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Monday, July 4, 2011

The Haye-Klitschko disgrace

Heavyweight championship boxing took a step backward Saturday when David Haye and Wladimir Klitschko performed their remake of ''Saturday Night Fever,'' dancing the night away in Germany.

If anyone hasn't seen this complete and utter circus, here are a few lowlights.

First, Larry Merchant was one of the analysts for HBO and while Larry was once the face of boxing and a great sports journalist, he is way past his prime. Every word that he tried to say was belabored and delayed. He struggled to say everything. Colin Firth in the "King's Speech" got words out faster. Larry's time has come, sad to say. It happens to everyone. He tried to refer to the German fans as all being very drunk and the downpouring rain didn't matter to them, but his reference was lost by the time he got the words out.

Now, for the pre-fight build up. I guess HBO thought it would be cool to have one former heavyweight champion in each boxer's corner. So naturally, fellow Brit Lennox Lewis was dressed in a tux outside Haye's locker room and for some reason, George Foreman was all dolled up outside Klitschko's locker. Why? No one knows. It was never really explained properly.

Jim Lampley talked about the rain and how there was some discussion about cancelling the fight because of the conditions and said that the rain would never reach the ring itself, but he also talked about some portable canvas that would be removed right before the start of the fight. If the rain wasn't reaching the ring, then why have some portable dry canvas? Made no sense, like most of the night made no sense.

Now, before Haye is supposed to make his way into the ring, we get to hear ''Ain't No Stopping Us Now,'' by McFadden and Whitehead. I have a friend, big into disco in the late 1970s, who calls that song ''the anthem.'' It's a popular song.

Apparently, Haye uses it as a battle cry and motivational tool, because it was blaring over and over again, with Haye's faithful fans singing it aloud over and over again. It played for more than 10 minutes straight, waiting for Haye's arrival.

We then receive word that Haye ''isn't ready to come out yet.'' Say what?

He's not ready to come out? Does he think that $12.5 million is going to just be handed to him? This is the same David Haye who blasted Klitschko all week, calling him a ''Russian sissy'' and a ''dickhead.'' Now, he's not coming out? Lewis is standing there in his tux and ''Ain't No Stopping Us Now'' is playing for the 47th time.

Finally, Haye decides to come out. He's wrapped in Reynolds Wrap, head-to-toe tin foil and wearing a ski cap. He's trying to get to the ring, but fans are pushing and shoving their way to get to either him or get in camera range. Security guards (that's right, both of them) are pushing people left and right to clear a path for Haye, but to no avail. It was borderline bedlam.

Now, Haye gets to the ring, wrapped like a piece of flounder prepared to be plopped onto the grill, and here comes Klitschko, but not before some bizarre video presentation, involving Foreman. Maybe George should have popped out one of his famed grills and cooked Haye draped in tin foil. Would have made more sense.

Klitschko then makes his way to the ring, hearing his fair share of boos, but he makes it to the ring a little easier. However, we learned that Haye was standing in the ring, awaiting his opponent, clinging to the tin foil overcoat, for more than 15 minutes.

The fight finally begins and what happens? NOTHING...Absolutely nothing. The two men danced like Fred and Ginger for 12 rounds. The punch counter said that Klitschko threw 134 punches, which is a miniscule number, but Haye threw 72. That's right. He threw six punches a round in a heavyweight title fight. There are two old ladies at the Sunnydale Nursing Home who throw more punches at Wednesday night Bingo.

The decision comes, of course, in favor of Klitschko. After the fight, Haye makes an excuse, stating that he had been fighting with a broken toe for the last three weeks and actually took off his shoe to show the media the broken digit in the post-fight press conference. We kid you not.

Needless to say, this was a heavyweight title fight? On the same parallel with say Ali-Frazier, Ali-Foreman, Foreman-Michael Moorer, Lennox Lewis against anyone?????

This was a disgrace, plain and simple, a hideous and ridiculous circus. How can you look at yourself in the mirror after collecting a $12.5 million payday like Haye did? He robbed everyone blind. And then he says his foot hurt? Oh, please.

No wonder why the sport of boxing keeps taking hit after hit. It has to deal with crapola like this. It sours everyone on the sport. HBO has to be embarrassed by the whole package. It may take years before we see another fight on live free cable TV ever again.

Since when did hot dog eating become a sport? How is this Joey Chestnut on Sportscenter and in the sports pages? If eating was a sport when I was a kid, well, damn, I would have been an All-American. I would have had my own show on some sports network. Eating is not a sport. These are not athletes. I know. I eat. A lot.

Happy Fourth of July. I wish that President Obama (and yes, Fox News, our president is still alive!) would sign a decree today that would make "America the Beautiful," sung only by the late Ray Charles, as the national anthem. That song clearly has more sentiment and power than our regular national anthem. Our country is about beauty and majesty from sea to shining sea, not bombs bursting over the Potomac.

Ray Charles captured the beauty and grace of our country with his version of "America the Beautiful."

If I ever win a gold medal for eating the most pickled eggs at the Olympics when it becomes a sport like hot dog eating, then I want to hear Ray warble "America the Beautiful" for me as they put the medal around my neck.

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