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Boxing 2018: Some Thoughts on the Powers That Be

We’re living in an age of vertical integration and corporate consolidation. The path to power in today’s economy lies through the merger of powerful economic interests.

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consolidation

We’re living in an age of vertical integration and corporate consolidation. The path to power in today’s economy lies through the merger of powerful economic interests. Every content provider in boxing (and elsewhere) would like a partnership with Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, or Facebook. That has been unattainable for those who make their living from the sweet science. But three other alliances will bear watching in the year ahead.

PBC and SHOWTIME

Not long ago, Al Haymon was going to take over boxing. He was backed by several hundred million dollars in venture capital. He controlled well over one hundred boxers, many of them “name” fighters. Premier Boxing Champions (Haymon’s flagship corporate entity) was providing content for CBS, NBC, FOX, ESPN, Showtime, Spike, Bounce, and several other networks. Al Michaels, Marv Albert, and Sugar Ray Leonard were behind the microphone for PBC fights. Gaudy stage sets were transported around the country.

But the advertising dollars didn’t follow.

Haymon’s world has been shrinking lately. PBC fights are far less ubiquitous on television now than they were before. And PBC has been slow to pay some of its bills.

Errol Spence personifies both sides of the PBC coin. Spence has developed as a fighter to the point where he’s a legitimate contender for boxing’s mythical pound-for-pound crown. But mainstream sports fans have no idea who he is. PBC was supposed to dominate boxing to the point where the sanctioning bodies could be ignored. But on June 16, Spence will enter the ring to fight Carlos Ocampo in what’s widely expected to be an uninspiring, non-competitive mandatory defense of his IBF 147-pound title.

PBC is now heavily reliant on license fees from Showtime and is far less powerful than people expected it to be.

If Deontay Wilder were to fight and beat Anthony Joshua, it would give PBC a new lease on life. Barring that or a new corporate alliance, PBC will continue to be what it is now: just another big promoter.

And yes, PBC is a promoter.

Top Rank and ESPN

Al Haymon tried to dominate boxing with hundreds of millions of dollars from a venture capital fund. Top Rank is hoping to accomplish that end through an alliance with ESPN.

Top Rank’s pairing with ESPN will leave a large footprint. The network is a pipeline into the brain of every sports fan in America and offers promoter Bob Arum three platforms: (1) ESPN and related networks such as ESPN2 and ABC, (2) pay-per-view, and (3) ESPN+.

At this point, it’s uncertain which fights will be shown where, how many competitive fights between elite fighters there will be, and how much it will cost boxing fans to watch these fights.

The July 1, 2017, bout between Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn marked the start of the Top Rank-ESPN venture and captured a wide viewing audience. But since then, Top Rank’s ratings on ESPN have been dictated in large measure by which program precedes the fights and what’s being shown in the same time slot on competing networks.

To the average sports fan, Oscar Valdez vs Scott Quigg (which ESPN televised on March 10) wasn’t much different than Jose Ramirez vs. Amir Imam (which headlined a tripleheader one week later). But the Valdez-Quigg card (with a strong lead-in) averaged 1,082,000 viewers while Ramirez-Imam (which was opposite the NCAA men’s basketball championship tournament) averaged only 488,000.

It’s unclear how traditional pay-per-view will fit into the mix. Top Rank had talked about an April 14 PPV doubleheader pairing Terence Crawford vs. Jeff Horn with Manny Pacquiao vs. Mike Alvarado. But Pacquiao nixed that idea, saying he wasn’t interested in playing second fiddle in Arum’s orchestra that night.

The wild card in all of this is ESPN+

On August 9, 2017, the Walt Disney Company unveiled plans for a direct-to-consumer ESPN streaming subscription video service that will debut on April 12. ESPN+ will be priced at $4.99 a month and offer live sports events, original programming, and on-demand content. From ESPN’s point of view, its ability to exploit the Top Rank film library for programming purposes is a key component of its deal with Top Rank.

On March 15, ESPN announced that it will stream at least twelve Top Rank fight cards (including Crawford-Horn) on ESPN+. This followed a March 14 announcement that Crawford had hurt his right hand while sparring and that Crawford-Horn would have to be rescheduled from its original April 14 date. Crawford-Horn is now slated for June 9. There has been speculation that something other than a hand injury led to rescheduling the fight.

