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Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Boo, Boo, Boo to Sports Illustrated 

The news released this week by HBO that the Pacquiao-Morales 2 pay-per-view on Jan. 21 drew 350,000 buys was further proof, as if any were needed, that good people will pay good money for great fights. This was 10,000 more buys than their first encounter last March 19, won by Morales, even despite Morales's defeat on Sept. 10 by Zahir Raheem.

Since each buy represents one household, and usually a few people in that household watch a pay-per-view, especially one going for $44.95, it is safe to say that perhaps a million or more people in the U.S. shelled out some cash last Saturday night to view it, rather than just watch whatever else was showing on TV for free.

No major alphabet soup title was at stake in this fight. The only draw was that two evenly-matched grand warriors with a history of giving it their all in the ring would once again face each other. You shouldn't need a degree in history to understand how deep that appeal has been throughout the ages.

Nonetheless, the magazine which claims to be the leading light of sports journalism, Time Warner's Sports Illustrated, totally ignored what turned out to be an early fight of the year candidate. In its print edition dated Jan. 30, they had nothing, zilch on Pacquiao-Morales 2.

Fight of the year? Who cares? This same issue had an interview with noted athlete Jimmy Kimmel, a photo and piece on Anna Benson, and something about the International Festival of Balloons. For a moment I thought someone had inserted a copy of something like Maxim or Us into my issue. But no, with all this glorious journalism and brilliant sportswriting, there just wasn't any room left in this highly civilized magazine for such ruffians.

Even in the "Week Ahead" section, where they hype Saturday's Gatti-Damgaard fight on HBO, no mention was made that Pacquiao-Morales 2 will be rebroadcast right before that live fight. A potential fight of the year is invisible to the suits who run this thing.

Of course, a bang-up job was done by Rich O'Brien, who actually has the title of SI's boxing editor, on their web site both of previewing this fight and analyzing it. But being their boxing editor is kind of like being the country music editor at The Source, or, if you must, the hip-hop editor at Country Weekly: no matter what you do, and no matter how popular your subject is, your editors won't get it and your publishers won't want the readers who do.

I know a lot of people both in boxing and who are just fans of it who used to subscribe to Sports Illustrated. Somewhere along the way SI virtually dropped any regular coverage of boxing, and gradually many of these readers, who often also like many other sports, drifted away and let their subs expire.

But let the corporate print world rot in their seas of narrowness, prejudice, elitism, snobbery, stupidity, mediocrity, and, more and more, red ink. Right now you are reading the medium which represents both the present and future of journalism. Theirs will soon exist only in morgues and museums.

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