The Defeat of the Undefeated Record
Yes, it was only a four-round club fight in Scranton, PA, but we, the members of the Royal Order of Cynical Boxing Writers, all knew that 9-0 John Mackey would take out 6-3 Josh Snyder on this week’s ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights”, didn’t we? That’s what this series is for, showcasing undefeated house fighters in mismatches, right?
If you went to take a shower, re-heat that old Chinese food in your fridge before it required burial in a lead case, or check Craigslist to find true love tonight, you missed yet another in a string of upsets on this and the ESPN2 “Wednesday Night Fight’ series in recent weeks.
While the 34-year-old Mackey took the opening round, the 28-year-old Snyder decked him and hurt him in the second. Mackey had his best round in the third, and was still in the fight. But Snyder came out aggressively in the fourth, and knocked Mackey down again. Mackey rallied towards the end of that round, but with two rounds that should have been 10-8 for Snyder, Mackey had lost.
The Pennsylvania judges almost managed to get it wrong, giving Snyder only a majority decision with scores of 39-37, 38-37, and, incredibly, 38-38. Still, Mackey became the latest fighter to fall from the supposedly hallowed ranks of the undefeated, and on national television as well.
Just two days earlier, on June 11, IBF top 154-pound contender Sechew Powell of Brooklyn, fighting in Manhattan’s Hard Rock Café and also on ESPN2, was stopped in the seventh round by unheralded 22-year-old Deandre Latimore of Las Vegas and St. Louis. Powell, now 23-2, is promoted by Seminole Warriors Boxing, the lead promoter of this card and whose Seminole Tribe also owns the Hard Rock. All of the prior fights of Latimore, now 19-1 with 16 KOs, had been in the great boxing state of Missouri against little-known opposition, with his one loss coming by KO against Ian Gardner last year.
Add these to the following upsets of the undefeated on ESPN2 in recent months:
Junior middleweight James Moore, then 15-0, originally from Ireland and now fighting out of New York, lost an eight-round unanimous decision June 4 in Brooklyn to Gabe Rosado, then 9-2, and was dropped in the fifth round.
Cruiserweight Aaron Williams, then 17-0, was stopped May 23 in the fifth round by Jose Luis Herrera, 15-4, in Lincoln, Rhode Island, on a card run by Williams’s promoter, CES.
Super bantamweight Mike Oliver, then 17-0, of Hartford, Conn., was stopped May 7 in the third round by journeyman Reynaldo Lopez, 28-5, in Boston.
Middleweight Andy Lee, then 15-0, touted so highly by manager-trainer Emanuel Steward that he openly said he wanted Lee to face champion Kelly Pavlik later this year, was stopped in the seventh round March 21 by Brian Vera of “The Contender”.
What is happening with all these uppity opponents? Part of it is that these prospects have padded records which are not indicative of their true ability or potential. Part of it is that the matchmaking is either becoming better in that they are being paired up tightly, or worse, in that the planned mismatches are going awry.
The fans, of course, benefit by seeing fights with less predictable outcomes. But the real loser should be the widespread belief by network suits, promoters, and their media shills that an undefeated record usually signifies much more than that the fighter having one has yet to face serious opposition.
Boxing is destroying itself as those in charge of it continue to try to treat the fans like idiots by booking these mismatches. One of the reasons mixed martial arts is attracting more younger fans than boxing is that a loss or even a few losses is not a career killer in that sport. The fans in boxing have long ago figured out what these set-ups are all about, and have decided to stay home or watch something else other than boxing’s might-as-well-be-fixed fights. The younger mma fans do not mainly come from boxing, but are the types of people who years ago would have been attracted to it.
So what will the boxing promoters do, learn from this interesting string of upsets, or just keep on riding their horses and buggies straight to hell?
Shit, why do I even waste my time asking, especially when there’s still time for me to get to the barroom?