Boxing fans roundly boo Matt Kemp, who wasn’t where the promoters said he was

Kevin Iole
Boxing Experts Blog

One of the traditions at nearly every major boxing event is for the ring announcer to read off a list of celebrities who are in attendance. The bigger the fight, the more A-list celebrities are usually at ringside.

Promoters were trying to position Saturday's super middleweight title fight between Andre Ward and Chad Dawson at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., as a mega-fight. Though it was significant from a boxing standpoint, matching the unquestioned best fighter from super middleweight against the unquestioned best from light heavyweight, it wasn't the kind of event that brought out the big names.

When the ring announcer listed L.A. Dodgers' outfielder Matt Kemp as among those in attendance, it generated a loud and vitriolic chorus of boos from the 8,500 in attendance. They were simply showing support for their local teams, whether it was the Oakland A's or the San Francisco Giants.

There was only one problem: According to what Kemp told the San Jose Mercury News, he was not at the fight. Kemp told the paper he is not a boxing fan and went to a concert on Saturday night instead of attending Ward's 10th round stoppage of Dawson.

"I don't want to watch people get beat up — I've been beat up all year," Kemp said.

Promoter Dan Goossen told Yahoo! Sports he had no idea how the mixup occurred. He said he wasn't involved in the decisions and said he wasn't sure who made the call.

Goossen had been pitching the fight as a mega-event and after the bout, Ward noted at the post-fight news conference that "we brought Vegas-style excitement to Oakland."

The crowd of 8,500 was loud and appreciative of Ward's brilliant efforts, but it was deceived by Kemp's introduction.

"As far as the celebrities and all, I don't know, but I didn't have the list," Goossen said. "I heard someone get booed, but I wasn't sure who it was that they were booing."

Among the celebrities who were introduced was baseball's all-time hit leader, Pete Rose, a long-time friend of Goossen's who was, in fact, at the fight. Also introduced was Lakers forward Metta World Peace (I didn't seem him at the fight, but can't confirm he wasn't there) and boxer Shane Mosley (who was in attendance).

On the scale of sins in boxing, this one was relatively minor, but it's just a reminder to never take anything said by a boxing promoter at face value. There's always a spin factor to consider.
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