COMMENTARY | Following the bizarre world of boxing can be equal parts frustrating and amusing.
The never-ending ebb and flow of internet boxing news and the pathological need by some to report on every bit of minutiae has created a market for news stories that aren't really news stories and reports that don't actually report anything.
Such was the case on Thursday when two non-stories, launched into cyberspace in the midst of an unbearably slow news week, took the boxing world by storm.
The biggest of the non-stories was an eyeball-jerking headline that put Manny Pacquiao and an incurable degenerative central nervous system disorder in the same sentence.
Quoting just one doctor from the Philippines who, by the way, never even examined the eight-division world champ, Pacquiao and "his" Parkinson's Disease became the topic du jour on boxing websites and across social media.
"Even though his reflexes are quick, I noticed the movement - it's just another view, my personal view - but it seems like there are early signs." Dr. Rustico Jimenez told ABS-CBN News in the Philippines. "There are some movements that you will notice with his hands. It's in the hands, and not the head, where you can easily see this. It twitches a little bit. Although I haven't seen it up close, I think I am seeing that there are some signs."
The long distance diagnosis was followed up by that of another Filipino doctor, Dr. Raquel Fortun, who affirmed that, yes, indeed, a blow to the head is actually a bad thing:
"When the brain gets shook like that, it's very dangerous. Since it's not truly fixed to you skull, when your brain gets shaken, there are connections that get cut off, and you get small hemorrhages."
Not to diminish the legitimate health concerns associated with the life of a pugilist, but pretty much every veteran fighter will show telltale signs of a lifetime of blows to the head. The slurring of speech and the slowing of reflexes are, unfortunately, part of the game, but not necessarily indicative of the development of Parkinson's or any other disorder.
The long distance diagnosis of one doctor shouldn't mean all that much, but when it's picked up by dozens of websites as a legitimate news story, it suddenly takes on a life of its own. An extremely speculative piece about a very personal matter could become a problematic professional issue for the fighter.
Testament to this was Thursday's outpouring of concern and well wishes throughout social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.
While the concern for "Pacquiao's early Parkinson's diagnosis" was touching, it was all based on, literally, nothing. And who knows how this "nothing" story will affect the actual man, both personally and professionally?
Meanwhile, on a much lighter note, the tale of Austin Trout's arrest on Tuesday was still being batted about on websites and on social media as if it were some sort of actual news story.
The absolute, most scandalous version of the story paints the picture of an inebriated Trout and several friends, post New Year's eve celebration, in El Paso, Texas at the Taco Cabana engaged in some sort of loud verbal dispute which resulted in a call to the police.
While all of those in the fighter's party were taken into custody, Trout's promoter, Greg Cohen, has stated that the junior middleweight titlist was not charged (and will not be charged) with anything. Trout was released "within hours" after posting a miniscule $105 bond.
Hardly earth-shaking drama.
However, now, just try and stop the gradual dribbling out of stories concerning fighters and the curse of wretched excess or Trout's apparent big fish in small pond syndrome as a main stage fighter living in Las Cruces, New Mexico. One part-time boxing blogger would even express his concern that Trout may have to leave his hometown in order to "get away from all the bad influences."
A 27-year-old man, tipsy after New Year's Eve celebrations and removed from a taco eatery. Again, not exactly earth-shaking news, but something where a negative impression could stick long after the rather mundane facts have faded away.
These two examples of boxing news overkill are just silly fluff when actually examined for substance, but the lasting impression left behind could certainly affect both fighters adversely.
Long after the reality of some random doctor making a Parkinson's diagnosis for Manny Pacquiao through TV observation has faded away, it's likely that the fighter and the disorder will still be linked. And while the details of Austin Trout's "taco bender" will be forgotten soon enough, the impression of a drunken and disorderly fighter will remain.
Sometimes it's okay to not report something-- especially if it's not really a story.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.Sources:
Scott Christ, Manny Pacquiao could be showing early signs of Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, Filipino doctors worry, Badlefthook.com
Lem Satterfield, Promoter: Trout arrested, released, RingTV
- Manny Pacquiao
- Austin Trout
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