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Hoping, Still Hoping, Mayweather Sees The Light



Photo Credit: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

We are all a work in progress, and by no means, I have found, does age equal wisdom.

I found myself thinking this when I heard what Floyd Mayweather said Tuesday when asked at a media event what he thought bout the Ray Rice situation. For those in a boxing bubble, Rice is the NFL player who was busted for assault, after he knocked out his then fiancee, now wife, Janay Palmer on Feb. 15 in New Jersey.

Rice was arrested and indicted for third-degree assault, after he and Palmer were both arrested at Revel Casino in Atlantic City. Thanks to the tabloid website TMZ, the story spread, and public outrage grew, as 99.9% were horrified to see the running back dragging the unconscious woman out of the elevator. A similar percentage of people were mightily surprised when Palmer and Rice were married on March 28.

He got off with a wrist slap, as his team the Ravens suspended him for the first two games of this season. The charges were dropped as Rice pled not guilty to assaulting the lady, and he has been attending a program to attend to such violent behavior. But the matter didn’t melt away into the morass of misbehavior featured regularly on TMZ. Luckily, that organization kept on working the story, and secured video, which spoke louder than our imaginations and reports from authorities and self serving statements from the billionaire boys club that is the NFL did. The video showed the couple in the elevator, Palmer walking towards Rice, and Rice delivering a left hook which knocked her out.

His fiancee. Knocked her out.

The other shoe dropped, and hit NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who not incidentally was paid $44 million dollars last year for his presumed competence and wisdom and wise stewardship, on his Guccis. Public and press scorn was ubiquitous when the smoking gun video came out; the NFL backpedaled, and tried to act contrite. Rice has been suspended indefinitely And I think Roger “Go To Hell” Goodell should be fired, definitely.

This brings us back to our shared addiction, the fight game. As you can imagine, such incidences of domestic violence, which might seem unfathomable to many of us, who can’t even imagine striking a “loved” one, let alone going there, are not a rarity among boxers. Not a surprise, I suppose, as the sport attracts an element which tends to commit such acts more than people who grew up in an atmosphere and in a place of privilege and guidance which made that behavior less likely to come to fruition.

The sport, like football, is an exercise in contained and basically structured violence, wherein the aim of many of the participants is to render the opposition insensible. Thus, we can’t all act with such naivete as to think that sometimes there could be blurring of the lines, instances where the activity and behavior which is condoned and rewarded on the field or in the ring bleeds into the off field existence. We never excuse, it goes without saying, we but of course don’t condone, but we should be able to see that nothing occurs outside of a wider context. But no one, it seems, in their right mind, would be giving Rice anything resembling a free pass. Which is why Floyd Mayweathers’ statements on Tuesday, when he was asked about the Rice situation, are galling.

Hey, we get it. We don’t live in a context free space. We get that our system can’t grind to a halt because someone effs up.The show, the money flow, must go on. The more “important” you are, most often, the more your space in the show will be held for you, even if you eff up, because ability to generate revenue is correlated with worth and importance in our system. Rice, who signed a five year contract for $35 million in 2012, is important to the Ravens. As Floyd Mayweather is important to boxing. He makes a minimum of $33 million or so per fight in his six-fight deal he signed with Showtime. The economic impact of his fights and his presence isn’t negligible and thus, he is treated accordingly. His status as a revenue-churner didn’t keep the man from being convicted of assault, though, back in 2012, stemming from a horrific incident involving the women who birthed three of his children. He was sentenced to three months and served 8 weeks of that in a Nevada facility from June to August 2012.

My hope for Mayweather, me as a person who himself seeks out positive role models to look toward to aid in my own quest to act in a “correct” and decent way, and as representative for the sport which I hold dear, has long been that I hope he sees the light.

For himself, for his family, the kids, for the sport, everything…

Bragging about gambling, and the contract, and the cars, all that stuff, I don’t care for it, because those are messages contrary to what I believe are the things that really, truly matter. But you don’t come here to read me moralize, and, further, that doesn’t mean that I am not sometimes entertained by his posturing.

Also, refer back to what I said about us not expecting too much, us expecting the fighters to act as assassins in the ring, and angels outside of it. So, in light of my hopes for Mayweather, who turns 38 in February, I was, yes, disappointed in his statements on the Rice deal. If you missed them, here’s what went down. Reporter Tim Smith, during a media scrum, asked Mayweather what he thought about “the news of the day,” the Rice situation. The boxer took a gulp of water, and swam to the deep end. “You know, I wish him nothing but the best,” said, and then cracked a joke about “that Warren Buffet coke” as an aide handed him a soda.

