Ethics and morals in
boxing? Show me where!

Feb 20, 2007 12:57 AM

With no betting fights in the next week, we can pause for a moment to take a look at ethics and morality in boxing.

No, I won’t be drawn into any match featuring Stipe Drews, which sounds like some Celtic dish made from the entrails of sheep. Yes, that’s a joke - the part about Stipe Drews challenging Silvio Branco (What, him again?) for the WBAboon light-heavyweight title in Oberhausen, Germany.

Honestly, a moment to look at ethics in boxing is about as long an examination as the great game can survive. Maybe that’s because people like Jose Sulaiman, Bob Arum and Winky Wright evidently are graduates of a drive-thru school for righteous behavior.

The alphabet organizations and promoters have no monopoly on abuse of the principles of justice and fair play. Manny Pacquiao has shown a disarming naivite by signing contracts with promoters as easily as he signs autographs. With that kind of moral backbone, is it at all surprising that Pacquiao now intends to dabble in politics?

”¡ Vitali Klitschko went that route after holding the WBCheats heavyweight title hostage, while undergoing a series of physical mishaps. He was rejected by the voters in Kiev, but suddenly pronouncing himself fit! Vitali has declared that he is ready to resume his day job and should be allowed to cut the line in front of Samuel Peter. It is Peter, who Sulaiman twice collected sanction fees to be "next" for Oleg Maskaev.

”¡ How about the fighter who on Monday learns that pneumonia is the reason he’s having trouble breathing in sparring, then Tuesday gets an advance on his purse and Wednesday announces the illness prevents him from fighting!

”¡ Or Wright, who was given a huge boost in his career by Roy Jones Jr. and immediately signed with every other promoter! Or Diego Corrales, who told Golden Boy he was a free agent and conveniently forgot his contract with Gary Shaw!

”¡ Or Shaw, who promoted a mixed martial arts show on Showtime as another of his fighters worked that night on HBO!

”¡ Or Showtime, which ignored any semblance of propriety by becoming 50-50 partners with Shaw on the mixed martial arts! One supposes it’s an indication that the new kid on the block is not going to be too fussy about niceties like conflict of interest.

”¡ Or Main Events, which hides behind its president’s skirts and, during a long losing streak, resumes promoting Evander Holyfield and looks to make another fight for Arturo Gatti!

The IBFelons have a rap sheet of moral turpitude worthy of any two-bit tyrant. State commissioners play favorites with their sons, the referees or those "bosom buddy" judges. Some work hand in hand with promoters.

HBO calls itself the "heart and soul" of boxing. It makes no mention of entitlements to its fighters. Roy Jones Jr. and Floyd Mayweather Jr. have made nice livings fighting "gimmees" allowed by the subscription cable network.

When Floyd Mayweather Sr. asked Oscar de la Hoya for $2 million to train him against his estranged son, I was told another trainer cracked, "To get $2 million out of Oscar de la Hoya, you’ve got to be having his baby."

Freddie Roach will get $1.3 million for the May 5 gig. However a lot of his regular fighters, including Pacquiao, will have to get along without him.

I don’t want to get into some murky areas where fighters may be cheating - like with steroids and other chemical enhancements. Greed is rampant. Boxing is the last of the laissez-faire enterprises, as Arum and Don King have long known and taken advantage.

Only when it benefits them, do they come together and co-promote. How many fan-friendly matchups have failed to materialize because of their longterm feuding? How many will pass by because of Arum’s latest feud, with de la Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions. At a time when the game’s appeal has diminished almost as much as ice hockey, such personable foibles should not be allowed.

But wait, things will get worse. A Senate committee has approved a bill to create a Federal boxing commission. Never mind that we’re sending troops into harm’s way without body armor and probably should have other priorities than straightening out boxing’s mess.

Can you imagine what fun it will be when the politicians start meddling?