Connect with us

Asia & Oceania

Pacquiao-Bradley III in Perspective

Published

on

Pacquiao-Bradley

I didn’t go to Pacquiao-Bradley III, which was contested at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday night. It was an intriguing match-up. But I’ve been to eleven Manny Pacquiao fights, including five when I was privileged to be in Manny’s dressing room before and after the bout. I’ve had similar experiences with Tim Bradley. So when it came time to deal with a nagging cataract in my left eye, I decided to schedule the procedure now, get it over with, and watch the fight on television.

Trilogies in boxing usually occur because the first fight was great and bout number two was good enough to warrant a third. Here, neither Pacquiao-Bradley I or II was particularly scintillating. But economic rivalries and political considerations dictated that Pacquiao-Bradley III happen.

“I never thought Pacquiao would fight me again,” Bradley said at the January 21 kick-off press conference in New York. “Then [Top Rank president] Todd duBoef called, and I said, ‘Wow! Okay!’”

Pacquiao is in the twilight of a ring career that has captured the imagination of fight fans around the world and elevated him to iconic status in his native Philippines.

Bradley hasn’t enjoyed Pacquiao’s fame. But he has crafted an admirable record that includes victories over Juan Manuel Marquez, Lamont Peterson, Ruslan Provodnikov, Devon Alexander, and Pacquiao (on a controversial split decision in 2012). Two years later, Pacquiao evened the score in a rematch.

“Everyone has their own opinion regarding the first fight,” Bradley says. “I thought I won. The second fight, Pacquiao definitely won that fight, hands down.”

“It was a good fight,” Bradley says, continuing his thoughts on the rematch. “I did as well as I could, but I knew he beat me. I was sad. I was pissed off. I don’t like to lose. How I was able to deal with that loss was, I realized that defeats do happen. Just because you get defeated doesn’t mean your legacy ends. When you get defeated, it’s how you rebound, how you come back from a defeat, that makes you.”

Bradley gives everything that boxing can ask of a fighter. He’s always in shape. Once the bell rings, he pours what he has into the war. He’s courteous and accessible to the media and fans. He’s a good role model.

“Just because you can get away with something,” Tim says, “that doesn’t make it right.”

Boxing politics are part of the sweet science. With Pacquiao-Bradley III, politics of a different kind intruded.

In February, Pacquiao put his foot in his mouth with a string of homophobic remarks. During a March 16 media conference call, Bradley was asked about the conundrum that Manny found himself in and responded, “I don’t want to get into any of that stuff. It’s pretty much irrelevant to boxing and what we’re here to talk about. You can ask Pacquiao about that. But if you ask me a question about gay people; I love all people for what they are. I respect people for what they are. I judge people by their heart. That’s the most important thing. I have a gay uncle that passed away. He had the biggest heart out of all of my uncles, and I miss him to death. I still miss him today, right now.”

Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, a self-described “proud liberal” (who supported John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008 and was promoting Pacquiao-Bradley III), took issue with Manny’s remarks. But Arum then delved further into the political arena in an effort to engender pay-per-view buys for the fight by capitalizing on anti-Hispanic comments made by Donald Trump.

Branding Trump “an opportunist,” Arum proclaimed that Pacquiao-Bradley III would have a “No Trump” undercard featuring Gilberto Ramirez, Jose Ramirez, and Oscar Valdez, and that buying the pay-per-view would be an ideal way for people to register their opposition to Trump’s bigotry and prejudice.

“I’m standing up for my Hispanic neighbors and all the Hispanic kids who fight for me,” Arum declared. “Somebody has to stand up to this crap.”

That left unresolved the issue of whether abstention from buying the pay-per-view would be a good way to register opposition to Pacquiao’s homophobic comments. Nor was there any word on whether Arum’s position helped or hurt Trump’s approval rating among Republican primary voters.

The promotion also sought to market Pacquiao-Bradley III as a confrontation between the fighters’ respective trainers: Teddy Atlas and Freddie Roach.

Roach and Pacquiao have been together for 32 fights over the course of fifteen years. The Bradley-Atlas union is more recent. Bradley had been trained by Joel Diaz throughout his career. But after surviving a twelfth-round crisis against Jesse Vargas last year, Tim decided that a change was necessary.

