King of the Hill.
|I bet you did not know that Don King, cultural icon and boxing promoter extraordinaire is also a master of the Japanese art of Origami. Look no further than his magnificent paper champions Chris Byrd and John Ruiz for evidence..|
Only, now that he has manipulated them into the desired shape, they are not folding as quickly as many would like. King will soon busy himself promoting his heavyweight championship doubleheader on November the 13th that will see the aforementioned Byrd against Jameel McCline and Ruiz against Andrew Golota. Having some knowledge of the protagonists involved I am sure you are aware that these fights hardly represent golden years revisited and King’s devilry is to blame.To me, the obligatory sight of King between his fighters, holding their arms aloft for the benefit of the boxing press cameras during his promotional jaunts stirs connotations of a butcher holding up his freshest cuts or a puppet-master displaying his latest creations. As resigned to their fate as the aforementioned objects, King’s fighters might wish for another way, but as it seems for us all sometimes, it is his world and we merely live in it.
I do not know how much more exciting the heavyweight division would have been if McCline and Golota were champions instead of Byrd and Ruiz, but believe me, at this point I am more than willing to learn. You see, Chris Byrd is an extremely nice chap, but we all know where those guys usually end up, yes indeed, last. As the Sheriff said to the 'Dude' in one of my favorite films: 'You don’t draw s*** Lebowski!' Marketability is a problem for Byrd who might well have flown King’s coup, but when you are a heavyweight champion of the world with the best promoter on the planet and nobody knows who you are, or really cares to, how much better can it get?
Jack Johnson, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson share several similarities, the least flattering of which is that, at some point in their careers, they did enough to qualify for the list of history’s most reviled heavyweights. However, their greatly significant redeeming feature was that they could actually fight and entertain people. In this long and notorious tradition, John Ruiz is a startling anomaly. The first Latino heavyweight champion of the world is yet to emerge, Ruiz is not it, he is a two-time heavyweight champion of nothing, nada, zero, and zilch, only King’s courtroom chicanery is responsible for such misleading fabrications.
While I have no doubt that there are many loyal Ruiz fans out there that routinely arrive at his fights and actually believe the grossly perpetuated lie that are Ruiz’s championship reigns, remember this: a lot of people bought into Vanilla Ice before it dawned on them that he was a fraud. Ruiz will make his next 'title defense' against Andrew Golota. I would not want to dissuade anyone from paying an extortionately expensive pay-per-view fee but Ruiz-Golota for the WBA heavyweight championship of the world, roughly translated in reality reads as: challenger with penchant for low blows against champion with penchant for receiving decisions after low blows will fight for a title that means nothing to anyone with a memory and/or common sense.
King’s latest heavyweight acquisition, for what it’s worth is Lamon Brewster the WBO heavyweight champion of the world, and what is that title actually worth? Not much. Thankfully, the importance of one boxing myth has not diminished in the eyes of the fans, that being, it’s not what you won, it’s who you beat for it; as long as the majority of true boxing enthusiasts around the world remember that, much that is phony and manufactured will not be able to stand the light of day. Lennox Lewis was one of a precious band of champions who defined themselves, condemning the relevancy of leather and gold in comparison to the opinion of the people. I envision a day when championship titles are boxing’s anti-currency and sanctioning fees are a plague to avoid at all costs instead of being tolerated as a necessary evil. The revolution might not happen in my time, but I hope it happens sometime.
Lights Back On?
Speaking of things that are tolerated as a necessary evil, I believe it is high time that James Toney brought some of his tastelessly articulated wickedness to life in the ring.
The boxing media’s periodic amnesia concerning the significance of boxing as an art and all its inherent intricacies allows it to devote much time and ink to the coverage of smack talk. Therefore, it is quite comical to behold Toney’s berating of the establishment when clearly there is no greater modern example than him of a fighter benefiting from its obsession with the coa***ness and vulgarity his public appearances have come to embody.
Perhaps Toney is boxing’s ultimate realist, his sharp and merciless critique scything through the supposedly weak or intolerably pretentious. However, one has to wonder that upon his labeling of all things heavyweight as 'garbage', how he himself shall be defined if he defeats all of, or is defeated by the 'garbage'. Toney’s resurgence is welcome, but he should remember that boxing fans can be a fickle bunch, one loss or even a bad performance and he will have more than his share of critics ready to discard him as yesterdays news.