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Al Bernstein a Winner on ESPN’s PacMan-Horn Coverage, and He Wasn’t Even There

Bernard Fernandez



Ho-hum. Another night (or afternoon) of boxing, another slew of controversies that serve to sully the sport’s credibility at a critical juncture when most signs were pointing toward an upswing in popularity and the quality of the product itself. It’s like the reverse of a familiar saying: every silver lining has a dark cloud.

As stickups go, the unanimous decision for Australia’s Jeff Horn, who lifted Manny Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight championship on a unanimous decision Saturday night (U.S. time) or Sunday afternoon (local time Down Under) in Horn’s hometown of Brisbane, wasn’t a pugilistic re-creation of the Brink’s Job. Nor was it an epic upset to rival Buster Douglas’ stunner over Mike Tyson in Tokyo in 1990. It was more like a heist at your neighborhood convenience store, another aberration of justice by three befuddled judges wielding pencils instead of Saturday Night Specials, but it was hardly the crime of the century. At 38, faded legend Manny Pacquiao seemingly had done enough to merit his 60th career victory, but he was noticeably slower than the fantastic phenom imbedded in our memories, and he was more fully extended than even a diminished version of himself should have been against an eager and spunky kid (29) who likely wouldn’t have lasted three rounds against, say, the elite likes of Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman or Terence Crawford.

On a night (or afternoon, pick your reality) when fight fans, at least those in America, should have been celebrating the return of kind-of-big-time boxing on ESPN, freeing the huddled masses from the financial tyranny of pay-per-view,  an event which might have provided some measure of clarity in certain areas instead generated more questions than answers. As a public service, please allow your humble correspondent to attempt to separate fact from fiction.

Winners: Al Bernstein and Teddy Atlas. Loser: Stephen A. Smith.

Remember when Bernstein commendably served as color analyst for the entire 18-year run of the Top Rank Boxing series on ESPN? The man obviously knows his stuff, as evidenced by his 2012 induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and winning of the Sam Taub Award for excellence in broadcast journalism from the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1988. The main event hadn’t even begun when Bernstein, who was back home in Las Vegas and not a part of the ESPN telecast, scored major points with a Facebook post about one of the studio commentators for the show, the always-excitable Stephen A. Smith. Smith had made disparaging comments about the quality of several of Horn’s opponents, which seemingly reflected a lack of research on his part. Bernstein’s post read in part:

I seldom criticize sportscasting colleagues, BUT I cringe when announcers who don’t really follow boxing denigrate fighters for no reason. Perhaps before Stephen A. Smith said that Horn opponents Randall Bailey and Ali Funeka “give new meaning to the term no names” he might have done 5 minutes of research and realized that Bailey only 5 years ago was a world champion and as recently as 6 years ago Funeka fought twice for a world title. Are they household names to all sports or boxing fans … no. Were they aging fighters that Horn could build his name with … yes. But within the sport they are not no names. It is awful to read their names and a few others in a mocking tone and suggest they’re some kind of bums. These two men had excellent careers.

Nor was Smith – whose primary area of expertise is the NBA — just dismissive of some of the guys Horn had defeated. He took a shot at Horn himself, which would have been all right had he deigned to learn more than he did, which was almost nothing, about the man who would be in the opposite corner from Pacquiao. Wrote Bernstein:

When asked “what do you have on Jeff Horn?” Smith said, “gotta admit don’t have much on this dude.” Really? How could you admit that on National TV when you are paid to cover this “dude.” Then he denigrated Horn’s opponents without knowing anything about them … When I have covered other sports beyond boxing I make it my business to NOT overreach and make statements on no knowledge. Instead I actually prepare, so that I can stay in my lane, be factual, and do the job I’m being paid for.

