The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty


Four stories from the seamier side of the fighting game:

1. How on earth does anyone take Josh Barnett seriously? Talk about not losing with dignity, this man is a three time steroid test failure who’s spent months on end since his last failure swearing up and down to anyone with a notebook or a microphone that he was innocent, and it would all be proven once he got a hearing, because he was gonna fight this thing, and prove his innocence, man. And what happens when the rubber meets the road and he has to come up with some proof? Letters get “lost in the mail”, he’s in another country and appointments are missed, no proof is provided, and all of a sudden it turns out he may not actually appeal after all. Is it possible for a fighter to handle this more poorly? If you’re caught, say you’re caught and serve your penalty, Chris Leben-style, and in a year everyone will have all but forgotten. Instead, Barnett has decided to kill off any remaining credibility he had about this with increasingly unbelievable denials backed by nothing. Frankly, I’m not even sure why he has credibility as a source of interest to fight fans at this point; he hasn’t fought top-notch competition in over 3 years now, can’t be licensed in California in an MMA world in which UFC doesn’t want him and the only other major promotion is based in…California, his fights are frequently boring…all he’s really got left is the “I was in PRIDE” thing, and can anyone still be taken in by that after all this time and all these failures of ex-PRIDE fighters? If I never see another Barnett fight or read another Barnett story I’ll be quite happy, thanks.

2. Margarito’s still whining, Arum’s still backing him. You’ll notice that the story has changed yet again to “Capetillo accidentally used an old gauze pad that previously had been used in training”, as though it was standard procedure to coat your fists in plaster for sparring. The worst part, however, is Bob Arum’s continued backing of Margarito. Bob is not a stupid man; he did not reach his exalted place in the fight game by doing things arbitrarily or without considering his own angles, so it’s reasonable to assume he has some use for Margarito still if he’s willing to go to bat for him to stridently. As Rafael notes, it’s likely because he wants Margarito to use as leverage in negotiations with Floyd Mayweather and Golden Boy as a potential fallback opponent for Pacquiao. It’s really the only thing which makes sense: Margarito is not a draw on his own, and a second Cotto fight would involve Margarito going to another division and would probably draw too much heat and criticism to be worthwhile except as an emergency fallback option; there’s not enough money in it alone to make it worth sticking up for Margarito simply to arrange that fight. I’ll say now that I think the chances of Margarito/Pacquiao happening later this year or early next year are well over 50%, and that’s one of those fights which is simply so morally repugnant that it really makes you question why you follow this sport at all.

3. From Dan Rafael’s blog:

“I’m still getting comments from dopes who believe Andre Dirrell was acting when he was hit by Abraham while on the canvas after slipping in the 11th round of their Super Six fight. Even Super Six participants Mikkel Kessler and Allan Green have said they thought he was acting. “

Interesting, given that last week Rafael was inexplicably trying to pull the “you’ve never boxed so you don’t have the right to an opinion, peon” gambit. An interesting choice at the time given the source, and one which looks poorer after Kessler and Green’s comments.

“First off, why in the world would Dirrell act? He was winning the fight easily and didn’t need a DQ to get the victory.”

Many people believe that Abraham was clearly coming on and pressuring Dirrell late, and given Dirrell’s known mental fragility and willingness to go down easy rather than stand up against a pressure fighter as shown in the Froch fight….

“And maybe you missed the postfight coverage in which Dirrell was clearly out of it and the Michigan ringside doctor was concerned about a brain bleed”

Yes, that would be the part which people said was, y’know, the acting. I have been a boxing fan a long time; I have never seen someone react the way Dirrell did to a KO. That is hardly conclusive- KO’s cause all sorts of odd reactions- but when a substantial body of fans AND professional fighters all have questions, that says something. For Rafael to pretend that all of those reactions are coming out of nowhere is simply disingenuous. The reality is that only Andre Dirrell knows for sure what the real situation is, and only he has to live with the reality of either having quit, or being unjustly accused or suspected of having quit. As a sporting matter, it’s of no real consequence; Abraham was justly disqualified and Dirrell given credit for a victory justly earned. As a moral matter, well, when you make you money in the spotlight you accept the reality that your actions at your job will be judged by the public and your peers.

