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Mailbag: Journalists shouldn't award titles

Boxing is a wonderful sport that I love deeply, and dearly, and have for a long time. I went to my first fight, as a birthday gift, in 1965, to see the great "Sugar" Ray Robinson's final bout.

It troubles me to see the sport face so many issues, the vast majority of which are self-inflicted and the result of wanton greed.

But the current situation with The Ring Magazine and its light heavyweight title is troubling. Since 2002, the editors and writers at Ring have awarded championship belts and there has been a small, but unsuccessful, campaign among some in the boxing media to recognize Ring's champions as the sport's "real" champions.

I have disagreed since the day that then-editor Nigel Collins began awarding Ring title belts. My objection to the process was and remains that championships should be won in the ring and that journalists should have no role in determining who owns, or doesn't own, a title belt.

Journalists cover the championship fights and the machinations to get one; we shouldn't be determining who gets them.

[Related: WBC restores Hopkins' title claim]

But now, the worst possible scenario has arisen. Ring is owned by Golden Boy Promotions, one of the sport's two most powerful promoters along with Top Rank.

Bernard Hopkins is promoted by, and is a part owner of, Golden Boy.

Hopkins was recognized as the Ring light heavyweight champion prior to his controversial Oct. 15 bout with Chad Dawson in Los Angeles. Dawson slammed Hopkins to the mat in Round 2. Hopkins injured the AC joint in his left shoulder and could not continue, but referee Pat Russell ruled there was no foul and thus declared the bout a TKO victory for Dawson.

Ring, though, continues to recognize Hopkins as its champion pending Golden Boy's appeal to the California State Athletic Commission.

The three members of the Ring editorial staff, Michael Rosenthal, Doug Fischer and Lem Satterfield, are long-time friends and men of unquestioned integrity, yet their decision to continue to recognize Hopkins is ludicrous and exposes the problem with journalists awarding belts in the first place. This is a decision they should not have had to make.

Part of the justification for keeping the belts with Hopkins, Ring wrote in announcing its decision, was that boxing writer Dan Rafael of ESPN.com was among many who believe the decision should be overturned.

Rafael, too, is a personal friend, but who cares what he thinks in this situation? His opinion should have zero bearing. It's not just who cares about Rafael's opinion, though. My opinion shouldn't matter. The opinion of all boxing journalists shouldn't matter. The only opinions that matter should be those of the judges who score the championship fights and the referee who oversees them.

The problem with the journalists at Ring giving out belts is that the guys who did it are employees of Golden Boy, and Golden Boy promotes Hopkins, and Hopkins owns a piece of Golden Boy. That, at the very least, creates the appearance of impropriety, and at worst, looks like an inside job.

I do not believe they made the decision as a way to appease Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya or CEO Richard Schaefer, but I can see how it looks that way to those who do not know their character as I do. I believe Rosenthal, Fischer and Satterfield are ethical men whose fair and honest reporting backs up the contention that they call things as they see them.

Journalists, though, must avoid impropriety or the appearance of it, and by awarding title belts in the first place, they've put themselves in a no-win situation.

Schaefer admitted to Yahoo! Sports having given his opinion about the Ring belt to Rosenthal, but said he did not force a decision.

"I believe and I will always believe in having integrity and in doing what is right," Schaefer said. "I had a conversation with Michael [Rosenthal] and I told him what I thought. But as far as the belt? I can not tell them what to do with the belt. That is a decision made by the editorial board and I am not a part of the editorial board.

"I'm not only the CEO of Golden Boy, I'm the chief executive of Ring, too. I have to do what is right for it, as well. I talked to Michael, as I said, but the decision who to award the belt to rests solely with the Ring editors."

Having that power, though, puts the Ring editors in an extraordinary situation as far as journalistic ethics go. That's why I am so opposed to journalists giving out belts.

I am a long-time opponent of boxing's four major sanctioning bodies, the International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association, the World Boxing Council and the World Boxing Organization.

They manipulate the belts, play politics and are motivated by what is best for them and their bank accounts and clearly not by what is best for the sport.