“When all is said and done, I wish something positive out of it…I’m not here to say anything negative about him, things happen, you live and you learn, no one is perfect.”

OK, nothing insensible there, even if my first reaction is that maybe most peoples’ first reaction is sympathy not for the striker, but in fact, the person who was struck.

Next, he talked about how he thought the Raven should have “stuck to their word,” and their initial two-game suspension. To be fair, Smith asked him to comment on that aspect of the Rice deal, so if you thought it strange that he so quickly veered toward that element of the story, rather than the bigger picture issue, there is a reason he took that route, the money route.

He made sense when after ESPN’s Dan Rafael asked for clarity, if the Raven should stick with the two game ban, as opposed to cutting Rice, Floyd said he tries to be a better person every day. He said he did see the video,and Rafael served him up a softball which he could have hit out of the park, could have shown that he’s on the right track to being that better person. He could have answered in a way to show people that the past misdeeds are history, that there will be no more accusations or such, Rafael termed the video “kind of disturbing.”

Floyd paused, as I prayed for him to do the right thing. He…didn’t.

“I think it’s a lot of worse things that go on in other peoples’ households also,” he said. “We just don’t get to see them,” said Rafael. Floyd stammered and said, “it’s just not caught on video….I wish Ray Rice nothing but the best.”

OK, that answer is disturbing, more than kind of. It is neither here nor there that horrid stuff occurs in other peoples’ households. This could be a matter where Floyd is hanging out with a brand of people where such behavior is commonplace. And while kayoing your fiancee isn’t the most heinous of crimes, I feel sad for the person who is immune to the seriousness of the act, and apparently dismisses the assault because of the prevalence of similar actions in others’ residences. A minute plus in, and Mayweather still didn’t mention Palmer, and continued to stick up for Rice, the assaulter.

He showed most sympathy, over all, for the footballer, and focused on the lost income. He then did say that he thinks the loss of vocation is hurtful to Rice, and his wife, so he did in fact refer to the victim.

Rafael asked if he thought he’d be kicked out of boxing because of his “situation.”

Mayweather was again handed the ball, and, many if not most would argue, fumbled it. He referred back to his insistent explanation that he was mistakenly found guilty, because the woman he assaulted, Josie Harris, wasn’t bruised or cut. He tried to compare and contrast, noting that Chris Brown and OJ Simpson’s and Ochocinco victims both showed the effects of being struck. “You guys have yet to see any pictures of a battered woman, a woman who claims she was kicked and beat,” he said, presumably referring to Harris. “I just live my life, try to stay positive, try to become a better person each and every day.”

Me too. Part of that, a large part of that, is trying to be patient, to help see all sides of a story or situation. So, I have to ponder, what if Floyd was wrongly convicted? My answer to my self query is, the man has a lengthy record of domestic assault situations. Where there’s smoke…Also, you might recall, last May, a Yahoo story referenced a police report from the Mayweather-Harris fight in which the writer, Martin Rogers, saw a statement from Floyd’s then 11 year old son, who told cops that he “saw my dad hitting and kicking mom.”

Hey, do police tell the truth all the time? Nobody does. But do you see the plausibility in there being a fabricated written statement from an 11 year old boy? We’re talking a JFK assassination level of sinister plotting if that were the case. It reminds me of athletes hit with allegations of PED usage who counter by saying, “I never tested positive.” Er, OK, would you not rather say that you unequivocally never used PEDs, rather than rely on the weasely lawyer response? Would Floyd not rather say ‘I never hit or kicked that woman’ rather than saying that the absence of evidence is evidence of innocence?

It appears someone spoke some sense to “Money,” told him his comments weren’t playing well, or, who knows, maybe he had his own pangs of conscience. But the next day, he was on his bike. “If I offended anyone, I apologize,” he said to a gaggle of reporters after the Wednesday presser at MGM. “I apologize to the NFL,” he said, noting he wasn’t perfect. “I am only human. Domestic violence is something I don’t condone.”

OK, I guess we take what we can get. I would to have liked to hear a more in-depth, more thoughtful apology, paired with some additional insight into the whole mess. But I think it would be hard to pull off, because Mayweather has to feel a kinship with Rice, in that both have been punished for something everybody finds appalling. We can only hope that, as always, some good comes of this sad soap opera. We hope that some eyes get opened, and some people somewhere get the message and cut the crap. Violence against loved ones, of any gender, is nothing but wrong. No excuse. Don’t talk provocation, or lack of video, or lack of evidence in the form of bruises. Just cut it out, abusers, get yourself some professional help, and do the right thing. And if we don’t speak up, all of us, who cover him, who work for him, who televise him, that’s on us. To be silent is to silently condone, is it not?