Full disclosure: Stephen A. Smith was a reporter and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer when I was on the sports staff at the Philadelphia Daily News. We aren’t exactly tight, but we’ve always had a reasonably cordial relationship on those occasions when we’ve been around one another. So, like Bernstein, I am always hesitant to be critical of other media members because I don’t profess to know all there is about every sport. But when you are thrust into a situation where you’re in over your head, you’d best try to do whatever you can to get up to speed. Once I was assigned to cover the 1995 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Providence, R.I. So I did everything I could to learn more about Nicole Bobek, Nancy Kwan and Todd Eldredge, and after they skated their way to medals, I tape-recorded their responses to questions posed by reporters who were actually familiar with double toe-loops and triple axels. Basically, I faked my way through a couple of stories that, I’m relieved to say, read as if they were written by someone who had at least a rudimentary knowledge of the sport and the principals.

Given that ESPN will soon televise fight cards headlined by such major stars as Vasyl Lomachenko (who will defend his WBO super featherweight title against Miguel Marriaga on Aug. 5 in Los Angeles) and Terence Crawford (in a super lightweight unification bout with Julius Indongo on Aug. 19 in Lincoln, Neb.), my advice to ESPN honchos would be to have someone give pop-quizzes to Stephen A. – who I honestly believe likes boxing — before he goes back on camera, to make sure he doesn’t again appear to be clutching at straws. Possible alternatives would be to replace him with ESPN boxing writers Dan Rafael (who doesn’t cut a particularly dashing figure on TV, but then neither do I) or Nigel Collins, or maybe with Al Bernstein if he can be hired on loan from Showtime.

Now, on to Atlas. With his thick Staten Island accent, Teddy, who’s no less passionate in his approach than Stephen A. Smith, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But, hey, he’s knowledgeable, unflinchingly honest and viewers always know exactly where he’s coming from. Scoring the bout 116-111 for Pacquiao, Atlas didn’t hedge or haw on his take as to the assessments of judges Waleska Roldan, Chris Flores and Ramon Cerdan, who scored the fight for Horn by respective margins of 117-111 (outrageous), 115-113 and 115-113.

“I don’t care how much heart (Horn) showed, how much resilience he showed, how great the fans (a pro-Horn crowd of 51,052 in Suncorp Stadium),” Atlas said. “Pacquiao won that fight. He landed the cleaner punches for the most part of the fight, almost knocked him out in the ninth round. This was hometown – home country – scoring, and I think again, for me at least, one of the problems with this great sport.”

Opinions will differ, of course, and British writer Steve Bunce, an ESPN contributor, served up a viewpoint diametrically opposed to Atlas’. His story read in part:

On Sunday afternoon in Brisbane (Pacquiao) was pushed, hit, cut and made to look old, predictable and slow at times by an Australian called Jeff Horn … at the final bell Pacquiao looked like a beaten man and he was: one crazy score of 117-111 for Horn was way off, but the other two judges delivered identical but correct scores of 115-113. Horn had beaten the legend, won the belt and somehow found himself in the very centre of a spectacular debate about the scoring. The outrage from people in the boxing business who should know better was close to pantomime at times … Horn deserved his two-round win, Pacquiao looked utterly dreadful for six rounds and hopefully the Australian will get the recognition he deserves – after everybody stops screaming hysterics about a robbery.

Not that punch statistics are the end-all, be-all of any boxing debate, but chew on these numbers: Pacquiao landed 182 of 573 (32 percent) to 92 of 625 (15 percent) for Horn. Bunce is correct, this version of Manny Pacquiao bears little resemblance to the force of nature that blew away Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton, but he still did enough to retain his title.

Winners: Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor. Losers: Fringe or non-boxing fans who will be taken to the PPV cleaners on Aug. 26.

So the “legitimate” boxing match involving a living legend, while entertaining and competitive, ends in still another mystifying decision and bruised feelings? That can only serve to steer more of the fringe and non-boxing set toward the freak show that is Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. UFC star Conor McGregor. That fraudulent production will surely generate huge PPV numbers, after which the suckers who spent a not-insignificant part of their disposable income on an eminently disposable attraction will come away saying, “Huh? Is that all there is?”  Real boxing will take a hit it won’t deserve, and the M&M boys will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Losers: Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn.

