Boxing is a mess. Whether it’s warring promoters, Mad Max levels of oversight or Ponzi-by-numbers business models, the sport can’t stay out of its own stupid way. Yet every now and then, a thing of beauty is fished from the bog – a selfless act, a genius tactic or just a moment worth sharing. I hope to find and highlight these here weekly. (C’mon, boxing, three a week ain’t too much to ask!) Got an idea or tip of your own? Feel free to send it my way, and I’ll be sure to give you a nod if it’s used.

1. The art of the upset

Ryan Garcia pulled off the impossible on Saturday – and I’m not just referring to his unlikely win over Devin Haney at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Somehow, after a solid 6-8 weeks of performative pretty-boy preening, spiritual virtue signaling and gutter-trash buffoonery leading up to the opening bell, Garcia managed to pull off a 360-degree heel-to-hero turn in the course of roughly an hour.

Look, I don’t know a single fight fan who was backing Garcia against Haney – and I won’t apologize for not including 14-year-old girls from Calabasas and aspiring Instagram male models in the category of fight fans. You could admire Garcia’s hand speed and … well, I thought highly of his hand speed. But the mess he made of the promotion, his lack of accountability in blowing off weight and his seemingly pathological need to be seen made him a walking TikTok floss dance meme – corny and easily loathable.

Until he spun Haney.

Once Garcia got his hooks into his opponent, the noise from the Barclays Center crowd lifted, erupted and boiled over – and you could all but feel tribal allegiances being instantly shed and the lizard brains of boxing fans embracing the novelty and implication of the moment. Smaller versions of this played out on Friday, when Dakota Linger toppled Kurt Scoby in Atlanta, and even earlier on the Haney-Garcia card, when David Jimenez tripped up John Ramirez. We’re all humans. Every one of us has had a horrible boss, an overbearing teacher, a playground bully. At one time or another, we’ve all had sand kicked in our face. At the end of the day, we all want to see Goliath hit the deck. Even if David is kind of douchey.

2. Dirty movies

Nothing in boxing is clean. Pick a related topic – weight draining, steroids, CTE, fighter financial insecurity, widespread corruption, a ruthless promotional power structure, sanctioning body leeches and issues of substance abuse, mental health and domestic abuse across the sport. That’s just the iceberg’s filthy, festering tip.

Which is why it may feel difficult to muster further concern or outrage when a new potential threat comes sniffing around the sport. In this case, we’re talking about Saudi Arabia and the chairman of its General Entertainment Authority, Turki Alalshikh.

Lately, Alalshikh has been sold by many promoters, fighters and even media members as something of a savior, often described as a benefactor, mastermind, dynamo and even the new face of boxing. And while it’s objectively true that Alashikh’s influence has led to new attention on the sport, big paydays for fighters and some excellent cards for fans, his involvement is, well … messy. The Saudis have been throwing gobs of money at global sports entities in recent years, with some potentially dark motivations, and people tend to sing your praises and look the other way while you’re fattening their cash cow.

All of which is to say, I’m conflicted as hell by this.

A “trailer” for the May 18 Oleksandr Usyk-Tyson Fury heavyweight fight, it’s a full 2 minutes and 42 seconds of slickly packaged, rollicking promotional brilliance. In boxing, we rarely get anything this cool, engaging and nerve-tingling that isn’t completely organic and utterly unexpected. Sadly, this bit of creative genius, in at least one way or another, can be tied back to Alashikh and his crew.

I (obviously) have some strong feelings about all of this, but let me just say this and leave it: 1) If you aren’t up to speed on the fate of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, set aside five minutes to read this; and 2) I’m glad to see that someone today is capable of building interest in a boxing event with joyous, sophisticated creative promotion. Now let’s just hope others snatch the baton and run with it.

3. All that said …

I’m still a sucker for some stoopid, faux-bad blood, old-head, not-a-fight fight promotion. Thank you, Bernard Hopkins and Antonio Tarver.

Jason Langendorf is a BoxingScene editor, former ESPN and Sporting News editor and longtime journalist whose professional interests range from boxing to technology to addiction and mental health. If you have a tip, a comment or desperately need a Johnny Cash karaokeist to work your bar or bat mitzvah celebration, email him immediately.



Read the full article here