahawk who had lost his first two professional fights and had come up from Los Angeles on short notice. He seemed embarrassed to be standing in his boxers. His back was pocked with acne, and when he stood next to his opponent—Gerardo Lopez, a local fighter who was making his debut and had a head’s height advantage—I could see that Tomahawk, for all the pugnacity of his surname, wanted to be back in the south of the state, sitting in a bar, drinking with his construction crew.

Articles of 2009

UFC 108 Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva

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Former champion Rashad Evans meets Brazil’s venerable Thiago Silva in a non-title belt that can lead to a return match with the current champ, but first things first.

Evans (15-1-1) and Silva (14-1) meet in Ultimate Fighting Championship 108 in a light heavyweight bout on Saturday Jan. 2, at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A win by either fighter could result in a world title bid. The fight card is being shown on pay-per-view television.

Events can change quickly in the Octagon and anybody can beat anybody in the 205-pound weight division. Just ask Silva or Evans.

Silva and Evans are both experienced and can vouch firsthand about the capriciousness of fighting in MMA and especially as a light heavyweight. On one day this man can beat that man and on another day, that man can beat this man. It can make you absolutely daffy.

Evans, 30, is the former UFC light heavyweight world champion who only defended his title on one occasion and lost by vicious knockout to current champion Lyoto Machida of Brazil. It’s the only defeat on his record.

Silva, 27, is a well-rounded MMA fighter from Sao Paolo, Brazil who is versed in jujitsu, Muy Thai and boxing. He can end a fight quickly in a choke hold just as easily as with a kick or a punch. His only loss came to who else: Machida.

Evans and Silva know a win can push open the door to a rematch with current UFC light heavyweight champion Machida.

“A win against Rashad would put me in the track against Lyoto,” said Silva, in a telephone conference call. “That's what – what I want to do.”

When Silva fought Machida the two Brazilians were both undefeated and feared in the MMA world. The fight took place in Las Vegas and with one second remaining in the first round a perfectly timed punch knocked Silva unconscious.

“I was humbled big time, man,” says Silva who fought Machida in January 2009. “I learned a lot from that fight.  I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight, not overlooking anything else right now, but just I want to get the chance to fight him again.”

For Evans it was a different circumstance. The upstate New Yorker held the UFC title and was defending it after stopping then champion Forrest Griffin by knockout. Still, many felt Machida was far too technically versed. Evans was stopped brutally in the second round.

“I've made it a point to not – to not get distracted on what I want to do, because you know Thiago (Silva) is a very hungry fighter,” said Evans who has not fought since losing the title to Machida last May. “My focus is just on Thiago so much.  You know I don't want to overlook him, you know, not even a little bit.”

Dana White, president of UFC, says the winner of this fight could conceivably fight Machida in the near future. Evans and especially Silva are motivated by the open window.

“I learned a lot from that fight. I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight,” says Silva. “Not overlooking anything else right now, but I just want to get the chance to fight him again.”

What a prize. The winner gets to face the man who beat him: Machida.

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Articles of 2009

A Very Special New Year's Day Column

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It has been just over four months since Nick Charles, the play-by-play announcer for Shobox: The New Generation, was diagnosed with stage IV bladder cancer and forced to take a medical hiatus from the monthly show that has aired since 2001.

Since then he has undergone grueling chemotherapy treatments that have resulted in him losing all of his hair as he forces himself to live as normal of a life as possible. Through sheer force of will, as well as the strength and support that he receives from his wonderfully loving family and his strong Christian faith, the 63-year-old Charles has managed to keep his weight up while not falling prey to the always lingering threats of depression, cynicism and negativity.

If one was unaware that he was battling such an insidious disease, you’d never know from talking on the phone to him that he has been to hell and back. He has lost none of the inspiring energy that has endeared him to members of the boxing community and legions of worldwide viewers.

“I’m doing great,” Charles said during a telephone conversation on December 30th. “I’ve been off the chemo for a month, and the doctors have told me that I’m 80 percent in remission. I’m going to see them again in three months. It may come back, but if it takes one year, or two years, or however long, I’m going to make the most of the good time.”

As physically and emotionally wrenching as the grim diagnosis and subsequent treatment has been, even for someone as perpetually positive as Charles, the longtime announcer said a lot of good things have come from it.