END NOTE: I reached out to Showtime, and asked for an official comment regarding Mayweather, his Rice comments, their association with him, and their stance as a corporation on the fighter in relation to his legal history. I await a response and will add it to this story when I receive it. I think it is important we hear that, because I’d like some clarity on how MY SPORT deals with this subject. I like to think we do the right thing more often than given credit for, and I think, to this point, we have all not given enough thought and attention to the negative history the sports’ biggest star has in the arena of using physical force against past and present significant others. All of us can can “try to become a better person each and every day,” like Mayweather said on Tuesday, but he is the standard bearer of the sport and people, rightly or maybe wrongly, look up to him…it is incumbent upon him to finally get it, and do it. I continue to hope he sees that light, and his behavior reflects that going forward.


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The Ali-Shavers Fight and the Ever-Present Open Scoring Debate



Ali defended

Saturday, Sept. 29, marks the 41st anniversary of Muhammad Ali’s last successful title defense. The 35-year-old Ali defended his WBA and WBC belts against Earnie Shavers, a devastating puncher, but otherwise limited, in Madison Square Garden. Those tuning in to the Thursday night fight on NBC, an estimated 70 million, were able to track the round-by-round scoring. And therein lies an interesting tale.

A bit of background. Technically, the first instance of open scoring, at least as it pertained to television, was to have been implemented by Ted Nathanson, producer for NBC Sports, which televised the May 11, 1977, heavyweight bout pitting Ken Norton against Duane Bobick in Madison Square Garden. Although on-site spectators would not have been privy to round-by-round scoring, the TV audience would have had such access. The grand experiment proved dead on arrival, however, when Norton needed only 58 seconds of the first round to blast out Bobick.

Nathanson was nothing if not determined, however, and he successfully lobbied for the same format to be used for the Ali-Shavers fight. As was the case for Norton-Bobick, spectators in the arena would not have the same access to the round-by-round scoring as would NBC viewers. The New York State Athletic Commission, then headed by former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, signed off on the arrangement with NBC with some hesitation.

John F.X. Condon, vice president of Garden Boxing, said he originally had planned to show the round-by-round scoring on the huge overhead screen to the 14,613 on-site spectators, but he decided against it. “We didn’t think it was wise,” Condon concluded. “Personally, I think it also detracts from the pleasure of watching at home. Fight fans like to get involved. They like the uncertainty of waiting for the final decision.”

Even more adamant in his opposition to open scoring, in any form, was legendary Garden matchmaker Teddy Brenner, who said he would do everything in his power to ensure that the NBC experiment would be a one-and-done, at least if he had anything to say about it. “I am against it,” Brenner stressed. “We at the Garden plan to do something about it.”

Unlike Norton-Bobick, Ali-Shavers would go the 15-round distance, with scoring on a round basis instead of the 10-point-must system now in place. Ali won by 9-5-1 on the card submitted by referee Johnny LoBianco and by 9-6 on the cards turned in by judges Tony Castellano and Eva Shain, the latter of who made history as the first woman ever to work a big-time fight. It was Ali’s 19th victorious title defense.

Garden officials were embarrassed, however, when a question of fairness was raised. The NBC telecast was shown in Ali’s dressing room, and a runner was assigned to keep Ali trainer Angelo Dundee informed of the judges’ evolving scores. The Shavers dressing room did not have similar access, which led his manager, Frank Luca, to complain of preferential treatment being granted to Ali. He said the NYSAC even attempted to obligate the fighters to use 10-ounce gloves instead of eight-ouncers, a change which was not approved but would have been detrimental to the harder-hitting challenger.

When informed of a playing field seemingly tilted to favor Ali, Patterson said the NYSAC never again would consent to open scoring at any venue in the state, be it for on-site spectators or just TV. “That will be stopped,” Patterson said. “I understand Angelo Dundee had someone running back to get him information and the other corner didn’t. That’s not fair. It could influence a fight, affect gambling in the arena with cheaters. It was not a success and it will never happen again.”

Shavers, who went into the Ali fight with a 54-5-1 record that included 52 wins inside the distance, said he might have fought differently – yeah, right – had he been apprised of the round-by-round scoring. “My corner told me I was ahead,” he lamented. “I didn’t go for the knockout. I would have put more pressure on him, taken more chances.”