The new media is boxing’s next frontier. In past decades, Top Rank has been in the forefront of advances in closed-circuit television, pay-per-view, and the marriage between boxing and both basic and premium cable. Top Rank was among the first promoters to understand the power of the Internet and treat Internet writers with the same respect as the print media. In recent years, it has embraced social media platforms and developed its own iPhone apps.

The Top Rank-ESPN venture gives Top Rank significant leverage in pursuing fighters because it guarantees that the promoter will have television dates to showcase fighters. But it’s unclear how much revenue these dates will engender for Top Rank and how that will translate into purses for fighters.

Meanwhile, Bob Arum has already signaled his intention to pursue PBC fighters. One of the concessions from PBC that came out of its litigation with Top Rank is that PBC fighters can sign with promoters other than those handpicked by Al Haymon. On March 20, Arum told RingTV, “We would never talk to a fighter who’s under a promotional contract. But Haymon’s fighters, he’s an advisor, he’s not even a manager, and we’re allowed to talk to the fighters. Now he can go to them and say, ‘Don’t go with Top Rank because I’m going to offer you a better deal.’ But he can’t say, ‘Don’t go with Top Rank because I don’t want you to go with Top Rank.’ He’s not allowed to say that. He doesn’t have any legal right to prevent them from being with any promoter.”

Also while Top Rank has worked with rival promoters in making recent ESPN fight cards, in some instances it has voiced the view that shared future promotional rights to a given fighter might be in order.

In the end, whether Top Rank’s deal with ESPN is good for boxing will depend on the level of fights that fans get and how much they have to pay for them. PBC failed in part because, armed with a war chest of several hundred million dollars, it gave fans more mediocre fights than good ones.

Historically, when Top Rank has enjoyed an output deal with a network, the quality of fights it has offered has diminished over time.

Right now, Top Rank’s two flagship fighters are Vasyl Lomachenko and Terence Crawford.

Odds-makers cut through hype. Unlike a publicist (whose job is to sell a fight as competitive), bettors put their money where their mouth is. Lomachenko vs. Jorge Linares (scheduled for May 12 on ESPN) is on the boards as a 6-to-1 fight. Crawford is a better-than 10-to-1 favorite over Jeff Horn.

If Lomachenko-Linares were to lead to a fight like Lomachenko vs. Mikey Garcia, it would be worth the wait. Then again, Lomachenko-Garcia, if it happens, will probably be on pay-per-view.

Anthony Joshua and ???

Anthony Joshua’s stock dropped a bit after his desultory performance against Joseph Parker on March 31. But In the United Kingdom, he’s a star on the order of Mike Tyson and a power center unto himself.

In three fights over the past eleven months, “A.J.” has put 240,000 fans in seats and engendered more than 2.5 million pay-per-view buys in the UK alone.

It’s generally believed that Joshua is obligated for one more fight under his promotional contract with Matchroom Boxing and that Showtime’s U.S. rights to Joshua’s fights have now expired. Matchroom’s contract with Sky-TV in the United Kingdom has several more years to run.

Joshua has made a fortune with Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn guiding his career to date. But countless suitors are whispering in his ear that Anthony could make so much more money if he signs with them.

Sign with UFC and the resources of Endeavor (William Morris and IMG) will be at your disposal . . . Sign with Al Haymon, and Al will do for you what he did for Floyd Mayweather . . . We can deliver Google. We can deliver Apple.

Of course, one punch in the wrong place at the wrong time could change the narrative.

Joshua understands this. During a March 21 media conference call in advance of Joshua-Parker, he acknowledged, “I know about the history of the sport. I know how easy it is to be forgotten. This is my time, and I have to capitalize and maximize and do what’s right for me. This isn’t about being the fan favorite. I’m not here to be pat on the back. I’m here to handle my business in the best way possible and, when it’s all said and done, be content with the decisions I’ve made.”

When asked during the same conference call about reports that UFC was making a bid to sign him, Joshua answered, “I’m riding with Eddie. I’ve been riding with Eddie. He got me from the get-go. I’m not into the UFC, so I don’t know what their plans are. If it’s good business, it makes sense. We’ll listen.”

Meanwhile, HBO is pursuing U.S. television rights to Joshua.

Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder is unlikely to happen in the near future.

And to repeat: one punch in the wrong place at the wrong time could change the Anthony Joshua narrative.

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His most recent book – There Will Always Be Boxing – was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

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    August 10, 2018 at 11:08 pm

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The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges

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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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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

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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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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

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Moonves

“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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