February 2, 2023
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ColumnsThe Hot Stove

The Hot Stove: Boxing promotes more than just a fight

This is the last thing I’m writing for The Ithacan as a student. For some, my presence will be missed. Some will say “good riddance,” but many will still not even know I wrote the sports column or know where to find it in The Ithacan. But that’s OK.

For me, being the sports columnist this year has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my four years at Ithaca College. I had the freedom to draw from my own experiences as a student-athlete and lifetime consumer of sports to write my weekly column.

I did this because I wanted to inform and offer my philosophy on contemporary issues related to sports. Regardless if you agreed with me or not, all I hoped from writing these columns was that you took some useful information from it and that they encouraged some discussion.

Though this is the end of my career for The Ithacan, the work is not yet done. In fact, I have one more take on a historic sports event that I want to give before the flame on The Hot Stove is finally extinguished.

May 2 marks the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao boxing match, which has been billed as The Fight of the Century. Mayweather, who is retiring after another fight in September, comes in unbeaten, while Pacquiao has just two losses in his career.

However, when you look further into the background of these two men, you see the ugly side of sports promotion, especially as it relates to boxing. Mayweather has been convicted five times in the past 14 years on multiple cases of domestic violence and battery, but the boxing industry hasn’t hesitated to use him for promotion.

Pacquiao is not much better either. The 37-year-old once ran cockfighting rings and owned more than 1,000 roosters. Though he’s given up on animal cruelty and is seeking forgiveness and redemption through religion, think about what would happen if an NFL or NBA athlete was found doing the same as Pacquiao. Would we still support him through watching his fights and shows or listen to his recorded music?

Boxing is in such a desperate state that it can’t afford to over-punish athletes. It’s not just the boxing commision either. The Nevada economy, especially in Las Vegas, is extremely tied to boxing. Without high-profile fights, there’s less revenue for services during those events. The court system has even been in on this, as a 2011 misdemeanor charge on Mayweather was pushed back so he could fight Miguel Cotto before going to jail.

Buying the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight on pay-per-view costs almost $100, as this is an event that boxing fans have been itching to see for years. But remember who you’re supporting if you’re buying the fight. Most of the money is going right into the pockets of the fighters. Again, people are free to watch this fight. Is it a historical sports moment? Absolutely. I just want everybody reading to understand what these men and this fight represent, and that it all has to do with one thing over anything else — money.

Like society in general, boxing is at a crossroads. We get to choose whether we continue to support events that reward people who commit heinous crimes against others. It is a crossroads for me too. I don’t know exactly what’s coming in the next few months, but that’s OK. No matter what, I know that I, like everybody else, have control over certain things, and what we choose to associate with is our own personal decision.

In the end, this fight will still happen, but I hope the discussions do not end there. Don’t turn a blind eye to these things because in the end, they are truly a reflection on all of us.

For those who read my column all year and to those who have supported me, thank you. Continue to fight the good fight and carry the conversations on.