Promoter Don King pushed for open scoring on May 5, 1994, at a Las Vegas press conference to hype the pay-per-view card two nights later at the MGM Grand headlined by WBC super lightweight champion Frankie Randall’s rematch with Julio Cesar Chavez, whom he had controversially outpointed nearly four months earlier.

“Progress can’t be stopped,” King said with his trademark bluster and hyperventilation. “It’s time for a change. Bring boxing out of the dark and into the light. People who go to football and basketball games know what the score is at all times. Why should boxing be the only sport where judges pass little scraps of paper back and forth and nobody else knows who’s winning until the end?”

King said he had been “excoriated and vilified” for having promoted two bouts during the previous eight months that ended in questionable decisions, and that open scoring could eliminate or reduce the problem.

“If anything controversial happens, people will be calling for (WBC president) Jose Sulaiman and me to be ridden out of town on a rail,” King continued. “One little controversy and these four great (rematches, the others being Simon Brown vs. Terry Norris, Gerald McClellan vs. Julian Jackson and Azumah Nelson vs. Jesse James Leija) suddenly become secondary. I don’t want that to happen.”

His Hairness indisputably was on target in noting that the two referenced bouts, in which Pernell Whitaker retained his WBC welterweight title on a majority draw against Chavez on Sept. 10, 1993, and Randall nipped Chavez on a split decision in large part because JCC had been docked two penalty points by referee Richard Steele, were controversial. Most ringside observers had Whitaker winning eight to 10 of the 12 rounds in San Antonio, Texas, and were it not for the two penalty points Chavez would have won a split decision instead of losing by the same margin.

Although King advocated for open scoring to be instituted immediately, he had to know that the wheels of change do not move that swiftly in Nevada or any other jurisdiction. But Marc Ratner, the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, while expressing his own doubts as to the usefulness of open scoring, said such a proposal at least merited further scrutiny.

“For this particular card, there will be no open scoring,” Ratner said. “But we’re not ostriches. We don’t have our heads in the sand. This is an issue that should be studied.”

Studied and almost certainly likely to be rejected, as it later was by the NSAC, for reasons that to Ratner were even more glaringly obvious than those offered by King for the other course of action.

“What if two fighters accidentally butt heads in the fourth round and one of them suffers a cut?” hypothesized Ratner. “If the bleeding fighter is ahead on the scorecards, his corner might be tempted not to close the cut, thereby prompting the bout’s premature conclusion and a decision victory.”

An even more compelling reason to forever squash the notion of full-blown open scoring holds that a fighter, if he knows he is sufficiently ahead entering the late rounds to be uncatchable on the scorecards, would get on his bicycle and pedal around the ring to eliminate or at least reduce the risk of being knocked out. Such a safety-first approach would drain whatever measure of hope still existed for the losing fighter banking on a puncher’s-chance turnaround.

We haven’t heard the last of the open scoring debate. The subject came up again in the aftermath of the Golovkin-Alvarez rematch, a tightly contested bout which Alvarez won by majority decision, much to the displeasure of Golovkin and his supporters. But for now, fight fans must continue to live with the occasional scorecard that defies credulity. And while too much controversy is never a good thing, some of it helps sell the sport and keeps interest high up to and even beyond the final bell. The alternative is the elimination of uncertainty, and with it the magic that sometimes is produced when two fighters believe success hinges on giving maximum effort to the very last punch.

Bernard Fernandez is the retired boxing writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. He is a five-term former president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, an inductee into the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame and the recipient of the Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism and the Barney Nagler Award for Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing.

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George Groves and Callum Smith Finally Meet in the WBSS Capstone




The 168-pound tournament of the inaugural World Boxing Super Series, an 8-man invitational, kicked off on Sept. 16 of last year with a match between Callum Smith and Erik Skoglund at Liverpool, England. Tournaments of this nature in boxing almost never play out as planned and this tourney was no exception. But on Friday we will finally crown a winner when Smith meets George Groves at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, of all places. At stake will be the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy and the bundle of cash that comes with it and Groves’ WBA “super” world super middleweight title.

Despite the odd location, this is a domestic affair. Groves, the top seed, and Smith, the #2 seed, are both Englishmen. And if the fight were on British soil, it would have certainly drawn well. In the UK, Groves is enormously popular. His second fight with Carl Froch attracted a crowd of 80,000 at Wembley Stadium, a British post-war record eventually broken by Joshua-Klitschko.