4. Again from Rafael’s blog, there is a giant… celebration… of the career of John Ruiz. I say to you now: if Puerto Ricans want to celebrate Ruiz as one of their own, I don’t begrudge them that at all. Anyone else out there who celebrates this man is ridiculous. John Ruiz is and was a cheat. He cheated in every single fight he was in except the Tua fight, and the only reason he didn’t cheat there was because he got his doors blown off before he had the chance. He cheated in the first minute, the second minute, the tenth minute and the last minute and every minute in between. He head-butted people, hit people low and then faked low blows, rabbit-punched people and most famously he held constantly. All of that is cheating, and it comprised a far, far higher portion of Ruiz’s “boxing” than any other fighter I can recall. It is sophisticated cheating in the sense that he exploited the sport- for him to have been disciplined correctly for all of his infractions he would have had to have been disqualified in the first few rounds of nearly every fight of his career, and the power of his promoters plus the disinclination of referees to put themselves and their careers on the line by killing off major fights in such wise prevented that. As a result John Ruiz built an entire career out of stolen victories from better fighters, out of abusing the rules of the sport and the patience of the public. His career epitaph is “yet another man who took more from boxing than he gave back, and left the sport worse than he found it”, and I see nothing whatsoever to celebrate in that. People say that Ruiz did more with less talent than any other boxer of his generation; they never seem to want to discuss how he did that, which says it all.

I have nothing against the man personally, and I do not think he’s a bad human being, or a bad husband or father or citizen or bad in any of the other, more important roles he’s filled in life. But he was awful for the sport of boxing, and he comported himself without a shred of dignity as he passed through it. He whined and complained constantly: about not getting enough “respect”, about being considered boring, about not getting enough opportunities despite receiving 10 different alphabelt title shots in his career as well as multiple appearances in “eliminators” despite having previously lost, well, “eliminators”, about judging even though he was the recipient of the most consistently lenient-to-the-point-of-bias refereeing in the history of the sport, about “the politics of boxing” despite being backed by powerful promoters his entire career who exploited the rules and their influence in every conceivable way to gain him advantages that his skills could not win for him within the confines of the ring. To that extent his career was at least in part a fraud, and the ending of it should be treated with the scorn that the conduct of it deserved: here passes a man not worthy of further notice, may we never see his like again.

I really need Mosley vs. Mayweather to get here already. This shit is depressing.


April 7, 2010 - Posted by | Boxing, MMA


  1. 1. Agreed
    2. Agreed
    3. Amen
    4. I think you have to give Ruiz some credit. Sure, he was a dirty fighter, but numerous fighters were dirty…even all-time greats. If you ain’t cheatin, you ain’t tryin. Ruiz maximized what little skills he had to be a true contender in the heavyweight division (which doesn’t say much for the big boys) and never ducked anybody. I totally respect that, even if I will never ever ever watch another Ruiz fight.

    Comment by Tony M | April 8, 2010 | Reply

  2. Cheating is one thing, and yeah, a lot of great fighters cheat to one degree or another- Holyfield leads with his head, Hopkins punches guys in the junk on the ref’s blind side, etc. But in between their cheating, they BOXED. Ruiz never did. All he had was the cheating, at every moment of every fight. His whole strategy was based around setting up not a left hook to the body or a right cross, but his next hug or faked foul. He was a “contender” because most refs don’t have the balls or standing to call him on his fouling, disqualify him as he deserved, and suffer the wrath of his promoters whose influence could easily end a lot of refs’ careers in the big time. He was and is a creation of ethnic appeal and boxing politics, no more.

    If there’s any credit to give him, it’s this: I don’t think he’s ever realized how big of a cheat he really was.

    Comment by theshipbesinking | April 8, 2010 | Reply

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