“The respect was gone,” Bradley said of his parting from Diaz. “I didn’t listen to him anymore. I just did what I wanted to do.”

Atlas wasn’t sure he wanted to work with Bradley. He’d walked away from training fighters a long time ago. But he liked Tim and decided to give it a try. In their first collaborative effort, Bradley stopped an out-of-shape Brandon Rios in the ninth round last November.

“I understand the privilege of this opportunity,” Atlas said at the January 21 kick-off press conference. “But part of me is unhappy being back in this part of the boxing world because I know what some of the people in it are like. I get reminded of why I didn’t like it before and still don’t like it. What brought me back was a good human being. Tim Bradley is a good person. I like this guy. I feel good being with him. Working with Tim, I enjoy this kind of teaching again.”

“Teddy is always on me,” Bradley noted. “He’s a guy that cares. He’s a guy that loves. He’s a guy that knows what he’s doing. He’s a guy that believes in what he’s doing and he’s a guy that believes in me. I trust everything that Teddy is telling me and teaching me. Teddy can instill everything that I need.”

In keeping with those thoughts, one promotional story-line for Pacquiao-Bradley III was the idea that Bradley would be a different fighter this time around because he was being trained by Atlas and would have Teddy in his corner. Atlas fed into that thinking with the observation, “Tim didn’t always connect his mental fortitude and his athleticism in the most effective way possible.” But Atlas also observed, “Tim Bradley was successful for ten years before I came along. He’s a real good athlete and he knew how to win.”

Seeking to further develop the rival trainer theme, the promotion sought to turn it into a fistic version of the Republican party’s presidential debates.

Roach willingly obliged. Talking about Bradley’s knockout of Brandon Rios, Freddie declared, “You have to take into consideration the kind of shape the opponent was in. He really looked bad, overweight. I mean, he looked really fat. I’m not going to give Teddy Atlas credit for that win because that guy wasn’t there to fight.”

Other Roach comments included:

*             “I know that ESPN announcer who is coaching Bradley is a good story-teller and likes acting. Let’s see how well they do when we go off-script and hit them with a dose of reality TV.”

*             “I’ve never faced Teddy before. I’m not his biggest fan. I don’t have a lot of good things to say. He’s had two champions, I think, in his career; Michael Moorer and the kid from Rhode Island, Pazienza, at the end of his career.”

*             “I don’t think Teddy is gonna help anything. He’s a good story-teller between rounds. I don’t know what the f— that has to do with boxing. I mean, firemen and s— like that. It doesn’t impress me, never has. I don’t really think that’s motivating your fighter. I’m not a cheerleader, I don’t tell my fighters stories about firemen. I respect firemen, but what does that have to do with throwing a jab or blocking a punch? Nothing. I would rather give my fighter direction and tell him what he has to do to change to win the fight.”

Atlas then responded:

*             “I don’t want to be part of a circus with this Roach bull—-. But I’ll react to it as best I can. Maybe he should have been a cheerleader in Manny’s last fight [against Floyd Mayweather]. Maybe it would have helped a little bit. Maybe it’s called being a motivator.”

*             “I didn’t ask for this to come about or to grow into the ways that it has. I made myself a promise, and that was to be as restrained as I could be and, when it was appropriate, to respond. But I didn’t fire the first shot across the bow, and I waited a while before I responded. At the end of the day, if some of those responses help the promotion, that’s a good thing. I started with Cus D’Amato always reminding me to help the promoters in any way you can. But I could tell you now that I would have preferred that it wasn’t initiated.”

*             “I don’t care what he thinks. I would need a lot of help if I was influenced by what Roach thinks. He’s going to steer me with the kind of man I am, the kind of trainer I am? Are you kidding me?”

Ironically, the similarities between Atlas and Roach are more striking than their differences. Teddy is 59 years old; Freddie is 56. Each man came out of a troubled home and sought refuge in boxing, although Atlas’s ring career was cut short by a chronic back problem before it began. Each man was influenced by a master trainer. Atlas was molded by Cus D’Amato when he was young. Roach was trained by Eddie Futch. And each man takes his fiduciary duty to his fighter seriously, extraordinarily so.

