It’s boxing that’s dying, not Jerry Izenberg

July 11, 2017 3:00 AM
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Last week I had the honor of a sitdown breakfast with Hall of Fame columnist Jerry Izenberg, who was rumored to have died 72 hours before we dined. At 86 years young, Jerry looked especially good for a corpse.

This would have been some exclusive if true, but alas it’s just another brick in the wall of fake news.

Izenberg is the oracle of current living sportswriters, a dying breed (pardon the pun). He’s in the stratosphere with the printed word’s best alongside Jim Murray, Red Smith, Furman Bisher, Frank Deford, Dick Schapp and a few others who made your Mount Rushmore of scribes. Jerry’s latest book is called “Once There Were Giants, the Golden Age of Heavyweight Boxing,” but this man is also one of the select few who has covered all 51 Super Bowls.

Izenberg is New York City defined so when he talks over steak and eggs, even the fork and knife stand at attention. And believe me he’s not afraid to stick that knife in deep.

“The state of boxing today… it’s not even a county,” said the Henderson resident. “There will always be fights. Boxing has every emotion you can think of. It is an outlet for prejudices and for people who like to see their own succeed. Boxing has lost the neighborhoods. Garment center guys replaced by ones wearing pinky rings.

“Today there are myopic judges,” he continued. “Those three judges who did the Pacquiao fight in Australia, what big time fights have they ever done? I couldn’t find any! Where are the great trainers like Ray Arcel, Eddie Futch, Manny Steward? When Mark Ratner left the state athletic commission, the sport hasn’t been the same. Nobody is held accountable. It’s like newspapers today – bad editors make bad reporters.”

Continuing with the newspaper theme, of which GamingToday is a very interested and viable party, Izenberg lamented that millennials are killing off the printed word.

“I’d like my next book to be called Newspaper Autopsy – Death By Suicide,” Izenberg said. “New Orleans decided to go digital. Big mistake. Millennials are sitting at their computers. The election of Trump proves my point. We are three or four generations with no intellectual stimulation. My first newspaper job was 68 years ago. We have lost intellectual curiosity.”

And Izenberg makes no fans with those who supported the Raiders’ projected move from Oakland to Las Vegas for the 2020 season.

“Vegas has a football team and the city made the worst lease deal in the history of the NFL,” he said. “I don’t care if that opinion doesn’t go over big here. The city does need a stadium, but only managed by Clark County. You don’t need the Raiders. Springsteen could do three concerts and bring in 90,000. USC-Ohio State can play here. You can book Celine Dion, the MMA, the Mayweather-McGregor freak show. The Raiders are here for just eight games and maybe two in the postseason. The city let themselves be blinded.”

As for hockey, Izenberg says it will work here if the Golden Knights are competitive within three years.

“When UNLV was competitive, you couldn’t get a ticket,” he said. “I would like hockey to succeed. I want to see people in Vegas to make money.”

In typical Izenberg flair he even threw a jab at his latest boxing gem.

“With my book I am trying to get the Gideon people to replace the Bibles with my book in the hotels,” he said.

Now there’s a 10 count of commandments that should be in print, and not by text message.