By Mark Vasto
When Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather square off the night of Aug. 26, it’s already a foregone conclusion that they’ve both won. McGregor stands to make something north of $60 million and Mayweather $100 million. Mayweather, of course, has the most to lose — his legacy — but it’d be hard to shed too many tears for the guy if he were to lose.
Perhaps the biggest winner in all of the pre-fight spectacle is Paulie Malignaggi. Malignaggi, a former two-time world champion, has always been a curiosity for fight fans. He was knocked for having no power during his career, having only scored seven knockouts; however, his speed, toughness and ability to draw attention to his fights were relatively unmatched during his reign as champion and as a competitor.
His acumen inside the ring led him to effortlessly segue to the announcer’s table for Showtime, but his take on boxing throughout his career has suddenly come into much sharper focus. Malignaggi, a New Yorker in every sense of the word, never backed down from a fight, and his vocal opinions about the business of boxing are even more relevant today.When you don’t knock many people out, you have to rely on the scorecards in boxing. How are the scorecards determined?
Nobody has a clue. Aside from the “10 point must system”, nobody knows who the boxing judges are, nobody knows how the fight will be judged. Imagine going to any other sporting event and never knowing the score? Imagine watching four quarters of a football game, seeing seven touchdowns but when your friend asks the score you say “not a clue” every time. Or check in on the baseball game and just let random people in the stands judge whether or not runs should count that day.
It was Malignaggi’s take on Conor McGregor that got the boxing world laughing along with him. His analogy was that golfers don’t suddenly become hockey players because a driver looks similar to a hockey stick. While that knock earned him an invite to spar with McGregor leading up to the fight, the analogy doesn’t quite work.
People like to talk about the “death of boxing” and always compare the “sweet science” to mixed martial arts, but it doesn’t have to be so. They can co-exist, and to say that McGregor isn’t a fighter is absolutely absurd. But as we saw from watching Ronda Rousey try to outbox a boxer and lose badly, and knowing enough about Floyd Mayweather’s world-class defense, McGregor is still a massive underdog with a puncher’s chance. Even if he wins, it doesn’t mean that boxing is a lesser sport, it just means that Mayweather lost a fight.
We’re getting closer to finding out the answers, but boxing will, no matter the outcome, still have plenty to answer for.
It’s time to fix the scoring system or else these pay-per-view spectacles are going to be a thing of the past, and that’s something we’d all regret. As McGregor said, “We’re all getting fed here.” At the end of the day it’s a job, and boxing still has more work to do.
Mark Vasto is a veteran sportswriter who lives in New Jersey.(c) 2017 King Features Synd., Inc.