Volume 92, Issue 88
Tuesday, March 16, 1999
Corruption permeates from weekend pay-per-views
After weeks of interviews, ridiculous amounts of advertising and silly amounts of hype, two men considered to be amongst the finest in their fields entered a squared circle to settle it all in a pre-determined battle in front of a sold-out arena and millions of home viewers on pay-per-view.
Am I talking about Hollywood Hogan and Ric Flair at WCW/NWO Uncensored? Of course, but all of these elements also helped create the Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis heavyweight championship unification bout Saturday night.
Over the years, boxing's reputation has taken a beating at the expense of a couple of bad apples namely Mike Tyson and Don King. Whether it was Tyson's rape conviction, the numerous criminal allegations against King or Tyson's cannibalistic urges, respect has not been a word associated with the sport. After Saturday's fiasco, the deathblow may have been issued, at least for the heavyweight division.
The problem arose thanks to the scoring of the Holyfield-Lewis fight. The match was clearly dominated by Lewis in fact, at the sound of the bell marking the end of the 12th round, Lewis celebrated a victory while the disappointment was obvious in Holyfield's face. Traditionally, if a fight goes the distance, both boxers and their entourages will celebrate as if they have won the fight.
The three judges sitting ringside scored the fight a draw, despite reactions from the crowd. The judge from South Africa scored the bout in favour of Lewis and the British judge determined it was an even fight both reasonable to anyone who watched the fight. However, the American judge scored the contest in favour of Holyfield, despite the fact Holyfield had been hit by more punches than he even got to throw.
Obviously, variations in scores are expected and that's why three judges are used in boxing. But when a judge is so far off it seemed like they were watching a different fight, a stink is going to be raised.
Is King behind all of this, or anybody else for that matter? In all likelihood, nobody will ever find out the truth about the events which transpired in Madison Square Gardens, but boxing is going to be hurt because it has taken another step closer to the carnival known as professional wrestling.
Case in point. The night after the fight, World Championship Wrestling held its own pay-per-view event where Hollywood Hogan and Ric Flair squared off in a similarly epic battle. Despite the fact the match was clearly controlled by Hollywood, in the end, he was screwed over and Flair was awarded the match.
In what way is the Hogan situation different than the Lewis situation? Both screw jobs were premeditated in order to secure someone's vision of what was the best direction for the future of their organization. The factor of competition has been completely removed, destroying the last shreds of dignity boxing held over the world of professional wrestling.
The greatest tragedy to come out of fight night is it was an entertaining fight. Boxing had a chance to have another great rivalry in the heavyweight division and although a rematch will be held, it will never be seen as more than another cash grab by King and friends.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999