NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 14

“The NOI, The Mob, , and Sonny Liston” By IsHMael REED from the forthcoming book The Complete Muhammad Ali 12 Boxers have had to contend with members of organized crime since the early period of the sport until today. During August 2014, Teddy Atlas, the commentator on espn’s Friday Night Fights accused Golden Boy Promotions and Bob Arum’s Top Rank of contriving to tilt decisions in favor of their fighters. He was speaking about a fight between Erislandy Lara and Saúl “El Canelo” Álvarez, which took place at the Las Vegas MGM Grand on July 7, 2014. A fight that Teddy Atlas said Lara clearly won. I agree. Canelo, however, is a big box office draw. Another outrage occurred in September when José Benavidez was awarded a decision over Mauricio Herrera. Benavidez was Bob Arum’s boxer. It’s obvious that boxers need a union to protect them from the likes of Top Rank and Golden Boy. BRN-SPRING-2015.indb 12 The television sports commentators cooperate with the promoters to endorse stars and attract pay-per-view customers. Suckers like me. Becoming a boxing analyst doesn’t seem to require much talent. During the commentary of the Canelo-Lara fight someone who earned his credentials in the ring, Paul Malignaggi, had to explain to his fellow commentators what “ring generalship” meant. George Foreman quit as an announcer because he complained that his fellow commentators lacked knowledge of the sport. Perhaps he had Larry Merchant in mind. Just as baseball promotes home runs, basketball slam dunks and three-pointers, in tennis, it’s an ace, boxing is supposed to have a moment of artistry. Merchant, for one, seems to prefer boxing in which the contestants stand toe to toe and slug it out; boxing that utterly lacks artistry. It was inevitable that something called Big Knockout Boxing would debut on August 16, 2014. It promises “a smaller fighting space, shorter rounds, and more knockouts.” While the contemporary promoters put their stars in soft, there seem to be a growing number of fights in which their opponents only have a short time to train or are in at the last minute. 3/29/15 11:41 AM