Boxing promoter Don King must be proud of himself right about now. He is responsible for turning an American sport into a circus.
On Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York, King’s prize heavyweight fight, between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis, pushed the crazy world of professional boxing into the daily drama of soap operas.
Lewis was by far the better boxer that night, as he landed nearly four punches for every one Holyfield connected. But for some strange reason, the judges scored the bout a draw.
As part of the judge’s defense, their scoring is not known to them until the end of the fight, due to the fact they turn in each round individually and not as one score card (this means that at the end of a given round, the judges score the fighters for that round and turn it in).
However, in an interview after the match, judge Eugenia Williams of New Jersey argued her case like she was on trail. She said in her mind Holyfield won the fight. Yeah, anytime someone gets outpunched by 200 or more punches, they always win.
But what if the rounds were scored before the fight even took place? This would explain why Lewis lost a round in which he landed 30 more punches than Holyfield.
Because the judges are not aware of their scores does not mean others cannot obtain these figures. And given the right amount of money, the judges could be bought to change their scores midway through the round.
The same can be said about the boxers. If the pay check is fat enough, the winner does not make a difference. So the fighters in on the fix, the promoters and the bookies, who take bets in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, are all the victors.
So this would mean the outcome of this match, and quite possibly others, especially those with King involved, was predetermined. And when a sport is predetermined, it usually is not a sport any more. I believe the name for a physical contest that has an ending before a beginning is called sports entertainment (or as I like to call it, the male soap opera) — or at least that is what is the given name of the professional wrestling genre.
But the connection between pro wrestling and boxing does not end with a common genre. Many other similarities begin to tear down the credibility of the sport that once was.
Boxers work their way up the ranks, from a nobody to a top contender for a championship belt. Wrestling is the same way.
Boxing matches take place in front of large amounts of people and is sold on pay-per-view to millions and millions across the land. Wrestling is the same way.
Boxing holds its contests inside of a square ring with a referee keeping the action under control. Wrestling is the same way.
Boxing attracts fans to arenas and television with the use of women, who dress in nothing more than a swim suit and a round card. Wrestling, for the most part, is the same way.
Wrestling has all of its matches choreographed ahead of time, with the winners and losers already written in the record books. Boxing is the same way.
King is one of the smartest men in the country. He has been able to keep the viewing audience paying and, at the same time, keep the outcomes fixed.
The reason King is able to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes is because of the way boxing is run. But has anyone ever thought about for whom King works? The bookies, that’s who.
King, along with the other promoters, answers to a higher authority — cash. And the bookies are the ones who hold the green, and as a result, they are also the ones who can use the odds of the fights to calculate bigger payoffs for themselves, the promoters and the boxers.
In a sport brutal by nature, one would think boxing, and all of its employees, would strive to keep the credibility of the battles. But this is America, and anything can happen. And if boxing is fixed, the best statement, said best by King, would have to be, “Only in America.”
Greg MacDonald, a junior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.