Manny deserved a better outcome, but let’s face it: the days of his commanding global attention, and correspondingly fat purses, are over. Even if “Pac Man” gets a rematch with Horn and wins it, his dream of a do-over with Mayweather is as far gone as the era when wooly mammoths roamed the earth. He still has name value, but no longer carries the kind of hammer that makes him a must-see attraction to the public or TV executives. Hey, it happens to all the greats who stay too long at the fair. Muhammad Ali lost to Trevor Berbick and Bernard Hopkins to Joe Smith Jr. Does anyone really want to see Manny hang on for ever-decreasing paydays, as was the case when Sugar Ray Robinson played out the string in towns like Steubenville, Ohio, and Johnstown, Pa.?

Now, back to Horn. Congratulations, young man. You didn’t actually deserve to beat the grand old man, but you got the decision and you now have a shiny championship belt. You also appear to harboring the illusion that you’re now ready to move on to Floyd Mayweather Jr., another golden oldie who has a lot more gas left in his tank than Manny does, or maybe unification bouts with Spence or Thurman, both of whom would beat you lopsided. You’re a tough kid, hardly chopped liver and you deserve to enjoy your moment in the sun. But somewhere down the road cold reality awaits, and with it the sobering understanding that you are not and never shall be the second coming of Jeff Fenech. Jeff Harding, maybe, and that ain’t all bad when you stop and think about it.

Losers: Waleska Roldan and WBO president Francisco Valcarcel.

I believe there’s a nice two-for-one sale at Visionworks, Ms. Roldan. More than likely, there’s a branch office near you in New York City. Also, congratulations on being forever linked with C.J. Ross.  You and she apparently have much in common, being boxing judges with impaired eyesight and dubious judgment. Oh, and don’t forget to send Mr. Valcarcel a thank-you note for that all-expenses-paid trip to Australia. Hope you enjoyed the sights and weren’t too distracted by all that boxing nonsense.

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READ: Fast Results From Brisbane: Jeff Horn Upsets Pac-Man in a Shocker




The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges

Arne K. Lang



In an unprecedented development, the Boxing Writers Association of America has started a “watch list” to lift the curtain on ring officials who have “screwed up.” Veteran Texas referee Laurence Cole and Nebraska judges Mike Contreras and Jeff Sinnett have the unwelcome distinction of being the first “honorees.”

“Boxing is a sport where judges and referees are rarely held accountable for poor performances that unfairly change the course of a fighter’s career and, in some instances, endanger lives,” says the BWAA in a preamble to the new feature. Hence the watch list, which is designed to “call attention to ‘egregious’ errors in scoring by judges and unacceptable conduct by referees.”

Contreras and Sinnett, residents of Omaha, were singled out for their scorecards in the match between lightweights Thomas Mattice and Zhora Hamazaryan, an eight round contest staged at the WinnaVegas Casino in Sloan, Iowa on July 20. They both scored the fight 76-75 for Mattice, enabling the Ohio fighter to keep his undefeated record intact via a split decision.

Although Mattice vs. Hamazaryan was a supporting bout, it aired live on ShoBox. Analyst Steve Farhood, who was been with ShoBox since the inception of the series in 2001, called it one of the worst decisions he had ever seen. Lead announcer Barry Tompkins went further, calling it the worst decision he has seen in his 40 years of covering the sport.

Laurence Cole (pictured alongside his father) was singled out for his behavior as the third man in the ring for the fight between Regis Prograis and Juan Jose Velasco at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans on July 14. The bout was televised live on ESPN.

In his rationale for calling out Cole, BWAA prexy Joseph Santoliquito leaned heavily on Thomas Hauser’s critique of Cole’s performance in The Sweet Science. “Velasco fought courageously and as well as he could,” noted Hauser. “But at the end of round seven he was a thoroughly beaten fighter.”

His chief second bullied him into coming out for another round. Forty-five seconds into round eight, after being knocked down for a third time, Velasco spit out his mouthpiece and indicated to Cole that he was finished. But Cole insisted that the match continue and then, after another knockdown that he ruled a slip, let it continue for another 35 seconds before Velasco’s corner mercifully threw in the towel.

