I have said this a million times, and I'll say it a million more if I have to: I like watching any fighter that is great at what it is they do.
I like watching Miguel Cotto take an opponent apart with brutality, the same as I liked watching Micky Ward do the same. I liked watching the ferocity of the young Mike Tyson. I liked watching the stubborn desire of Evander Holyfield come through against just about all odds on numerous occasions. I liked watching Gatti take a beating but somehow keep going.
And, yes, I liked watching Floyd Mayweather, Jr., make his opponents look like fools. I like watching Winky Wright essentially tell his opponents, "No, you're not hitting me. Here's a jab."
I like Floyd. I like Winky.
But there is a large group of fans that have never, ever enjoyed watching these guys fight.
Winky Wright has decided to jump on the Floyd train, calling the HBO commentary team racist, for lack of better terminology:
"Black fighters, we have different styles," Wright said. "But the announcers, they want someone that just walks out there face-first. Boxing is supposed to be an art. Black fighters, we've got style, we've got pizzazz. All they want is for us to just go out there and slug. "I think they're just always looking for the next white hype. They just don't give black fighters the same credit that they do for a white fighter, or a Hispanic fighter like De La Hoya. They definitely have their favoritism."
"Black fighters, we have different styles," Wright said. "But the announcers, they want someone that just walks out there face-first. Boxing is supposed to be an art. Black fighters, we've got style, we've got pizzazz. All they want is for us to just go out there and slug.
"I think they're just always looking for the next white hype. They just don't give black fighters the same credit that they do for a white fighter, or a Hispanic fighter like De La Hoya. They definitely have their favoritism."
Do Winky and Floyd really think this is racially motivated? Are we as a culture really still at that point, on this sort of stage?
The boxers whose names have come up here have been Floyd (via his own comments), Bernard Hopkins (via Floyd's comments), and Winky Wright (via his own comments). I'll be really honest. Those are three great, great, bona fide excellent fighters who have/had a great tendency to bore the living s--t out of the audience. I'm sorry. I have never once thought about them as being black -- I've thought about them as great but too often absolutely dull to watch.
Where did the racism go for a guy like Shane Mosley, whose fights have consistently entertained? How about modern legends like Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns and Marvin Hagler? Take Jermain Taylor -- he has been criticized. When his fights suck.
It's not the color. It's the fight. That's all I'm saying.
Now, I will concede the point that the boxing world is always on an unfortunately stupid quest to find the great white hope. I don't give a damn what color Kelly Pavlik is, he's a hell of a fighter. Kelly Pavlik could be purple for all I care, and the same goes for any other fighter that puts on entertaining fights, or is flat-out great at their job, whatever it is that they do well.
It's such a touchy subject, and of course this is the internet, and if you dig around the boxing videos on YouTube, you are going to be hit with a sickening display of racism from every race out there. I guess maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Jim Lampley hates black fighters. I don't think that's the case, but maybe he does. It'd seem odd to me that he works with Manny Steward and Lennox Lewis, and that he's worked in the past with George Foreman and Roy Jones, but hey, maybe I'm wrong.
And I guess really the central point is I'm sick of hearing about race in the sport of boxing. I'm sick of the race card pulled by anyone, and I'm even more sick of great white hopes. A fighter's a fighter. Like him or dis him for what he does in the ring, but not because he's black, brown, white, grey, orange or tapioca-toned.
Which is, in effect, what I think happens on the HBO commentary team. They call the fights with honesty that is refreshing in the world of sports. Boxing is really the last sport out there where the guys calling it on TV are really honest about what's going on -- OK, maybe White Sox baseball. I don't want to lose that. If I thought racism were any motivator for any of the comments, I'd be as disgusted as Floyd and Winky seem to be. I just don't.