Groves (28-3, 20 KOs) suffered his lone defeats at the hands of Froch, who defeated him twice, and Badou Jack, and there’s no shame there. Carl Froch, in the minds of many, has a plaque waiting for him at the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Jack, a title-holder in two weight classes, is currently ranked #1 as a light heavyweight by the WBA and WBC.

Although both fights with Froch ended inside the distance, both were nip-and-tuck until Froch closed the curtain. Badou Jack defeated Groves by split decision in Las Vegas.

Groves has a high boxing IQ as he demonstrated on Feb 17 in Manchester where he scored a 12-round unanimous decision over Chris Eubank Jr. Groves, observed ringside reporter Gareth Davies, “was just a step too far, too strong and ultimately too technical and experienced in the championship rounds.” Eubank’s father and trainer Chris Eubank Sr. saluted Groves for fighting the perfect fight.

The victory was bittersweet as Groves dislocated his left shoulder in the final round. It required surgery, pushing back the finale until this Friday, a full two months after the conclusion of the other WBSS tourney, for cruiserweights, the finale of which was also pushed back from the originally scheduled date. For a time the promoters seriously considered bumping Eubank into the finals in place of the incapacitated Groves but eventually thought better of it. (Eubank will appear on the undercard in a stay-busy fight against Ireland’s J.J. McDonagh.)

Callum Smith (24-0, 18 KOs) is the youngest of four fighting brothers, each of whom captured one or more regional titles. In the family, the relationship between talent and birth order is inverse, which is to say that Paul Smith, the oldest of the foursome, wasn’t as good as his younger brother Stephen and Stephen wasn’t as good as younger brother Liam.

Liam “Beefy” Smith accomplished what his two older brothers could not, winning a world title. He won the WBO 154-pound diadem in his twenty-second fight and successfully defended the belt twice before it was sheared from him by Canelo Alvarez who knocked him out in the ninth round.

If Callum Smith wins on Friday, he will be recognized by hardcore fans as a more legitimate champion than was the case with his brother Liam. That’s because Callum, who stands six-foot-three (none of his brothers is taller than 5’11”), was touted from the very onset of his career as the most gifted of the fighting Smith brothers. He solidified that opinion in November of 2015 when he knocked out Liverpool rival Rocky Fielding in the opening round. Fielding went on to win the “regular” version of the WBA 168-pound title and that remains the only blemish on his record.

In recent bouts, however, Smith hasn’t looked that sharp. His last two opponents, the aforementioned Skoglund and Neiky Holzken, lasted the full 12 rounds. The obscure Holzken, a converted kickboxer from the Netherlands, was a late sub for Juergen Braehmer who was forced to bow out of the tournament with an illness.

George Groves was a slight underdog to Eubank. On Friday, the odds favor him, but only slightly. At last look it was 13/10 which portends a very close fight. Groves has the edge in experience and in ring savvy and has fought tougher opposition, but Smith will have a three-and-a-half inch height advantage and is judged to be the harder puncher.

Fight fans in the U.S. can access the fight on the new DAZN app. Keep in mind that Saudi Arabia is seven hours ahead of New York and other precincts in the Eastern Time Zone and adjust accordingly.

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Three Punch Combo: A Bouquet for “ShoBox” and More



new television

THREE PUNCH COMBO — We are embarking into a new age in boxing. There are new television contracts and digital platforms available that are making the sport more visible than ever before to the masses. But with all these new deals and platforms, it is important not to forget some of the consistent programming that has been around for some time. There is no better example of this than the ShoBox series on Showtime.

ShoBox, more formally ShoBox: The New Generation, began with a simple premise of matching young prospects in with tough opposition. To get their fighters on this series, promoters would have to find credible opponents who could potentially test and maybe even upset their prized prospect. This premise has led to consistently competitive and entertaining fights in the more than 200 broadcasts since the inception of the series in 2001.

This past Friday, we saw just how this premise works once again. There was a four fight card that featured competitive fights on paper in all the matches. However, in two of those matches there did seem to be clear favorites though each of the respective fighters was being matched with their toughest foe to date.

James Wilkins and Misael Lopez opened the telecast in a 130-pound contest. Wilkins was featured in a documentary that aired on Showtime just prior to the card and was expected to make a smashing television debut. He was a knockout artist and the thought was that he would put on a show to open the telecast. But instead, Wilkins got a boxing lesson from Lopez who was busier from the outside and managed to mostly avoid the power of Wilkins throughout the contest in winning an eight round unanimous decision.

