(A whole 'nother kind of skeptic: David Hume)
I’m all for being skeptical of boxers, promoters and networks. But there is a specific kind of selective skepticism that reeks of bias and cynicism that too often takes hold in large swaths of the boxing media and boxing fandom; it often looks to me like people trying to prove how much more tough-minded they are than the next guy.
Real skepticism, applied equally to all claims, is better. I’ll give you an example: I have no allegiance to HBO (I criticize them in an item below, for example), nor any ax to grind. I do think there’s a big percentage of boxing media/fandom, though, that automatically assumes anything HBO does is terrible. Maybe that’s due to years of build-up of hostilities where the oft-correct conclusion, based on past HBO behavior, is that HBO is doing something terrible.
But it’s a pretty close-minded approach. When someone raises an affirmative claim – “HBO’s decision X is terrible” – my first reaction is to wonder, “Is it?” Because if it isn’t, or at least there’s a highly reasonable case that it isn’t, and I parrot the original affirmative claim unthinkingly, I’m wrong. I’m not more tough-minded than the next guy. Oh, I sound tougher. But in reality, my position is one of weakness. Sometimes, however infrequently for my (and our) tastes, boxers, promoters and networks do the right thing. You can be fake-tough and deny it when it happens. Or you can be take the more difficult stance and acknowledge it, because it’s more difficult to defend something and be accused of over-optimism or naivete.
I’m stuck on this because no one yet has provided me an answer to my challenge about this past weekend’s HBO/Golden Boy Promotions pay-per-view card. I say that the card as put together was stacked, top-to-bottom, with meaningful bouts like no other card I can think of in recent years. Some say people like me fooled themselves into thinking that, with a push from GBP, which admittedly was hyperbolic about things by calling it “The Night Of The Year.” But I’m still waiting for someone to show me a pay-per-view card that had four bouts as meaningful in the last several years. I don’t want to be shown that it was oversold by the promoter (as though that never happens); I recognize that. I don’t want to be shown that the fights failed to be barnburners; I recognize that, too, but it’s irrelevant to whether an undercard is “stacked” or not, because all you can do is put meaningful fights together on paper and hope they deliver.
And I honestly want someone to show me the error of my ways. I’m trying to be skeptical even of my own conclusions here. But it’s hard when nobody gives me a reason – when it looks like they’re just reflexively rejecting things. (By the way, the show did pretty decent business, according to GBP – in the neighborhood of 200,000 buys. That doesn’t prove my historical argument about strong undercards being good for boxing, per se, because my interest was always in the long-term ramifications of a series of good undercards. But it’s ammunition. It’s newsworthy that a card with a headlining bout between two fighters coming off losses did that well. It suggests that if a good number of people are excited about an undercard, it can contribute to sales.)