By Lyle Fitzsimmons
While I know I’m not Chris Mannix (I’m older) and this isn’t Sports Illustrated (we’re cheaper), there are no doubt at least a few things he and I have in common.
First off, we’re both featured in multiple forms of media.
Yeah, fine… he works for a gigantic magazine and has a recurring role on a live streaming conglomerate and I write for a boxing-specific website and do an occasional gig on satellite radio.
Second, we both get paid to do things we love.
OK, sure… he’ll makes more at a weeknight speaking engagement than I’d take home for a month of overtime shifts – to say nothing of his actual full-time job.
Funny… the more I think about it, the less ol’ Chris and I have in common after all.
But one thing that remains is that we both put ourselves out there.
Whether it’s in print, online, in front of a camera or alongside a microphone, both my youthful colleague and I have years of experience when it comes to assessing a situation, formulating an opinion and sharing it with the public.
To me, it’s one of the genuine thrills of the job. Not for the ego boost, mind you, but rather for the opportunity it provides to participate in – and sometimes prompt – a healthy debate.
It creates a certain amount of responsibility on this end. To keep myself informed. To enter rooms with an open mind. And once I make a judgment on something, to be able to logically back it up.
As an old newspaper pal, Rocco Laurienzo, once said – “In this business, kid, we sign our work.”
I try very hard. And I think I do it very well.
While I make no claim of consensus on each piece every week, I defy any reader on any Tuesday to scrape aside the opinions and find them built on faulty facts.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
In the meantime, forget the claims of bias. That’s why it’s called a column. Mannix is not just a reporter when he chats about the Los Angeles Lakes and says the Clippers will be superior. Neither am I when I write about Floyd Mayweather Jr. and say he’s had a better career than Manny Pacquiao.
We’re both tasked with providing a viewpoint seeded in accuracy.
And at the end of the day, that’s why people read.
Any competent note-taker can turn around a 2,000-word encyclopedia piece on the sublime genius of a slap-hitting junior flyweight, but when jab comes to cross… the issues that prompt opposite viewpoints are the straws that stir the website-traffic drink.
But with the right of dissension comes a responsibility for maturity.
While I don’t have a moment’s hesitation in banging out a thousand words that I know will leave me with a filled-to-the-brim inbox, I don’t think it’s beyond reason to expect a little decorum when it comes to the feedback my viewpoints might arouse.
Let’s be clear, I don’t care if people disagree with me. We’re all big boys and girls here. And I don’t at all expect everyone to follow my mantras in lockstep from week to week. Truth told, it’s a blast to know that something I write from my living room recliner can trigger someone to reaction.
It’s boxing. It’s supposed to stir passion. It’s supposed to be fun.
Still, there’s a crossable line. And I’d just as soon not have it approached.
I’m a respectful grown-up. I’m a college graduate. And I’m assured enough in the validity of my viewpoints that I don’t feel the need to belittle those who may hold others. It doesn’t mean I’ll change my mind. But it does mean I won’t lob stones if I don’t have them lobbed at me.
All bets are off, though, when the line gets blurred.
Regardless of how learned a responder might be or how much value their points might deserve, they don’t register beyond a blip if accompanied by childish insults or needless suggestions of impropriety.
Case in point… a reader who followed-up on my recent Mayweather-Pacquiao piece.
Rather than a point-by-point list of why I got it wrong when I said Floyd’s run was better – which, incidentally, I’d have happily discussed – the thesaurus-toting emailer went straight to the low road and instantly reduced the rest of his note to forgettable, wordy white noise:
“I once regarded you as the best, and most evenly balanced writer on Boxing scene. But you more and more disappoint, with your fulsome drool over "Money"...Such childish addiction and obsequiousness for a grown man to an ignorant, illiterate cheat., who never made a fight unless he saw a positive advantage for himself and a weakness in his opponent.
“Your ignoring of the actual facts of the pre- and post Corrales travesty, show your bias.
“I still read your articles, but merely to get the next weekend's major matches, and not for their content, which I always previously looked forward to.
“I have followed boxing since I heard, over a scratchy radio, the Louis- Farr fight., wrapped in a blanket, held by my dear elder brother at 3.a.m Irish Time, and had an amateur record of 62-3, losing only my 2nd and last two which were throwaway after retirement.. ...I'm not an expert like you, except in honesty regarding what surrounds a fight.
“To neglect facts reflects on honest journalism. No response desired.”
Pretty impressive, no?
But the more he blathered, the less I read. And the more certain he was that he was winning on points, the more sure I was that he was blown from the ring inside the first minute.
The results won’t change going forward, folks, so let’s dispense with nonsense right here.
If you read the italicized portion and found it amusing at my expense, don’t bother reading anymore.
Be secure in the fantasy that arrogant banter carries weight and feel free to follow through on promises not to read any further whenever you see my byline before a piece.
Save your obscenities. Save your threats. Save your shots at my integrity or breeding.
You don’t impress me. You don’t frighten me. And you don’t bother me.
As for those still reading… whether we agree or disagree, I look forward to the discussions.
I won’t be any less outspoken and I won’t flinch at return fire, but I promise I’ll give your opinions my unfettered attention and I’ll never stray below standards of courtesy.
Mannix or not, neither of us deserves any less.
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This week’s legit title-fight schedule:
No title fights scheduled.
Last week's picks: 1-0 (WIN: Niyomtrong)
2019 picks record: 63-13 (82.8 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,074-356 (75.1 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.