Having been married three times, Charles is the father of four children: Jason, 38, Melissa, 34, Charlotte, 22, and Giovanna, 3 ½.

While Charles is not big on regrets, he is the first to admit that he wasn’t always there for his older children. For many years he traveled the world as a CNN correspondent, often putting the demands of his career above all else, including those closest to him. Nowhere was the strain more evident than in his relationship with Melissa.

Having been divorced from Melissa’s mother since 1977, Charles said his relationship with that daughter has been especially “hot and cold, all of our lives.”

His illness has enabled them to forge a relationship that has been “based on a massive amount of forgiveness and understanding.”

“This has had a tremendous healing effect on both of us,” said Charles. “My illness has had a fortifying effect on a lot of things, the most important of which is my relationships with my family.”

That also includes his first wife, with whom he has had an often acrimonious relationship over the past three decades.

“It took a long time for the scab to become a scar, but we had lunch one day and it was so great to once again see the gentle, soft sides of each other,” he explained. “The whole divorce process creates a hardness that doesn’t always go away.”

Charles is also the grandfather to three children, some of whom are about the same age as his youngest daughter. He jokes that he has a “nuclear 21st century family” because of the similar ages of two generations of children. One of the hardest things for him has been the realization that he can’t always play with them in manner in which he would like.

“The hemoglobin is the fuel in your tank, so when it’s low you can’t will yourself to do things no matter how much you want to,” said Charles. “You can’t just sleep it off or work through it. I don’t want the kids to wonder why I can’t play in the backyard with them, or kick a soccer ball, or throw them in the air.”

Particularly difficult is when Giovanna reminds her father of how handsome he is, but then innocently asks him what happened to his hair, eyebrows and lashes.

“You try to keep things on a need to know basis, which is not easy when dealing with curious kids,” said Charles.

While Charles might look like the kind of guy that things have often come easy to, the reality is that his beginnings were far from auspicious. But, he says, his often challenging Chicago childhood blessed him with the steely resolve that has helped him so much during the arduous journey he is now on.

“I had it pretty rough growing up,” he explained. “I remember the lights and the heat being shut off and eating mustard sandwiches. I went to work at 13 and always had insecurities about the future. But I always expected and saw the best in people, so when I got sick, never once did I say 'Why me?”

Since taking a leave of absence from Shobox, the outpouring of support from the boxing community has warmed Charles’s heart. For a guy that is battling for his life, he actually considers himself fortunate to be surrounded by so much goodness in both his personal and professional lives.

“I always hear that boxing people are ruthless, but I couldn’t disagree more,” said Charles. “I’ve probably received about 1,000 e-mails, and people are always following in sending their best wishes. From the relatively unknown people in boxing to many of the more famous people, there has been an outpouring of true affection.”

Charles said that the Top Rank organization has been exceedingly kind and gracious. He was touched beyond description when he learned that officials in Oklahoma got special permission to have a seamstress sew “Keep Fighting Nick” onto their sleeves. He chokes up when talking about cut man Stitch Duran giving up an endorsement opportunity so he could put Charles’s name on his outfit. He never tires of hearing shout-outs from fighters on television.

Charles has always been a people person with an inordinate faith in the goodness of his fellow man. Battling this illness has only made his already strong faith in humanity even stronger.

“Adversity is a great teacher, and it really teaches you who your genuine friends are,” said Charles. “I have a lot of friends.”

He also has a remarkable wife, Cory, a CNN producer to whom he has been married for 11 years. She is the daughter of an electrician, a self-made woman who exudes all of the warmth of her native Brooklyn. She has reinforced her husband’s spiritual base by her love, optimism and strength of character.

“If I get down, she reminds me to not get too caught up,” said Charles. “I believe in eternity, and that has put me pretty much at peace.”

More than anything else, Charles wants to get himself back behind a microphone sooner rather than later, and hopefully on Shobox. He is the first to admit that viewers “don’t watch the series to see Nick Charles,” but he is proud of the fact that he was “part of the identity” of such a popular show.

“And people love comeback stories,” added Charles. “That’s the message I’m getting from the people out there.”

