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Move Over, SMU. Olympic Boxing Could Be Facing the `Death Penalty’

Drastic wrongdoing would seem to require drastic action to correct. At least that was the position of the NCAA, whose leadership took such action following the 1986 college

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Drastic

Drastic wrongdoing would seem to require drastic action to correct. At least that was the position of the NCAA, whose leadership took such action following the 1986 college football season when it imposed the so-called “death penalty” on Southern Methodist University, which had demonstrated an ongoing and blatant disregard for the rules in the recruitment of star players. Yes, the quasi-professional Mustangs enjoyed some spectacular success as a powerhouse program before the hammer came down, but when it did the consequences were severe. SMU did not field a football team in 1987 and ’88, and when the sport was reinstituted in 1989 the recovery period was so lengthy and painful that the school had only one winning season through 2008 and did not appear in a bowl game until 2009.

To hear some people tell it – like, for instance, former NBC Olympic boxing analyst Teddy Atlas – the callous malfeasance demonstrated by SMU’s hierarchy more than three decades ago, a group that included influential alumnus Bill Clements, then the State of Texas’ governor, is mere child’s play compared to the decades’ worth of corruption and/or incompetence messily overseen by the International Boxing Association (AIBA), the international governing body for Olympic boxing. AIBA’s failure to adequately police its own house had become so embarrassingly obvious that the International Olympic Committee (IOC), itself plagued by a series of apparent ethical lapses, has publicly hinted at levying its own version of the death penalty on boxing, whose place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is not ensured. The IOC has taken the position that unless AIBA can furnish proof that it has taken steps to right a litany of wrongs that includes the fixing of fights, payoffs sought and received by high-ranking officials and any number of other transgressions that range from the morally dubious to outright criminality, boxing will be conspicuously absent from the Olympic lineup two years hence.

Just when any reasonable person might have concluded that AIBA could not do anything more to besmirch its own soiled image, on Jan. 27 the Lausanne, Switzerland-based federation tossed another bucket of sludge into the supposed cleanup effort when it named AIBA vice president Gafur Rakhimov of Uzbekistan as its interim president. Although Rakhimov, who replaced Italy’s Franco Falcinelli, another interim president who resigned unexpectedly, seemed to be a logical choice to run the show as AIBA’s longest-serving VP, he ascended to the top position with more baggage than Elizabeth Taylor required when packing for an extended world tour. In December of last year Rakhimov was described by the U.S. Treasury Department as one of his country’s “leading criminals” and “an important person involved in the heroin trade.” In response to those serious allegations, the U.S. Treasury’s office of foreign assets control froze Rakhimov’s assets in American jurisdictions and prohibited Americans from “conducting financial or other transactions” with him.

An accused drug kingpin at the pinnacle of AIBA’s slippery slope? That was a new one even for AIBA, whose previous presidents included the disgraced likes of the late Dr. Anwar Choudhry of Pakistan and Dr. C.K. Wu of Chinese Tapei, who had guided the controversy-immersed federation for a combined total of 32 years, seemingly treating it as a personal fiefdom and ATM.

The storm clouds enveloping Rakhimov obliged Tom Virgets, an American of comparatively sterling reputation who recently was named as AIBA’s new executive director, to defend him on the grounds that everyone deserves the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise. But Chowdhry and Wu operated with virtual impunity, as if they were the architects and sole arbiters of their own self-serving visions for global amateur boxing. The long arm of American justice extends only so far when it comes to Olympic governance outside U.S. borders.

“Show us evidence that Gofur Rakhimov is a criminal,” Virgets said during a March interview with ATRadio. “No one has charged him with any crime, he’s never served a day of time in jail and he has no criminal record. If proof is there, prosecute. If there isn’t proof, let’s say he’s innocent until proven guilty.” Sources within AIBA told The Guardian, a British publication, that Rakhimov was the victim of a “smear campaign” and that he would be filing an appeal against the U.S. Treasury Department ruling.

Rumors of the IOC excising boxing from its summer Olympic lineup are nothing new. In November 2014, during the AIBA Congress in Jehu, South Korea, that I attended as an invited media guest of USA Boxing, Mike Martino, then the interim executive director of U.S. Boxing, told me, “I’ve been hearing for the last three Olympics that we (boxing) might be on the chopping block.”

But when the boxing competition at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics became an even more egregious showcase of barely disguised corruption, the head honchos of the IOC could no longer pretend that AIBA merely needed a bit of fixing up instead of a complete overhaul or, possibly, elimination. What has happened over the past six months or so suggests that the tough talk regarding AIBA might even translate into the Olympic version of the death penalty the NCAA’s hanging judges once slapped upon SMU.

