Wasting Time on ESPN

By Paul Magno on February 5, 2018
Wasting Time on ESPN
Some fighters are only chum for one or two sharks at the top. (Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

If this one-sided mugging leads to a more competitive encounter next time out, then all will be forgiven. However, that’s not usually how things work in boxing…

This may be of some odd, macabre interest to certain fight fans, but Habib Ahmed’s first ten opponents, combined, only had one professional win. To be precise, his first ten foes sported a combined 1-33-3 record. And he didn’t really step it up all that much in his next 16 bouts, either, facing mostly fellow Accra, Ghana locals who tallied a combined record of 158-157-7.

Despite such a limited level of opposition, Ahmed, who challenged for Gilberto Ramirez’s WBO super middleweight title on ESPN this past Saturday, had somehow managed to become the sanctioning body’s no. 4 contender.

And he performed exactly as one would expect a local club fighter to perform when thrown into a world-class fight against a world-class fighter. Ahmed was battered from one corner of the ring to the next until his people felt he had taken enough abuse to justify his check and plane fare.

Despite the ridiculous claims of the ESPN broadcast crew about how you “just never know,” you usually DO know. And we all kind of knew that the “Wild Hurricane” blew. Well, we suspected it, anyway. He had flown so far under the radar that the only way to have fight video of the guy was if you had access to his family’s home video of his bouts at the Accra Prison Canteen.

In the late 80’s and 90’s, the Puerto Rico-based WBO was slow to gain acceptance as a sanctioning body because of the impression that they actively protected their money-making champs via soft touches against suspiciously ranked no-hopers. Saturday’s sanctioned title fight did little to dispel that reputation. Actually, a brief gander at their rankings, in general, shows pockets of ranked contenders with no quality wins whatsoever, like Ahmed, who seemingly only exist as chum for one or two sharks at the top.

Yeah, every fighter faces their fair share of fall guys and patsies. A few “sure thing” paydays are to be expected from a promoter looking to turn a profit from their investment and from a fighter looking to pad his bank account while he still can. But at some level—usually at the world championship level and/or high profile TV main event level—even the soft touches are a little bit complicated. Maybe a rugged journeyman gets the call or some unknown Midwest pug who came out of nowhere to upset a couple of ranked, veteran contenders. Your main event world title challenger is not supposed to be a guy whose last fight was an eight-rounder held at his neighborhood gym.

But when the sanctioning body and the promoter seemingly work together to keep things nice and simple for the champ and the network host doesn’t seem to know (or care) enough to enforce some sort of quality control, the fans get stuck with garbage.

If this one-sided mugging leads to a more competitive encounter next time out, then all will be forgiven. An ugly ESPN mismatch in February will be forgotten if it leads to a worthwhile, competitive ESPN scrap with the same headliner in July.

However, that’s not usually how things work in boxing. If they got away with Ahmed this time out, then why not look for more Ahmeds until the fans absolutely will not watch another zero-danger defense?

Ramirez-Ahmed was beneath Ramirez and beneath what fans were led to expect from the Top Rank on ESPN series. We all deserve better than what we got on Saturday.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Discuss this in our forums

Related Articles

Leave a comment