In boxing the word “champion” is often overused because it pertains only to winning belts and receiving worldwide recognition for being the best at your craft. The reality is that life’s real champions have other qualities, such as the innate ability to treat people well and always make them feel better about themselves, especially when the recipients of the goodwill are in no position to give them anything back.

By that standard of measure, Charles is as much, if not more of a champion than all of the boxers he has covered during the nine years that Shobox has been on the air.

I know I speak for scores of others when I say, “Happy New Year, Champ. We hope that you are the comeback story of the year in 2010.”

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Articles of 2009

No One Is Leaving This Stage Of Negotiations Looking GOLDEN

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Early in his political career, the young Lyndon Baines Johnson served as a congressional aide to Rep. Richard Kleberg, the wealthy owner of the King Ranch who was elected to seven consecutive terms in the House of Representatives, at least in part because he often ran unopposed.

One year an upstart rival politician we'll call Joe Bob had the temerity to challenge Kleberg in the Democratic primary, resulting in the convocation of the Texas congressman's staff to plot an election strategy. Several ideas were kicked around before Kleberg himself came up with a brainstorm.

“Why don't we start a rumor that he [copulates with] sheep?” proposed the politician.

This was a bit over the top, even for Lyndon Johnson. The future president leapt to his feet and said, incredulously, “But you know Joe Bob don't [copulate with] sheep!”

“Yeah,” replied the congressman, “but watch what happens when the son of a bitch has to stand up and deny it!”

******

Events of the past week or two have seen the Floyd Mayweather camp adopt a similar tactic with regard to Manny Pacquiao.  But if introducing what would appear to be a red-herring issue — the debate over drug-testing procedures — to the negotiating process was intended as a negotiating ploy, it would appear for the moment to have backfired.  The idea might have been to force Pacquiao to go on the defensive, but Pac-Man instead responded with his stock in trade, the counterpunch — in this case the multi-million dollar defamation suit he filed against the Mayweathers, pere et fils,, with the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

In boxing even more than in life, you never say never, but you'd have to say that Pacquiao-Mayweather is a dead issue right now, at least in its March 13 incarnation. Bob Arum says Pacquiao is prepared to move along to another opponent, and Mayweather is supposedly looking at Matthew Hatton in England.

We'll believe that when we see it, for at least three reasons: (1) There would hardly seem to be enough money in that one to make it worth Floyd's time, (2) He's going to have to put so much into preparing a defense to this lawsuit that he mightn't have time to train and (3) He'd get a better workout if he stayed in Vegas and boxed one of Uncle Roger's girl opponents.

*****

Colleagues on this site have already done a good job of dissecting this process. Ron Borges is absolutely correct in noting that in the midst of all the posturing that's gone on, you'd be a fool to accept at face value anything coming out of any of the parties' mouths. And Frank Lotierzo is spot on in noting that if you had absolutely no desire to actually get in the ring with Manny Pacquiao but were still looking to save face, you'd do pretty much exactly what Mayweather has done. Which is to say, talk tough while you get others to run interference with a series of actions seemingly calculated to ensure that the fight doesn't come off.

But left almost unscathed in all of this heretofore has been the convoluted role played by Golden Boy — by CEO Richard Schaefer, by the company's namesake Oscar the Blogger, GBP's subsidiary enterprise, The Ring, and at least a few of the lap-dogs and lackeys whose favor GPB has cultivated elsewhere in the media.

In late March of 2008, Shane Mosley and Zab Judah appeared at a New York press conference to announce a fight between them in Las Vegas two months later. As it happened, the BALCO trial had gotten underway out in California that week. That day I sat with Judah and his attorney Richard Shinefield as they explained that they intended to ask that both boxers agree to blood testing in the runup to the fight. Citing Mosley's history with BALCO and its products The Cream and The Clear (which Shane claimed Victor Conte had slipped him when he wasn't looking), Shinefield and Zab, noting that Nevada drug tests were limited to urinalysis, proposed that the supplementary tests be administered by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Want to know what Richard Schaefer's response to that was?

“Whatever tests [the NSAC] wants them to take, we will submit to, but we are not going to do other tests than the Nevada commission requires,” said Schaefer. “The fact is, Shane is not a cheater and he does not need to be treated like one.”

But the fact is that Mosley had a confirmed history as a cheater. Manny Pacquiao does not. Yet in the absence of a scintilla of evidence or probable cause, less than two years later Schaefer was howling that the very integrity of the sport would be at risk unless Pacquiao submitted to precisely the same sort of testing he had rejected for Mosley.

