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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Another boxing travesty

The powers-that-be at HBO must be pulling out their last hair and grinding their teeth, because for a second straight week, the self-promoted kings of boxing produced a real stink bomb.

A week after the David Haye-Vladimir Klitschko dance contest in Germany, HBO televised the middleweight bout between former contender Paul Williams, once called "the most avoided man in boxing" and Erislandy Lara, a little-known Cuban who entered the ring undefeated.

And after the 12 rounds were over Saturday night, Lara still should have been undefeated, because he pummeled Williams all over the ring, precisely and surgically, using a left jab that floored the former contender in the second round, opened up a cut over his eye as wide as the Suez Canal and staggered and stammered Williams so bad that after the fight he must have thought he was the other Paul Williams, who wrote "Old Fashioned Love Song" and used to appear on "The Love Boat" and "The Odd Couple."

Renowned boxing guru Harold Lederman had Lara ahead 117-111 on his scorecard. I thought that Lara won 10 rounds to two for Williams. It was that lopsided.

But somehow, the judges, who must have been a combination of Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles combined, saw it differently. One judge had it even and the other two gave the fight to Williams. How? No one knows.

HBO announcer Bob Papa kept mentioning that Williams needed to knock Lara out in the late rounds to win the fight. Even Williams' own corner thought so. The in-ring mike picked up Williams' trainer, saying, ``You gotta knock him out."

Even Williams' body language after the fight displayed a beaten man. His shoulders were rounded, his head down. He thought he had lost. So did the 2,000 or so in attendance in Atlantic City. So did the announcers. The only three people who didn't think Williams lost were the judges.

But how could this happen? I mean, it wasn't even close. It was an ass-kicking of epic proportions. It should not have even been a debate. I've seen some crazy decisions over the years, but at the very least, those were close and debatable. This was not. Lara clearly won the fight. I don't know what those three judges were watching.

CompuBox, the boxing statistic firm, had Lara connecting on 42 percent of the punches he threw, while Williams connected on 19 percent. If it was an election, NBC News would have projected Lara the winner before the polls closed, without the benefit of a recount.

Williams had not been in the ring since last November, when he was knocked into oblivion by Sergio Martinez in the second round. Williams was out cold that night, but with his eyes wide open. It was a scary scene.

In the old days of boxing, someone would have taken a closer look at a travesty like this and reversed the judges' decision. Or at least, call it a no-contest. This was a disgrace. These judges should not be allowed to officiate at another match in New Jersey ever again.

I mean, there wasn't even an argument about this one. Lara was more than robbed. He was reamed without the use of a lubricant.

And Williams said that he might give Lara a rematch? If I were Paul Williams, either this fighter, the small little songwriter or the investigating detective on Young and the Restless (played by Doug Davidson), I'd want no part of Lara. None.

Two weeks of televised boxing, two weeks of disasters. And people wonder why professional boxing is losing its attraction and luster? Look no further to what we witnessed over the last two weekends. It's a disgrace.

C'mon, give me credit for the soap opera reference. Where else would you get stuff like that?

As some may know, I was doing a host of duties for the Newark Bears baseball team until recently, handling the PA announcing, official scoring, public relations and what have you, until I clashed heads with team partner Danielle Dronet.

I'd say we had a meeting of the minds, but this woman has no mind.

I knew there was going to be trouble early on, when she looked out at the scoreboard at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium and mentioned that a new scoreboard was needed, because "there was no way to keep score if the game went into overtime." Kid you not.

A few days before the season was about to start, I received an e-mail from Dronet, saying that the Can-Am League needed the Bears' ''rooster.''

When I corrected her and said it was a roster, she insisted, "Nope, it's a rooster. They need a rooster."

I went looking for Foghorn Leghorn.

She also said that the team was not going to produce a game program this season because they ''wanted to go green." It has to be the only ballpark in America without a game program. You know the old slogan, "Can't tell the players without a program." Well, it applies in Newark.

I finally resigned after she maintained that she didn't want any negativity on the team's website. The negativity? The Bears lost the game the night before. She only wanted to promote victories. UGH...I tried to say that the New Jersey Nets lost 70 times two years ago and had to write losing game stories for their website after every single loss, including 19 or so in a row.

This week, the Bears sent out three press releases concerning upcoming promotions.

First, they sent out something that if you clicked on a link and bought a ticket through that link, you would be donating $3 to the Bears' organization. Say what? That's a new one. A fundraiser raising funds for the team itself. A novel approach indeed.

Then, there was a release promoting that if your Pop Warner football team wanted to come to a game and receive discounted tickets, they could come in uniform and receive a discount. No mention of BASEBALL teams, just FOOTBALL. Well, there aren't many active FOOTBALL teams in July, as we know, not even the Jets or Giants. It would have been a tad smarter to approach baseball teams during baseball season for a baseball game. Just my opinion.

And finally, they had another promotion for Military Night, asking any ''troops'' to come to the ballpark. Well, nice thought, but they should have checked with the U.S. Department of Military Affairs first. Since there are no active military bases any longer near Newark and only two part-time National Guard facilities.

Maybe if they promoted ''Veterans' Night,'' it would have worked better. But you can't hold a Military Night with active military members without approval of the government.

It's very sad, but I don't think baseball is long for Newark. I wanted it to work there in the worst way, being a baseball fan, having a team so close to home. But this is a train wreck waiting to happen and it begins with the owner, whose background is in hip-hop entertainment, not baseball.

Like the Unsinkable Molly Brown on the Titanic, I jumped ship before the icy waters swallowed me whole. I didn't wait for the women and children first.

I like the coaching staff of Tim Raines, Ron Karkovice and Jim Leyritz and the players as well (nicest group of guys they've ever assembled in Newark). But this is a mess that won't work.

Here's the final piece to the puzzle: Last week, the Bears held a "Thirsty Thursday" event, where one would buy a ticket for $20 and get a wrist band to have access to a two-hour buffet and all the beer you can drink. Not a bad promotion at all.

Except the fans were told that ''the beer was not ready'' at game time. When the fans asked for a refund, they said that the deal was non-refundable. Need we say more? Apparently, no one decided to cool the beer kegs prior to the game, thus the reason why they weren't ready.

It's a sad state and I feel bad about it, because I so badly wanted to see it succeed.

You can read more of my work at, and This week, in the Observer, we'll have a tribute to Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit coming from someone who knew Jeter when he was a youngster toddling along with his grandfather in North Arlington.

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