Controversy has dogged Laurence Cole for well over a decade.

Cole was the third man in the ring for the Nov. 25, 2006 bout in Hildalgo, Texas, between Juan Manuel Marquez and Jimrex Jaca. In the fifth round, Marquez sustained a cut on his forehead from an accidental head butt. In round eight, another accidental head butt widened and deepened the gash. As Marquez was being examined by the ring doctor, Cole informed Marquez that he was ahead on the scorecards, volunteering this information while holding his hand over his HBO wireless mike. The inference was that Marquez was free to quit right then without tarnishing his record. (Marquez elected to continue and stopped Jaca in the next round.)

This was improper. For this indiscretion, Cole was prohibited from working a significant fight in Texas for the next six months.

More recently, Cole worked the 2014 fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Orlando Salido at the San Antonio Alamodome. During the fight, Salido made a mockery of the Queensberry rules for which he received no point deductions and only one warning. Cole’s performance, said Matt McGrain, was “astonishingly bad,” an opinion echoed by many other boxing writers. And one could site numerous other incidents where Cole’s performance came under scrutiny.

Laurence Cole is the son of Richard “Dickie” Cole. The elder Cole, now 87 years old, served 21 years as head of the Texas Department of Combat Sports Regulation before stepping down on April 30, 2014. At various times during his tenure, Dickie Cole held high executive posts with the World Boxing Council and North American Boxing Federation. He was the first and only inductee into the inaugural class of the Texas Boxing Hall of Fame, an organization founded by El Paso promoter Lester Bedford in 2015.

From an administrative standpoint, boxing in Texas during the reign of Dickie Cole was frequently described in terms befitting a banana republic. Whenever there was a big fight in the Lone Star State, his son was the favorite to draw the coveted refereeing assignment.

Boxing is a sideline for Laurence Cole who runs an independent insurance agency in Dallas. By law in Texas (and in most other states), a boxing promoter must purchase insurance to cover medical costs in the event that one or more of the fighters on his show is seriously injured. Cole’s agency is purportedly in the top two nationally in writing these policies. Make of that what you will.

Complaints of ineptitude, says the WBAA, will be evaluated by a “rotating committee of select BWAA members and respected boxing experts.” In subsequent years, says the press release, the watch list will be published quarterly in the months of April, August, and December (must be the new math).

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Canada & Usa

In Boxing, the Last Weekend of July was Chock Full of Surprises

The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated

Arne K. Lang



The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated

The first upset of last weekend occurred in an undercard bout on the big show at London’s O2 Arena. David Allen, a journeyman with a 13-4-2 record, knocked out previously undefeated Nick Webb (12-0, 10 KOs) in the fourth round. Allen said that he intended this to be his final fight, but will now hang around awhile.

In hindsight, this was an omen. Before the show was over, upsets – albeit mild upsets – were registered in both featured bouts. Dereck Chisora, trailing on the scorecards, stopped Carlos Takam in the eighth. Dillian Whyte outpointed Joseph Parker. And later that same day, in Kissimmee, Florida, Japanese import Masayuki Ito made a big splash in his U.S. debut, beating up highly touted Christopher Diaz.

– – – –

Joseph Parker is quite the gentleman. Following his loss to Dillian Whyte, Parker was gracious in defeat: “I say congratulations to Dillian. I gave it my best. The better man won.”

In case you missed it, Whyte survived a hoary moment in the final round to win a unanimous decision. Most everyone agreed that the decision was fair but there were a few dissenters. Well known U.K. boxing pundit Steve Bunce said, “I thought Parker deserved a draw.” Bunce noted that the scribes sitting near him were in complete accord that the most lopsided score (115-110) was far too wide.

We’ve seen fighters grouse that they were robbed after fights that were far less competitive. Parker’s post-fight amiability was all the more puzzling considering that he had a legitimate beef that referee Ian John Lewis was too lax, enabling Whyte to turn the contest into a street fight.

Parker’s trainer Kevin Barry was all on board with the selection of Lewis. “He’s a very highly qualified guy who I think is the best British referee,” he said. But Barry changed his tune after the fight, saying that there were at least two occasions when Lewis should have deducted a point from Whyte.