And you thought it was Arum who was famous for saying “Yeah, but yesterday I was lying. Today I'm telling the truth!”

Schaefer, by the way, defended his 180-degree turnabout by saying he is now better educated on the issue. He couldn't resist aiming a harpoon at the media by adding that many sportswriters “don't know the difference between blood and urine testing.”

Don't know how to break this to you, Richard, but sportswriters, who have had to deal with this stuff for the past twenty years, probably know more about drug-testing procedures than any other group you could name.

*****

Now, the reasonable assumption would be that by assuming the role of the point man in this unseemly mess, Schaefer was insulating his boss (De La Hoya) and his fighter (PBF) by keeping their fingerprints off it while he made a fool of himself publicly conducting this snide little campaign.  

And yes, Money would have stayed out of the line of fire had not a two-month old, expletive-filled rant in which he described the Philippines as the world's foremost producer of performance-enhancing drugs not exploded on the internet at the most inopportune moment. That the lawsuit was filed less than 24 hours after “Floyd Meets the Rugged Man” overtook the Tiger Watch probably wasn't a coincidence.

And we're assuming that this Dan Petrocelli, the lawyer who filed Pacquiao's suit, knows what he's doing, because if there were an even one-zillionth chance that somebody could credibly link Manny to PEDs, then it was a pretty dumb thing to do. You could ask Roger Clemens about that.  Clemens' transformation from Hall of Famer-in-waiting to nationwide laughingstock didn't come from the Mitchell Report. It came from his wrongheaded decision to file a lawsuit against Brian McNamee, which in turn threw everything open to the discovery process.

*****

De La Hoya, in the meantime, was playing both sides of the fence. He let Schaefer play Bad Cop as he distanced himself from the negotiating process, but simultaneously was sniping away at Pacquiao from his First Amendment-protected perch as a Ring.com blogger.

“If Pacquiao, the toughest guy on the planet, is afraid of needles and having a few tablespoons of blood drawn from his system, then something is wrong…  I'm just saying that now people have to wonder: 'Why doesn't he want to do this?' Why is [blood testing] such a big deal?' wrote Oscar the Blogger. “A lot of eyebrows have been raised. And this is not good.”

Ask yourself this: Exactly what caused those eyebrows to be raised, other than the innuendo coming straight from Oscar's company?

Providing De La Hoya with a forum from which to dispense propaganda  only begins to illustrate the hopelessly compromised position from which The Ring continues to operate. They might as well give Schaefer a column, too, while they're at it.

Nearly seven months have elapsed since we last visited the Ring/Golden Boy relationship, and at the risk of winding Nigel up, it might be useful here to note that in the midst of last June's discourse, The Ring's editor offered a laundry list of the magazine's covers since the De La Hoya takeover as a demonstration of Golden Boy's restraint.

After listing them, Nigel Collins wrote “that's 28 covers over the course of 21 issues, of which Top Rank had 12 fighters, as opposed to eight for Golden Boy and eight for other promotional entities. Obviously, The Ring has shown no bias to Golden Boy when it comes to magazine covers.”

It had never even been suggested that the conflict of interest extended to the magazine playing favorites in choosing its cover subjects, but since Nigel brought it up it is probably worth noting now that of those eight covers given over to “other promotional entities,” two were of David Haye, whose promoter was properly listed as “Hayemaker,” but who had also signed a promotional deal with Golden Boy in May of 2008. (Just last month GBP issued a release in De La Hoya's name in which it described itself as “Golden Boy Promotions, the United States promoter of World Boxing Association Heavyweight World Champion David Haye.”)

And even more to the point, in four other issues Nigel Collins offered in evidence the cover subject was Floyd Mayweather (Independent), although what has transpired with regard to the Pacquiao fight doesn't make Money look very independent at all, does it?

We don't regularly keep track of these things, but in making sure we didn't misquote  Oscar's Blog we also came across a representation of the January 2010 issue on The Ring's website.  The picture on the cover of the Bible of Boxing is of the Golden Boy himself, and the cover story “De La Hoya: The Retirement Interview.”

Wow! Now there's a hot topic for crusading journalists.

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