I’m a little ambivalent about women’s boxing, but this fight was a no-nonsense sporting event. Both women have heart and skills. Both obviously took the whole thing very seriously, and both were very good sports about it. The problem lies with boxing in general in this post-Muhammad Ali, post-Ray Leonard boxing milieu.
Boxing suffers from the worst announcing by far in all of sports. The fights may not actually be fixed, but the announcers always come in with a script from the money guys about who is preferred by them to come out on top. This fight was no different. It’s all about grooming particular fighters for future, big money fights, actual respective talent notwithstanding.
The women were pretty evenly matched, but Ms. Murayama was way ahead on my card. (Yes I like Asian women, but Ms. Cooper is also racially interesting, so that part of the match up was a draw.) Reiko was more aggressive, landed more punches, and usually controlled the action. In spite of this reality, the announcers wouldn’t shut up about Linda Cooper.
If Ms. Cooper landed a punch, it was trumpeted as a game changer, a round winner, a sign that a knockout was near. During the long stretches when Reiko’s gloves were in Ms. Cooper’s face or ribs, and Ms. Cooper was covering up with her back to the ropes and her eyes puffing up, the announcers quietly talked about Ms. Cooper’s great chances for an exciting title fight, or how young and strong she is, or how popular she is in Las Vegas, where she lives. (Ms. Murayama hails from Tokyo.)
Ms. Cooper’s corner did not share the announcers sunny disposition. After the first round, her corner man yelled in her face, “what’s wrong! wake up!” Before the last round, they begged her to get busy and go for a knock out or else, “you better get out there and throw one fucking punch!” They were watching the real fight while the announcers were off in Cloud-Cuckoo-Land.
The last round was all Reiko, all the time, but all we got from the announcers was the occasional “nice combination from Cooper.”
The decision? Linda Cooper in a majority decision, one card was a tie, so we know that the judges feed at the same trough as the announcers.
Why do I even watch boxing anymore? The boxers still take it seriously, and the result is still in doubt, it hasn’t quite become Professional Wrestling with boxing gloves. So I can take the action seriously, and boxing is as serious and personal as sports gets.
Everything else about the sport, though, has gone the way of all flesh: corrupt.