Last December, the IOC announced it would withhold payments to AIBA until problems over governance and finances were resolved, marking the second time AIBA has had IOC funds blocked. It also happened in 2004, after a refereeing scandal at the Athens Olympics. Since then, AIBA has been working to address six governance, anti-doping and financial concerns raised by the IOC. Earlier this month IOC president Thomas Bach of Germany said during a news conference that a progress report on those issues was “insufficient,” leaving the question of retaining boxing as an Olympic sport in the near and long term very much in the air.

“This report shows some progress and shows good will, but still lacks execution and in some areas lacks substance,” Bach said. “Therefore we retain our right to exclude boxing from the program of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.”

Just as SMU underwent a lengthy and painful recovery period from its “death penalty,” so, too, would amateur boxing in the U.S. and around the world were the IOC to take the ultimate punitive measure against AIBA. Atlas, who served as NBC’s color commentator for boxing at four Olympiads – 2000 in Sydney, 2004 in Athens, 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London – said Olympic boxing going dark in 2020 and possibly beyond would extinguish what’s left of the dreams of so many aspiring young boxers who initially came to the sport with the noble purpose of someday representing their country and possibly winning a gold medal.

“It takes away another goal for these kids to shoot for,” Atlas said when contacted for this story. “A lot of young people in sports, if they are truly talented, become athletes in response to the great gifts that God has given them. It’s a way to announce themselves to the world, to make themselves and the people around them proud. When you reach a certain point in your development, of course it helps to have that carrot on a stick drawing you forward. If Olympic boxing was to be eliminated, one of those incentives would be taken away.

“But I’m not going to sugar-coat it. If that Olympic dream does get taken away from young boxers, it will be because of greedy, selfish, crooked, corrupt people. I have met them. I know about them. Take Dr. Wu. I’m so glad I had the chance to tell him off at the London Olympics. He said, `How dare you speak to me that way! Do you know who I am?’ I said, `Yeah, I know who you are. That’s why I’m talking to you that way.’”

Atlas is nothing if not direct, blunt and unflaggingly true to his own set of values. Although he still has a couple of years remaining on his contract with ESPN, which he served as a boxing analyst for 21-plus years, he was taken off the cable outlet’s main telecast team for perhaps being too direct and blunt. He ruffled some feathers when, during a post-fight interview following Jeff Horn’s disputed split decision over Manny Pacquiao in Australia, he told the winner that he had not performed well enough to deserve the victory. He also publicly questioned the boxing credentials of award-winning writer Mark Kriegel, who replaced him, a breach of propriety that also likely led to his demotion. (Full disclosure: I know both Atlas and Kriegel well, respect each and consider each to be a friend.)

It is at Olympic boxing, however, that Atlas levels his most stinging rebukes. He views the IOC-mandated reformation of AIBA to be like putting earrings on a pig, all for show and with very little substantial impact.

“What I saw, I saw over and over. What I’m saying is what I said over and over,” Atlas said of entrenched problems that never seem to be corrected in any meaningful way. “But at least I tried to do something about it and not just sit by and watch the burning of what used to be a great sport. I lost my job at NBC calling Olympic boxing because I did do something about it. I saw one robbery after another and knew it wasn’t just incompetence. It was out-and-out corruption.

“Dick Ebersol (former president of NBC Sports) gave me four minutes of live TV at the Athens Olympics to say what needed to be said, which was unheard of. So I said it. I said, in prime time, `You can take this whole damn Olympics and throw it into that beautiful Mediterranean Sea that’s behind me.’”

The Olympics will, of course, continue because there is too much money involved for them, or any of its more lucrative subsets, to be tossed out for cause. NBC Universal shelled out $7.75 billion for the exclusive broadcast rights to the six Olympiads from 2022 to 2032, a continuation of an association that began in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain, with two other Olympic rights packages prior to the most recent deal totaling $7.88 billion.

“There’s too much money involved to really change anything,” Atlas said of the IOC’s tenuous situation with AIBA. “I don’t expect much to come from what’s going on now. It’s all for show. A cover-up.”

Atlas compares Olympic boxing as presently constituted to a child’s first visit to the zoo, brimming with expectations so high that it is almost impossible for them to be met.

“When you take your kid to the zoo, what animal does he want to see?” Atlas asked, rhetorically. “He wants to see the lion, the king of beasts. He wants to see this great mane of hair, those big teeth, and hear a loud roar. But when he gets there, the lion is in pigtails. Instead of a roar, it meows. That’s what they’ve done to the sport.”

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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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