The main event featured Jon Fernandez facing O’Shaquie Foster in another 130-pound contest. Fernandez had been getting a lot of buzz and many in the sport considered the Spaniard a future star. This was supposed to be a test for Fernandez as Foster (pictured on the right) represented a step up in class, but nonetheless many expected Fernandez to pass the test with flying colors. Instead, the power punching Fernandez was clearly out-boxed by Foster for ten rounds in an entertaining fight.

These two fights showed once again that when young fighters are matched tough we often get better than expected fights that can sometimes deliver surprises. This coming Friday, the series returns with highly touted lightweight prospect Devin Haney (19-0, 13 KO’s) in the main event taking on former world title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos (33-2-2, 21 KO’s). This is a fight in which Haney is favored but one in which he is facing the toughest challenge of his young career. At the very least, this should be a test for the highly touted 19-year-old Haney and I am certain we get a compelling fight.

ShoBox is boxing’s most consistent series and one that just continues to provide fight fans with high caliber, competitive fights.

10 Percent or 10 Pounds – How To Combat Fighters Who Blow Up In Weight

It is time to address the issue of fighters gaining an absurd amount of weight following the weigh-in. There is a reason why we have weight classes in boxing. If one fighter enters the ring weighing significantly more than his opponent, it gives the bigger fighter a big advantage. This can make for not only non-competitive fights but potentially dangerous situations. I have a simple solution that I think can combat this problem.

In past articles, I have touched on the issue of fighters who miss the contracted weight. My argument has always been to implement a system with stiff financial penalties. So in a similar aspect, I think stiff financial penalties can combat the continued problem of fighters blowing up in weight after the official weigh-in.

What I propose is second day weigh-ins where fighters would not be permitted to put on more than ten pounds or 10 percent (whichever is more) of the contracted weight limit. If they are over, the fight still goes on but the fighter who misses the second day weight limit pays a substantial fine. This simple adjunct can be easily administered by the various state commissions in the United States (or any other commissions worldwide).

Here is an example:  Let’s say we have a fight contracted at 130 pounds and each fighter weighs in at 129 pounds. The second day limit would be 10 percent of 130 pounds which was the contracted weight. So each fighter could come in at a maximum of 143 pounds. Now let’s say one fighter comes in at 146 pounds. The penalty I propose would be 20 percent of that fighter’s purse per pound over the weight. And this money goes directly to their opponent. Under this example, the fighter over weight would lose 60 percent of his purse.

Zero Shouldn’t Mean That Much

We are in an era, largely due to The Floyd Mayweather Jr. Factor, where fighters are often overly protected to keep that precious zero in the loss column. But to do so, they are frequently matched with soft opposition and learn little from dismantling their overmatched foes. There is little to no growth in their career during this period and though the record may get glossy, the development of the fighter may be stunted.

Setbacks can humble fighters and make them see what needs to be done so as not to experience that feeling again. They become better overall fighters and put themselves in a better long term position in their career.

This past weekend, we saw two once promising prospects bounce back with career defining wins after suffering an early unexpected defeat. They are both now in prime position to have their respective careers blossom which may not have otherwise been the case.

Earlier I mentioned O’Shaquie Foster’s upset win against Jon Fernandez. Three years ago, Foster was a highly touted prospect. He had a good amateur background and was blessed athletically with dynamic speed. After building up an 8-0 record against less than formidable opposition, he lost in a dreadful performance to Samuel Teah. Another loss would follow several months later to Rolando Chinea. But Foster clearly learned from his mistakes in these fights and bounced back, layering his natural athletic ability with much improved skills in frankly outclassing Fernandez. Foster’s losses made him take a step back and re-evaluate what needed to be done inside the ring. He is now in prime position to become a contender in the 130-pound weight division.

Luke Campbell was a 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist and considered a can’t-miss future star in boxing. But in his 13th pro fight, in a rather shocking development, he was put on the canvas and lost a split decision to veteran Yvan Mendy. Another loss followed two years later against Jorge Linares but Campbell performed well while losing a split decision and flashed signs of improvement from the Mendy setback.

The rematch with Mendy for Campbell took place this past weekend and Campbell did what many expected him to do in their first encounter. He boxed effectively from the outside and mixed in precision combination punching to easily avenge the defeat. It was a dynamic performance by Campbell and put him in line for a big fight at lightweight.

Luke Campbell is a vastly different fighter from the one who lost to Mendy three years earlier and appears primed to potentially live up to the once high expectations. He is in a better spot today in his career due to what he learned from that first loss to Mendy.

Photo credit: Dave Mandel / SHOWTIME

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