Convicted Artist Magazine

Oct 02nd
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andre_wardAndre Ward's recent domination of Allan Green brings to mind a question: Has the next mainstream boxing star been right under our noses this whole time?  While few would dispute that Ward would have been a star right out of the Olympics, had those Olympics been 20 years earlier, I think the mainstream media may have outdone their own normal level of bias and stupidity when it comes to boxing, in this particular case.

Ward had the story... a kid from the mean streets of Oakland... lost his father... found Jesus... found boxing... only gold medalist for the USA in 2004, while fighting outside of his natural weight-class.  Add to that him having the right look and temperament for TV interviews, etc.  Add to this a story that would have been three different TV miniseries 25 years ago, and you have to wonder what was missing. 

Well, here's my theory(ies): Mainstream media looks to mainstream sports media for their cues, and that's the problem.  Sports media first targets the big three: Football, Baseball, and Basketball.  Then they follow the sports they can usually participate in on a casual level.  Other than 'Toughman' or 'White Collar Boxing'... boxing hasn't been that kind of sport since the 1940's.  Golf and tennis become popular this way.  Then they follow the compelling story.  While Ward's is certainly compelling, it's been told every way from Sunday.  The 'ghetto black kid makes good' story has been told in every other hip-hop hit song, in countless movies, etc.  The 'lone gold medalist' angle also failed, due to both the disappointment of David Reid, as well as the Bob Arum-invented idea that only Latinos sell tickets.  If you have a publication that caters to Latinos, you will follow soccer and boxing closely, but that same race-marketing angle will mean you focus on the fighters and divisions that feature more Latinos, as well.

For Ward himself, however, this may have been the best thing for his development.  He is reaching his peak fighting years, with the whole boxing world watching, and is now the slight favorite to take the Super Six tournament.  If he had been put into the spotlight immediately, he may have had some tough losses, or been seen/heard doing/saying something that belied his squeaky-clean image.  Maybe he would have been starved to take a money fight with Pavlik.  Maybe he would have bulked back up to fight Chad Dawson too soon.  Any number of things could have altered his course, yet instead he was allowed to thrive under the relaxed spotlight of nitch-marketed fame. 

He is once again, like he was in the Olympics, the right guy in the right place at the right time.  Is there anyone else you would pick to be able to both outbox and bust up Arthur Abraham?  Anyone else you'd pick to out-speed Andre Dirrell?  Anyone else you'd pick to beat Lucien Bute right now in any fashion?  Let's just make sure if he does achieve this goal, that a public relations frenzy is created to make sure he gets the mainstream attention he desevres.  His promoter doesn't reside far from Hollywood.  Let's hope they can pull it off.

Chris Strait

Chris Strait Video Boxing Predictions



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