The following is one of the weekly “Hook to the Liver” columns by WBC President Jose Sulaiman that are published in El Universal every Sunday. From May 2, translated from Spanish:
HOOK TO THE LIVER
By Jose Sulaiman
The Importance of Television in Boxing
During 47 consecutive years, Televisa in Mexico showed boxing on open TV every Saturday without interruption or exception – almost five decades that planted the Saturday night boxing that was seen from coast to coast and border to border by Mexican families that used to watch it, setting a record that might not ever be broken in the future of the sport. It was under the leadership of Don Emilio Azcárraga Milmo, for whom I had the utmost respect and admiration, and who honored me with his friendship.
Televisa was only three years short of completing a full half century showing boxing live on open the screen that was started by its founder Emilio Azcárraga Vidaurreta with TELEVICENTRO, including boxing, soccer, bullfights and baseball at the times of the Cuban heroes Martin Dihigo and Lázaro Salazar.
After 15 years of having sent open TV to Pay Per View in Mexico, which was really for those who had money to pay it and totally away from the people, Mexican boxing came down dramatically as the youth, the children, the ladies, and the usual boxing fans were kept away from the sport by television, which had been always a social entertainment gift for the people.
It was only about three years ago that TV Azteca picked the banner and projected with enthusiasm and commitment to take boxing up to take it to the highest moments in the history of the sport in Mexico, getting inclusive a TV rating of 24 points, to make the eyes of the world turn to see Mexico flying up to become the second most active country of the world, only after the USA, and getting even more attention than the front page of the newspapers, now converted in the red page of today’s news that dedicate most of their articles to violence and crime.
On Friday I took a call made by Radio Formula and its three popular radio commentators, Edgar Valero, Enrique Bermudez and Enrique Burak, which moved me to think over television today. They asked me about my opinion in regards to the rejection of the promoter and the boxers Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley of fighting for the WBA title to avoid paying the sanction fees, to which I responded that it was for me a humiliation and a threat to all world boxing institutions, which are who open the doors to all boxers from their very beginning, bringing them into the world ratings, to give boxers the opportunities to win world titles that lead them to fame and glory. They enjoy it for a while to fall next into the paws of the giant TV corporations and some promoters, once that boxers have become the top of the cream, taking away the merits and kicking in the behinds of the world sanctioning bodies, once they don’t need them any more, while those organizations continue working, through the good and the bad, to bring more boxers to the top, to see again the same lesson be repeated once and again.
If this practice is not remedied, and as they can not produce the elite boxers that are born and formed by the modest boxing promoters and the local boxing commissions, boxing will be led to extinction as a great competitive sport in no more than 25 to 50 years.
Oscar de la Hoya, the promoter, as well as the WBC’s superheroes, Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley, built their greatness on the opportunities that the WBC, and less frequently, other colleague organizations gave them, while HBO reached the top of boxing TV, showing the best fights in half a century of the WBC.
These three great boxers continue being my personal heroes and absolutely the pride of the WBC, as well as keeping my respects for HBO. But how sad and unfair it is that they have forgotten the institutions that opened their doors and let them to conquer glory and the pride of the boxing fans of the world. As the fight Mayweather-Mosley is going to be exclusively for the money and only to see who is going to win over the other, with no other interest, and as a boxing fan, I have decided to stay home to watch it on the Mexican Televisa, which does recognize and respect always those which have been an important part to take boxers to the heights.
On another subject, I could have never imagined the support received from all over the world, including firmly the United States, for the steps taken by the WBC and FECOMBOX – absolutely all of the boxing commissions in the Mexican Republic – for not extending boxing permissions for Mexican boxers to go to Arizona in professional fights. It should be inadmissible that still in the 21st Century one could accept the humiliating ruling of an anti-immigration law that is nothing but a flagrant violation of the basic principles of respect to human dignity and the equality of races. President Obama himself and the president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, have expressed their strong their unhappiness for this clearly discriminatory law.