Many of boxing's ills would be cured if the sanctioning bodies would simply go away. They won't, though, because there is far too much money.

Collins' decision in 2002 to award belts was made out of a passion for the sport and in a sincere attempt to do something good for boxing. It was clearly an attempt, albeit a misguided one, to reduce the influence of these often-corrupt sanctioning groups.

The best way to right the wrong is to have a rematch.

It certainly isn't for a journalist to give the belt back to a boxer that the referee ruled was the loser by a TKO.

Hooks and jabs
Hooks and jabs

• Former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik has decided for his yet-to-be scheduled next fight to train away from his home in Youngstown, Ohio, where there are so many potential problems. Trouble, though, can be found anywhere. It's up to Pavlik to be committed to doing things the right way. If he is, he can train anywhere and be successful. If he's not, he's not worth taking a risk on.

• There can certainly be a shutout in a 10- or 12-round fight that is highly competitive. But the fight on Friday in Mashantucket, Conn., between Edwin Rodriguez and Will Rosinsky wasn't one of them. Judges scored it 10-0 across the board for Rodriguez, though it was clear even to Rodriguez that Rosinsky deserved several rounds.

• Though it took a long time to get it done, kudos to Top Rank for making the Pawal Wolak-Delvin Rodriguez rematch and putting it on the Dec. 3 card featuring Miguel Cotto against Antonio Margarito in New York.

• I'm no fan of ex-middleweight champion Jermain Taylor returning to boxing, even though he passed all the medical tests required. Sometimes, the naked eye tells you all you need to know. Taylor is finished.

Readers always write
Readers always write

Would Pacquiao be an underdog to Mayweather?

If Manny Pacquiao struggles against Juan Manuel Marquez when they fight in Las Vegas on Nov. 12, does that suggest that he'd be in over his head against Floyd Mayweather, or does the "styles make fights" maxim mean that Marquez can't be used as a measuring stick to compare the two?

Jason Rhodes
Athens, Ga.

If Pacquiao does struggle – and I should note I'm predicting a Pacquiao blowout – it would not be an indication of how a fight with Mayweather would go because of the old adage on styles making fights. We've seen in the first two fights they had that Marquez causes Pacquiao more trouble than just about anyone. Why should it be a surprise, then, if Marquez is able to frustrate and make life difficult for Pacquiao once again? History says he will, though this time, I believe he will not.

Donaire should take his time

Everyone in our society wants to rush, and now the big thing is to insist that Nonito Donaire move up from bantamweight to super bantamweight or even featherweight. I want to see him fight some of those big names, but I think he needs to take his time and fight the big fights at bantamweight before moving up.

Leo G.
Albuquerque, N.M.

Donaire is a huge bantamweight. He tweeted on Monday that he weighed about 140 after he had a meal. I'm not sure how much longer he can safely make the 118-pound limit. The only two guys at bantamweight, though, who would present an interesting fight would be Vic Darchinyan and Abner Mares, and both have fights upcoming on Dec. 3. I think a move to 122, where he could fight Jorge Arce in his first outing, would make sense. I think it would be foolish to jump straight to featherweight, but that's not what he is doing.

WBC bowed to pressure from Golden Boy

I can't help but feel that the WBC's decision to overturn Bernard Hopkins's TKO loss was less about violating the "any rough tactics other than clean punches" rule and more about bowing to pressure from Golden Boy Promotions.

Mike C.
Van Nuys, Calif.

I agree with you completely, Mike. If Hopkins was promoted by a lower-level promoter and Dawson was with Golden Boy, I guarantee you the belt would be around Dawson's waist today.

Quoteworthy
Quoteworthy

"This business is so [expletive] up. I just put on a show [with Edwin Rodriguez beating Will Rodriguez in the main event] that was better than anything that has been on pay-per-view in the last year. What is happening to this business when we're asking our customers to pay for these absolute shams, these mismatches, and real fights are getting buried?" – boxing promoter Lou DiBella.

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