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Ali Vs. Martin
WBAN Senior Editor

Opinionated lines, ominous signs, and personal pre-fight whines about Ali-Martin...

1. Relax, women's boxing does not hang in the balance, as the Associated Press would like everyone to believe. No, there isn’t a conspiracy out there to get rid of the sport -- although there’s a lot of subconscious biases against the sport in many boxing writers and media types everywhere.

As usual, a "big time" bout has popped up on the radar screen, and newsrooms everywhere scramble to find a boxing "expert" to write about it. Problem is, virtually none of them have an appreciation for what is really happening, and that it was only seven years ago when the sport was truly "born" in the United States. So, writers come in to cover Ali-Martin, and write from largely ignorant perspectives, even many full fledged boxing writers.

Sure, Ali-Martin will be big, and fun, and Ali will win probably by a fairly easy decision. But please don't ignore all the good publicity the sport is getting from many notable media types, the swelling amateur ranks, the generally acknowledged skills improvement in many women's fights today as compared to just four or five years ago.  

No, Ali-Martin does not hold the fate of the sport in their hands. Hardly. It will help if it's a good fight, a good show, and all that goes along with it, but the sport continues to grow, slowly, surely, steadily, not without its herks and jerks, to be sure. But could we do a little better, next time, before a national news organization decides to pin the hopes of thousands of women boxers on one fight, please?

Happily, the coverage in many of Saturday's papers is generally better and more reflective of the sport than many of the earlier stories about it, but if a national organization or entity would make a concerted effort to help educate the national media and fans about the sport as a whole, it would be one of the greatest steps forward women’s boxing could make.

2. Funniest Christy quote, "Don taught me that (how to create a scene). He would have been proud. That's how you build interest" Her take on the little press fight dust-up which got plenty of national exposure, but might have actually defied the logic of any publicity is better than no publicity at all.

3. Most insightful Ali quote, "“All they’re gonna say is that Christy Martin is old, she’s at the end of her career, and that she’s too small. This is not about gaining respect; I want to make that clear. What this is about is about whupping somebody who has called me out and has been very disrespectful, and making money. That’s what this is about." Funny about Ali, when her strings aren't being pulled and her buttons being pushed, she's engaging, funny and honest. Sadly, we see less and less of that side of her.

4. Ali needs to back up her words, though, and in earnest, about helping to promote women's boxing. Although Mahfood-Wolfe is an attractive matchup, this is a missed opportunity to showcase the sport. The best fighters will be in the arena tonight, but outside the ring, not in it.

5. On the horizon: Ali v. Ward, probably late in 2003 or early 2004 in Cleveland. It will sell well there. Martin: soccer mom.

And by the way, Ali-Frazier V (Laila-Jacquie II for the purists) is suddenly looking a little dustier than it was a while ago. Frazier has been disturbingly inactive. The names will still sell the fight at a pretty reasonable level -- but it seems like it will be difficult to approach the sheer excitement of their first meeting. The first 120 seconds of that fight are the most memorable in the sport in the last decade. But, when at one point a rematch seemed inevitable, don’t bet the house in it happening.

6. Speaking of Mahfood v. Wolfe, is there any lady in the sport harder to root against than Val. Still, her career and Wolfe's are headed in opposite directions. Wolfe with a mid-to-late stoppage will avenge her earlier loss to Mahfood.

7. Funniest moment not related to the Ali-Martin prefabricated press conference slap down:. Gail Grandchamp. If I understand this correctly, she actually thinks she will get a fight with Ali. "They'll call me, trust me," said Grandchamp, "because we're already in contact and she's not going to like the words." Uh huh. What? Marjorie Jones isn't available any more?

8. Too heavy, too slow, too old. Three strikes and Martin is out. Well, not literally, but Ali is skilled enough to stay away early, and if Martin doesn't land a big one in the first few rounds, she has little chance of winning. For at least two years, Martin has been uninspired, uninteresting and generally inconsequential. She'll be stoked for a few rounds, but reality will set in all too soon for her. Ali in a unanimous and not overly inspiring decision, somewhere along the lines of 97-93 on the scorecards.



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