The International Writers Magazine: From New York City
The Fight of the Century blah blah blah… Most sportswriters never played sports and they can’t write either. Like entertainment writers – they can’t sing so how are they supposed to know enough to write about it?
The ultimate in authoritative critical writing that comes to mind is Renaissance art writer Giorgio Vasari in fifteenth-century Florence. He himself was a brilliant artist and a personal friend of all the greats, and he also found time to write the definitive history of Renaissance art, “The Lives of the Artists”, several thick volumes (it took me two years to be able to finish one of them), detailing the techniques employed by the great masters of his day in painting, sculpture and architecture. These books remain the bedrock sources of all art criticism that has been written in the centuries since.
Without seeking to belabor the point, who are the great sportswriters of history, who could explore training techniques, technical details, descriptions of sporting events and enlightened commentaries on sports throughout history? I don’t know any, and I read a lot. Most writers ignore sports completely, and most athletes can’t write for shit. Sports writing is the outhouse of literary endeavor. It’s a bunch of garbage. Sports writers are idiots; drunken, grafting desperate blowhards who live on a hamster wheel and are desperate for a few bucks. They don’t know shit about boxing at all, so they are stuck trying to squeeze out some lame human interest stories about the sports stars they cover, who are not interesting subjects from a personality point of view. Even the greatest stars do no not have much to say off the field, and the critics don’t know enough about the technical aspects of sports to compose an interesting narrative either, so what’s left is the gaping black hole of tedium that defines the sports pages.
The human interest aspects of Pacquiao-Mayweather are extremely spare indeed. Pacquaio made it out of some creepy Filipino backwater town and Mayweather keeps getting arrested for allegedly smacking his old lady. The both have great boxing records, but up to this point no sports writer has really executed a comprehensive narrative that captures of their techniques like Vasari’s painstaking analysis of the brush strokes or innovations in shading and perspective achieved by Michelangelo or Giotto. That level of interest never informs sports or boxing criticism. Inevitably, the discussion focuses on the money, which is the lowest level of public interest, which even the bottom-feeders on the 7 Train can understand. These are the ticket prices, this is the expected gross receipts, these are the odds. It sort of detracts from the beauty of the competition, if you ask me.
||The first thing you have to remember about boxing is that it is all a put-up job. You find a fighter with some talent; you line him up against a series of tomato cans, to build up his record on paper. You find an idiot sports writer and pay him a few bucks to promote him in the press. The payoff comes when he takes a dive against somebody he was favored to beat, and everybody goes home with some money.
The Mayweather-Pacquaio fight does not even stand up to that hackneyed standard. Pacquaio didn’t even bother to take a dive – he went into the fight with a dislocated shoulder that had him in pain before the match even started. On top of which, he had to be careful about using the arm at all, for fear that the ball would slip out of the socket in mid-fight while he would be getting beat up by Mayweather. Boy, that would have been rich, Pacquaio’s shoulder bulging like a deformed blob in the middle of the ring in front of a worldwide audience of literally billions of people who paid hundreds of billions of dollars to get sucked into a freaking clown show only fit to be displayed on TMZ!
Anybody who had advance information about Pacquaio’s shoulder must have raked in millions betting against him, a little bit like Wall Street, except in sports betting there’s no SEC to monitor the trades. You got a movie right there, worldwide movement of cross-border sports betting with inside information. A lot of sharp guys in Vegas are laughing their butts off and drinking champagne right now, sports writers included (which is why nobody is writing about it).
There are so many things wrong with this fight that it’s impossible to know where to begin. It’s pure racketeering and criminality on the scale of Madoff or Collateralized Debt Obligations. This kind of blatant larceny does not appear in the NHL, MLB, NFL or NBA, not exactly temples of virginity themselves, only in pro boxing. Meanwhile, where are the crusading investigative sportswriters who could dramatize this story and bring it to the front page, or who could interpret it into an outstanding classical piece of American art, as Budd Shulberg immortalized the game in his stage play and movie “The Harder They Fall”? Those guys don’t exist, starved for oxygen in a phony-ass nether dream world that is being defined by Kim Kardashian’s butt, Bruce Jenner’s future ex-balls and TMZ. The Mayweather-Pacquaio fight is so yesterday!
Pacquaio asked for a painkiller injection right before the fight, apparently hoping to work through the pain, but the doctor wouldn’t authorize it without knowing the reason why. That’s when it was revealed that his shoulder was dislocated, but it was too late to cancel the match because the suckers were already taking their expensive seats. So they let the fight go on, and they let Mayweather win, and how many people cashed in on advance information inside Pacquaio’s retinue, his trainers, the guy who swept the floor, the pay-per-view production executives and so on and so forth, as the information metastasized at the velocity of a cell phone impulse.
This fight is a classical piece of American hucksterism that should be preserved for the ages, like a PT Barnum Freak Show or a Coney Island bearded lady contest. Sometimes the best parts of life get washed away because There is Just Too Much to Think About.
You got to give huge credit to the promoters of Mayfield-Pacquaio. They got the whole world worked up. All they had to do was finish up with an exciting boxing match, which they failed to do because they are a gang of bungling fuckups. Instead we saw a Saturday Night Live parody of a championship match, with two rich guys covering up and behaving like a pair of bankers protecting their assets, and the whole sport of pro boxing ending up with its usual black eye.
© Dean Borok May 8th 2015
Truth and Consequences
People these days are less inclined than ever to state obvious facts, because if the truth came out it would mean the end of civilization as we know it.