Veteran Australian boxing writer Anthony Cocks said that going forward, Parker, a soft spoken, mild mannered man, needs to have more of a mongrel in him. Cocks noted that when Whyte transgressed, Parker’s response was to look at the ref with a bemused expression. The first time that Whyte bent the rules, opined Cocks, Parker should have hit him in the balls.

– – – –

Top Rank hasn’t had much luck with their Puerto Rican fighters lately. First there was Felix Verdejo. Hyped as the next Felix Trinidad, the 2012 Olympian was 22-0 when his career was interrupted by a motorcycle accident. He won his first fight back in Puerto Rico, but was then exposed by Tijuana’s unheralded Antonio Lozada Jr. who stopped him in the 10th round at the Theater of Madison Square Garden on St. Patrick’s Day, 2018.

More recently, Top Rank gave a big build-up to Christopher Diaz, but Diaz, the 2016 ESPN Deportes Prospect of The Year, also hit the skids after starting his pro career 23-0. Diaz was upset on Saturday by Masayuki Ito in a match sanctioned for the vacant WBO 130-pound title.

Unlike Verdejo, Diaz was still standing at the final bell, but he was taken to the cleaners by his Japanese opponent who won comfortably on the scorecards.

– – – –

Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin made his pro debut on the Diaz-Ito undercard. Nikitin won every round of a 6-round contest.

If the name sounds vaguely familiar, this is the guy who defeated top seed Michael Conlan in a quarterfinal bantamweight match at the Rio Olympics. The decision, which Conlan greeted with a middle finger salute to the judges, was widely seen as a heist.

In signing new prospects, Top Rank honcho Bob Arum likes to gather up fighters who compete in the same weight class as fighters that he already controls. This sets up a scenario where he can double dip, extracting a commission from the purse of both principals.

The cluster is most pronounced in the lower weight classes. These fighters, listed alphabetically, are currently promoted or co-promoted by Top Rank: junior bantamweight Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-1), junior featherweight Michael Conlan (8-0), featherweight Christopher Diaz (23-1), super bantamweight Isaac Dogboe (19-0), super bantamweight Jessie Magdaleno (25-1), super bantamweight Jean Rivera (14-0), featherweight Genesis Servania (31-1), bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (7-0), bantamweight Antonio Vargas (7-0), featherweight Nicholas Walters (26-1-1).

The aforementioned Nikitin launched his pro career as a featherweight.

– – – –

In July of 2004, Danny Williams knocked out Mike Tyson in the fourth round at Louisville. Iron Mike had one more fight and then wisely called it quits. Williams had 48 more fights, the most recent coming last weekend in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Williams was stopped in the 10th round by a local man, 35-year-old Lee McAllister, whose last documented fight had come in 2013. In that bout, McAllister, carrying 140 pounds, outpointed a Slovakian slug in a 6-round fight. During his hiatus from boxing, McAllister (that’s him in the red and white trunks), served a 9-month prison sentence for assaulting a patron while working in an Aberdeen kebab shop.

Danny Williams’ weight wasn’t announced, but in his three fights prior to fighting McAllister he came in a tad north of 270 pounds. He reportedly out-weighed McAllister by 4 stone (56 pounds), likely a loose approximation.

Williams is a product of Brixton, the hardscrabble Afro-Caribbean neighborhood in South London that also spawned Dillian Whyte. But he has no intention of going back there. After the McAllister fight, in which he was knocked down three times, he said he was retiring to Nigeria where he had a job waiting for him as a bodyguard.

– – – –

The ink was barely dry on the weekend’s events when news arrived that Tyson Fury was close to signing for a December bout with WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder. On social media, Fury said the deal was almost done and Fury’s promoter Frank Warren confirmed it while saying that it was conditional on Fury looking good when he opposes Francesco Pianeta on Aug. 18 at the Windsor Park soccer stadium in Belfast. Fury vs. Pianeta underpins Carl Frampton’s WBO featherweight title defense against Luke Jackson.

