I wanna tell off Eddie Hearn for trying to steer a heavyweight title bout to Saudi Arabia for $100 million bucks. Or plead with him to consider the women in his life.
Instead, I'll let his actions do the talking -- and plead for the woman in another family's life.
At first, I shrugged and said, Nah.
There's dirty money in boxing from all comers -- how objectionable each promoter-network alliance is may merely be a matter of preference -- and I can't condemn them all.
Well, I can and have, but it's not productive and might lead to death if I continue. So I won't write an article detailing each unseemly source nor will I make the case one transcends the rest.
Do you have issues with drug cartels, Rupert Murdoch hate-fomentation, Russian oligarchs, Middle East journalist-murderers? Which repulses you most and why? Don't forget Manny Pacquiao's senatorial support of Filipino autocrat Rodrigo Duterte (whose favorite pastime is gunning down supposed drug-sellers in the streets).
This essay portion of the SAT is 30 minutes. Begin.
Not gonna write it.
Moreover, boxing -- like the Olympics and World Cup -- is a historically corrupt endeavor. This October will mark 45 years since Ali beat Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle -- an event funded by Zaire kleptocrat Mobutu Sese Seko -- who also assassinated his own citizens beneath the event's stadium.
Take that, megalomaniacal MSG ushers.
So this tall and Jewish writer, who values life over death (only in so much as the former provides surer access to kith and kin and sex), wasn't gonna cover Hearn's announced deal to hold the Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz heavyweight title rematch in a suburb of the Saudi capital named Diriyah.
When this business' endemic mobsterism is obvious to all, when everyone's impure, why risk anything myself -- and how to isolate a single case with any justice? Besides which, there are, sadly, larger questions of realpolitik -- specifically here, the role of Saudi Arabia in checking Iranian power and proxies.
But then I read over the last 24 hours about Loujain al-Hathloul -- who has been jailed and tortured along with several women activists for the last year and a half (her stated crimes include agitating against male guardianship of women and trying to talk to foreign journalists).
This week the Saudis offered al-Hathloul a deal: She could walk if she signed a statement testifying she'd never been tortured.
According to her brother, al-Hathloul would've signed the papers, but she never got the chance -- at the last minute, the Saudis modified their offer, requiring a video-taped pronouncement she'd never been harmed.
That was one act of cruel diminishment -- of insult upon injury -- too many (one senses she knows how quickly that video -- pure misinformation and mendacity -- would spread online). She refused and remains unlawfully, mercilessly detained.
Loujain al-Hathloul -- look at her laugh, Eddie.
And maybe you know well MBS' recruitment of WWE to the Kingdom and its hosting of the inaugural World Boxing Super Series final last year. But consider another whitewashing event -- one held last December 15th -- or a year before Joshua-Ruiz II is scheduled to take place.
An exquisitely painful, awfully ironic episode.
It was the first race of the season for Formula E -- F1 racing, but with electric cars -- and it was held in Diriyah, the same hood slated to hold the heavyweight rematch.
Formula E had earlier made a deal with Saudi Arabia in which the Kingdom paid a tremendous sum to host the season opener for 10 freaking years (the deal also bans races in all other Middle Eastern countries).
Kyle Cheromcha of The Drive on that first event: "Loujain al-Hathloul was nowhere in sight. Which might seem odd, considering who she is; the 29-year-old activist and fierce opponent to the kingdom's female driving ban...
"She has also been tortured...subjected to floggings, electric shocks, sexual harassment, and long periods of solitary confinement -- as have at least nine other detained women who dared to challenge the status quo in some way. Some bear obvious physical signs of abuse, the sources said, such as uncontrolled shaking and difficulty walking. One has reportedly attempted suicide multiple times."
So yeah, after telling the world women could now drive in his sandy fiefdom, MBS has permanently traumatized all the women who'd pushed for such a right. Again, al-Hathloul, in a photo of her driving (the shameless heathen-heretic!) before they took her away:
How much of a heartbreaking charade was this race across the "dunes"?
The Formula E CEO offered this defense: "If I come [to Berlin] and I [rob] a bank, I have a problem, so that's why I don't do it. As long as you respect the laws and the rules, Saudi Arabia is super-welcoming."
The Saudis then agreed on an Orwellian modification to these so-called rules: female racers would lap the track prior to the real event (not Saudi commoners -- actual race car drivers) and women would be granted a special dispensation to report on it.
Let us pause briefly to laugh, amidst the horror, at the popular success of this venture, Trump inauguration-style:
Back to business: I'm not counting on this appeal to common decency to work -- and maybe Ruiz rep Al Haymon brings the heavyweight rematch to the States ultimately anyway.
But what if Hearn or Haymon made a simple demand of their would-be hosts: We'll give you this major bout, and a host of others. We'll even take a lower site-fee. But let them go.
Let Loujain al-Hathloul and her battered compatriots go. The women who agitated for rights supposedly now granted.
If the Saudis blink, Madison Square Garden remains available -- and last I checked, the only crime committed beneath it is Amtrak's customer service.
On a less joking note, and without personally knowing him, I want to believe Al Haymon remains the giving -- if vexed -- loner soul he was 20 years ago.
Specifically, the Haymon who donated hundreds (maybe thousands?) of concert tickets to AIDS counselors in south LA, because the rates of infection for Black and Hispanic people were disproportionately high. And the gay taboo in the black community meant some women were unknowingly sleeping with men who also had male partners.
Haymon's program was simple: Come to a clinic for an HIV test, get a free ticket to a major concert (Luther Vandross, Destiny's Child were just two of the acts featured).
I think also of a rare quote Haymon gave the press.
Haymon told the Boston Herald in August 1991: "There's only going to be a few hundred professional athletes at any one time and only a handful of renowned entertainers. Maybe I can provide an example to black youngsters that there are other ways to be successful in entertainment besides singing, rapping or dancing."
You've been involved mostly in music and sports, Al -- your life feels like a mixed message to this point -- but this move would certainly be so generally humanistic and well-known it'd serve as tremendous example for youth of all colors and propensities.
This wouldn't be one of those faux-philanthropy days athletes spend at their former schools -- those mini-camps that implicitly pass on a wrongheaded notion: Only sports save. Nor would your messenger be the morally-compromised figures you've let upstage you: Floyd, Broner, Gervonta.
Hell, if you're so much like Howard Hughes, just reach out from your bunker, extract Saudi concessions and never tell the media.
We both know Eddie would be all too glad to take the credit anyway.