In a fall season with two of boxing's biggest stars set to fight, Boxing was poised for its highest ratings and biggest audiences. Specualtion surrounded the numbers expected at the gate as well as in PPV sales at home. Some with their usual hyperbole were even anticipating records.
Network executives and sponsors were on call. Shakeups at HBO and elsewhere pointed to the possible reuniting of boxing and terrestial TV. Boxers and Boxing were once again candidates for sponsors and endorsements. The light was geeting pretty bright and the game was getting its chance to shine.
And then came last night.
What transpired last night in Vegas sadly didn't just stay in Vegas. Everyone saw it. Why? Because one of two of boxings biggest stars was fighting. The game had eyeballs. And then it didn't.
One butt, one lapse of attention and two blows later, Boxing had its Golata moment. Another Ear for the vitrine. Another mark keeping the game once seen on TV every Friday night in homes across this country from doing so again.
Blame everyone. Ortiz for sure. Only a fool could fight and stay fairly even against a great fighter under the brightest lights and use his head, not to adjust, but as a battering ram. Think Ortiz. Think Butthead. Blame Cortez. Damn, he even tried. Not letting Floyd use his customary tricks to dissuade his opponent or breaking them too soon, Cortez actually was doing pretty well. Until he wasn't. Then he lost control by failing at one of his principal duties, watching the fight and policing the fighters. He policed but he did not watch. Not well enough to stop the act that will do more to hurt Boxing more than all the words spouted by the very same fighter in his attempts to help boxing. I am speaking here of Floyd, the very same.
Floyd always knows what he is doing. At least that is what he tells us. He is not accusing any one fighter of anything. He is simply trying to clean up the game. Problem is...the only person he is trying to clean up the game against is himself. Bravo the game's second biggest star (Pacquiao is far bigger name globally). Nicely played.
By cold-cocking the imbecilic Victor Ortiz, Floyd made no fans for Boxing. He won the fight. And pleased his fans. But from the moment the fight ended to the minute his arm was raised (by his own team), I have not heard anyone, from the audience there and/or casual boxing fan who saw what they watched and watched what they saw......who liked it.
And I suppose and suspect that is precisely what the people most capable and responsible for bringing Boxing back in front of mass audiences believed as well.
Fortunately, Boxing is bigger that any one fight. For if it was not, last night was not a good night for others to judge.