As to whether he would be ready to defeat Wilder after only two comeback fights, Fury, who turns 30 this month, said he was ready to beat Wilder on the day he was born.

Deontay Wilder is disappointed that his dream match with Anthony Joshua won’t happen until next spring at the earliest, but there are plenty of options out there for him and more of them for him to ponder after this past weekend’s events.

Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz looked good against Razvan Cojanu, dismissing his hapless Romanian adversary in the second round on the Garcia-Easter card in Los Angeles.

After the bout, WBC prexy Mauricio Suliaman gave Wilder his blessing to skirt his mandatory against Dominic Breazeale for a rematch with Ortiz.

Presumably that also applies if Wilder accepts promoter Eddie Hearn’s offer for a match with Dillian Whyte. The WBC now lists Whyte as their “silver” champion and has bumped him ahead of Breazeale into the #1 slot in their rankings. And then there’s Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller who has an Eddie Hearn connection and is a more interesting opponent than Breazeale.

If Wilder vs. Fury is a go, say Fury and Warren, it will be held in December in New York or Las Vegas. We make New York the favorite. The only good date in Las Vegas in December for an event of this magnitude is Dec. 1 and that’s only because Thanksgiving arrives early this year. The National Finals Rodeo, a 10-day event which fills up the town, arrives on Dec. 6, eliminating the next two weekends. And when the rodeo leaves, Christmas is right around the corner. Historically, boxing promoters shy away from putting on a big show right before Christmas on the theory that fight fans have the “shorts,” having exhausted their discretionary income on Christmas gifts.

There are some interesting fighters competing in the upper tier of the heavyweight division and a slew of intriguing prospects coming up the ladder. The division hasn’t been this exciting since the Golden Age of Ali, Frazier, Foreman, et al. Enjoy.

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Asia & Oceania

Les Moonves, Hero of Mayweather-Pacquiao Deal, Now Cast as a Villain

“He refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.”
That comment, offered in praise of Les Moonves for the pivotal role the chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation played in helping make the May 2, 2015, megafight pairing

Bernard Fernandez




“He refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.”

That comment, offered in praise of Les Moonves for the pivotal role the chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation played in helping make the May 2, 2015, megafight pairing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, has taken on a more sordid connotation in light of the avalanche of accusations of sexual impropriety that have thrust the 68-year-old Moonves into the unwelcome company of such accused high-visibility miscreants as Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Bill O’Reilly and Matt Lauer.

But while the other aforementioned power players have been fired or indicted, their reputations in tatters, Moonves remains on the job as one of the most influential and highest paid (a reported $70 million in 2017) media executives in the United States. Despite a damning article authored by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker that details numerous instances of bad behavior ranging from merely dubious to criminally actionable, and to which Moonves himself has admitted to some extent, CBS on Monday issued a statement of support that seemed to catch the editors of Variety somewhat off-guard. The entertainment publication’s opening paragraph reads thusly: “In a surprise move, CBS’ board of directors is keeping Leslie Moonves as chairman-CEO even as it launches a probe of sexual assault allegations leveled against him by six women in a New Yorker expose.”

Why should still another story of alleged sexual misconduct by an older man seeking to exert improper control over younger women be of any significance to a fight audience? Well, normally it wouldn’t, except for Moonves’ position, which includes a say in the direction of Showtime’s increasingly important boxing operation if he so chooses. When negotiations for Mayweather-Pacquiao, a pay-per-view event which was to be co-produced by Showtime and HBO, hit a snag, Moonves insinuated himself into the discussion because it made financial and logistic sense for him to do so. CBS/Showtime had entered into a six-bout, $250 million deal with Mayweather, and three of the four fights held to that point had underperformed. Subsequently, the prevailing belief in CBS/Showtime’s executive offices was that Mayweather’s long-delayed showdown with Pacquiao was not only advisable, but absolutely necessary to stanch the flow of red ink.