The dictionary defines “extraordinary” as “beyond ordinary, very unusual, remarkable.”

“You have eight weeks to get a guy perfectly ready for one night,” Atlas says. “And if he loses, you blame yourself and ask yourself over and over again, ‘What did I do wrong.’”

“I lay in bed last night, trying to fall asleep,” Freddie acknowledged two days before a recent fight. “I was asking myself, ‘Is he going to try to box us?  Bang with us?  Will he go to the ropes and try to sucker us in? I ran through every scenario that might happen. And when I’d gone through them all, I fell asleep.”

Pacquiao-Bradley III would be the first time that Roach and Atlas faced off against one another as trainers. However, a trainer can do just so much. Atlas did a very good job of preparing Michael Moorer to fight George Foreman. But when Big George hit Moorer on the chin, all that fine-tuning went out the window. Pacquiao doesn’t hit as hard as Foreman. But neither did Kendall Holt, Ruslan Provodnikov, or Jessie Vargas, each of whom hurt Bradley badly and had him in trouble.

Pacquiao and Bradley both weighed in at 145.5 pounds, comfortably under the 147-pound contract limit. When fight night arrived, Manny was a slightly better than 2-to-1 betting favorite. The announced attendance was 14,665, meaning that more than one thousand tickets were unsold. The buzz that once surrounded Pacquiao has diminished.

The televised “no Trump” undercard had all the excitement of a Martin O’Malley presidential campaign rally.

Then Pacquiao and Bradley took center stage. Round one was tactically and evenly fought. Thereafter, Manny was the aggressor; cautiously at first, more so as the bout progressed. By round four, he was dictating the rhythm of the fight.

Bradley did relatively little offensively. One of the keys to his past success has been the constant grinding aggression that he brings to fights. He doesn’t fight well circling or backing up. But Tim wasn’t grinding on Saturday night. He looked awkward and mechanical, proving again the theory that a new trainer can make adjustments with a veteran fighter but not major changes in his fighting style.

As the bout progressed, Bradley rarely took away what Pacquiao wanted to do or made Pacquiao do what Manny didn’t want to do. And Pacquiao was simply too fast for him.

When the fighters exchanged, more often than not, Pacquiao was the one who got the better of it. He scored a flash knockdown in round seven with a quick right hook that landed awkwardly and caught Bradley off-balance, causing Tim’s glove to touch the canvas. There was a more convincing knockdown in round nine, when a straight left shook Bradley and a follow-up left deposited him on his back.

Last December, Bradley served as an expert analyst for the TruTV telecast of Nonito Donaire vs. Cesar Juarez. Commenting on Juarez’s lack of aggression, Tim observed, “Trying or not trying, either way, he’s going to get hit. So he might as well try.”

On Saturday night, Bradley didn’t try the right things often enough. According to CompuBox, he threw only 25 punches per round, landing an average of eight. That was perfect for Pacquiao, allowing him to dictate the pace of the fight. Equally telling, Bradley landed a total of twelve jabs. That’s one jab per round. Fighters rarely win by landing one jab per round.

By way of comparison, in Pacquiao-Bradley I, Bradley threw 70 punches per round, In Pacquiao-Bradley II, he threw an average of 52.

When Pacquiao-Bradley III was over, Manny had outlanded Tim by a 122-to-92 margin. All three judges scored the contest 116-110 in Pacquiao’s favor.

Prior to the bout, Pacquiao was adamant in saying that Pacquiao-Bradley III would be his last fight. Arum was equally adamant in saying that he wasn’t sure Manny would stick by that pledge.

For now, let’s give the final word on the subject to veteran newspaperman Bill Dwyre, who recently observed, “A boxer’s retirement is like a politician’s campaign promise.”

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His most recent book – A Hurting Sport – 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.

 

 

Comment on this article

Argentina

The BWAA Shames Veteran Referee Laurence Cole and Two Nebraska Judges

Published

on

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).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

 

Continue Reading

Canada & Usa

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

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

Published

on

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.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this article at The Fight Forum, CLICK HERE.

Continue Reading

Asia & Oceania

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

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

Published

on

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.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this article at The Fight Forum, CLICK HERE.

Continue Reading

Trending