“Without Les Moonves, this fight wouldn’t have had a prayer of happening,” Top Rank chairman and CEO Bob Arum, a longtime friend of Moonves, said after the last “i” had been dotted and the last “t” crossed. “The real hero in getting this done is Les Moonves.”

And this from Stephen Espinoza, Showtime Sports’ executive vice president and general manager, tossing another verbal bouquet to his boss: “One of the main reasons this deal got done, when maybe other ones didn’t, was having Les Moonves as part of the process. He was deeply committed to making this deal. He is someone that all parties in this negotiation respected. He was really the catalyst for seeing this through. He refused to take `no’ for an answer from any side. He was there making sure that the parties came together in a successful and cooperative manner.”

But while the high-level wheeling and dealing to finalize Mayweather-Pacquiao was done behind closed doors, so too were those instances when Moonves was attempting to arrange a private deal with a female subordinate whose career he could either advance or stymie. One such occasion allegedly involved writer-actress Ileana Douglas, who was summoned to Moonves’ office to discuss matters involving a television project in which she was to have starred. The New Yorker story quotes Douglas’ heightening discomfort as Moonves made coarse and physical advances toward her.

“At that point, you’re a trapped animal,” Douglas said of the incident. “Your life is flashing before your eyes. It has stayed with me the rest of my life, that terror.”

After The New Yorker story came out, Moonves apologized, sort of, to the six women who told Farrow that the CBS bigwig had sexually harassed them. All claimed he became cold and hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result.

In a statement, Moonves said, “Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected – and abided by the principle – that `no’ means `no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career … We at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”

What makes the furor that has suddenly swirled up around Moonves all the more curious is his prominent support for the #MeToo movement and other feminist causes. In December, he helped found the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. A month prior to that, at a conference in November, he said, “I think it’s important that a company’s culture will not allow for (sexual harassment). And that’s the thing that’s far-reaching. There’s a lot we’re learning. There’s a lot we didn’t know.”

There’s a lot we didn’t know? Oh, for sure. We didn’t know for a very long time that TV’s favorite father figure, now-81-year-old Bill Cosby, would be classified as a sexually violent predator by a Pennsylvania court. Cosby is due to be sentenced Sept. 24 on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, and his alma mater, Temple University, rescinded the honorary Ph.D. it conferred upon him in 1991. The Cos resigned his spot on Temple’s  Board of Trustees in 2014, after 32 years, amid accusations that he sexually assaulted dozens of women over decades.

We also didn’t know that Harvey Weinstein, 66, the co-founder of Miramax, would be dismissed from the company and be expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after the New York Times ran a story on Oct, 5, 2017, detailing decades of allegations against him by over 80 women. It would seem that the most important piece of furniture in Weinstein’s office was not his desk, but the proverbial casting couch.

One of the more intriguing developments in the widening scandal involved TV newsmen Bill O’Reilly and Matt Lauer. In September 2017, O’Reilly, fired by Fox News for a series of alleged sexual improprieties, appeared as a guest on NBC’s Today show, where he told host Matt Lauer that his dismissal was “a hit job – a political and financial hit job.” Two months later, Lauer was canned by NBCUniversal after it was found he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with another much more junior NBC employee. Three additional women subsequently made complaints against Lauer.

Boxing is a physical sport, maybe the most physical there is, and in most cases the transgressions committed were by fighters who resorted to brute force, the fastest way to bring cops and attorneys into the equation. Think Tony Ayala Jr. spending 17 years behind bars for rape, a conviction that came on the heels of a previous incident in which he broke a teenage girl’s jaw after he made unwanted advances toward her in the restroom of a drive-in theater. But it might be argued that those who seek to have their way with women by exercising a different kind of power are just as much or even more reprehensible, an affront not only to the females they view as disposable objects but to any man who would not want to see his mother, wife or daughter treated so shabbily.

According to CBS, there have been no misconduct claims and no settlements against Moonves during his 24 years at the network. He deserves, as everyone does under the American system of jurisprudence, the presumption of innocence. But given the current landscape befouled by others who apparently felt that they could do whatever they wanted because they always had gotten away with it, sticking with the status quo might send the wrong message.

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