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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Showtime Analyst Steve Farhood speaks on boxing, objectivity, and the Mayweather-Pacquiao fallout

If you were ever looking for anyone whose life was consumed by the sport of boxing, Steve Farhood would be a fine choice. Currently serving as a commentator to Showtime’s very successful ShoBox: The New Generation series, Farhood’s life revolves around the sport in several different ways.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York until the age of twelve when he relocated to Manhattan, Farhood is a self-described ‘city rat’ who remembers playing ball as a youth while being a casual fan of boxing. He never had thoughts of pursing the sport but it was an avenue that unexpectedly presented itself.

“Boxing kind of picked me, I didn’t pick boxing,” Farhood claims. “When I graduated college in 1978 with a degree in journalism I tried to get a job at a newspaper and I got rejected all over the place. I ended up getting a job with a magazine company to put out boxing and wrestling magazines. I’ve been doing it ever since.”

During his initial foray into boxing Farhood was intrigued by not only the sport itself, but also the intimate nature in which he got to cover it. Boxers are rare breeds of athletes and unlike many other sports Farhood was able to see first hand how their lives revolved and what made them tick. That along with several other learning aspects began to fill Farhood’s time in the sport with much discovery.

“I grew up during the Ali era and of course boxing was in everyone’s consciousness,” Farhood notes. “What I liked about it right away was that as a writer, a member of the media, I found it fascinating to have access to these very special, different kind of athletes. To just have access to the sport was fascinating in terms of the boxing and business end of it. To be able to watch all of it happen without being financially involved, which is dangerous, was a pleasure and it still is 31 years later.”

Farhood’s involvement in the sport comes with its share of responsibilities. More than anything else his duties as an announcer come with the understanding that he must find a way to remain unbiased at all costs. Not always an easy task with the endless amount of engaging characters in the sport but for Farhood it was something that was instilled within him.

“Being objective is easy because I’m a trained journalist and objectivity is something we always strive for,” Farhood remarks. “I know that the fans sometimes don’t see it that way but I really don’t care who wins the fight. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have favorites, of course I do because I’m human, but once the fight starts it’s just a fight to me.”

Outside of being objective there is still much knowledge that needs to come from one looking to be a professional in the sport. From Farhood’s end it is important to know about the sport as a whole, from the fighters of this generation all the way to the storied history that has made the sweet science what it is today. Farhood was lucky enough to soak up much from some of the sport’s best as a youth.

“If you are smart enough when you are young, you shut up and listen,” he continues. “I was fortunate to learn from Eddie Futch, Angelo Dundee and others. In terms of breaking down fights, if you see enough of them, talk to enough trainers, and when you are young and learn from the best you can apply what you learn later on.”

Farhood points out that there have been an endless list of memories that he has collected along the way but points out that Holyfield-Tyson and Pryor-Arguello as well as matches with Ray Leonard and Muhammad Ali all left an imprint. The New Yorker also laments that keeping pace with the always evolving nature of the sport is a task in itself.

“Probably the number one thing I have learned is that I have a lot to learn,” a modest Farhood states. “You never learn everything. There is a lot about the business of boxing that is very interesting that I am still learning. Just watching fights ringside you learn a lot. Boxing changes, athletes change, training changes. It’s a liquid thing and it always changes. You have to stay on top of how it’s changing. That’s interesting in itself.”

Speaking further, Farhood elaborates how the sport is constantly in moderation. Unlike years past when the coverage of the sport was strictly in print, today’s modern era has allowed us to get a look at fighter’s who would have otherwise been obscure in the past. For Farhood it is a constant grind, but one very much full of passion.

“There’s never a day that goes by that I somehow don’t work on boxing,” Farhood says. “It’s a full time thing for me. I have to watch a lot of tapes and obviously I can’t watch every fight live. I DVR a lot of tapes and try to watch most of what’s on television. I go to Youtube because there are a lot of fighters who haven’t been on television. The internet has changed boxing because now you can become familiar with fighters who haven’t been on television that you may not have ever seen before. When there is a show that I have to cover I do my research, look at my old notes, watch tapes of those fighters specifically, and I still write also. You put it all together and it’s still a busy time.”

Two fighters who Farhood doesn’t have to go online to get a first look at are Floyd Mayweather Jr. and ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley, who are scheduled to face each other this May 1st at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. In hearing Farhood speak on the contest it’s obvious that he is very much anticipating it, with hopes that it will lead to something greater down the road.

“I’m excited by it,” Farhood states. “Would I rather see Mayweather and Pacquiao? Yes, like everyone else. I think Mayweather-Mosley is a fight we all secretly wanted for a while. We’ve wanted to see Mayweather fight the best Welterweights and Mosley proved in the Margarito fight that he has plenty left. I still think Mayweather will beat him but I still think it’s a great fight, especially if it leads to Mayweather-Pacquiao, which I hope it does.”

There were initial hopes of Mayweather and Pacquiao meeting on March 13th but it has been well documented how their situation fell apart over the now infamous Olympic style drug testing fiasco. Looking back on how everything played out, Farhood still speaks with a little bit of disbelief in his voice.

“First of all I was shocked when they came to an agreement financially and the fight still didn’t happen,” Farhood claims. “Nine times out of ten the problem is money and here it wasn’t money. I’m surprised when two guys could have made that kind of money and it still couldn’t happen. With that said I blame both fighters and both camps but I blame a little bit more on Mayweather because I think in requiring what he was requiring in drug testing he was asking for more than the standard. If he has no proof that Pacquiao is cheating in any way than he has no right to do that. He was asking for a little too much.”

Pacquiao will still be fighting on March 13th but has his sights set on bruising Accra, Ghana fighterJoshua Clottey, a very capable pugilist in his own right. While this may not be the fight that we have all hoped for, Farhood finishes off by saying it is one that certainly has its share of danger attached to it.

“I think it’s dangerous because when you think you are going to be fighting the biggest fight of your life and you don’t get it, of course it’s only natural that there will be a little bit of a letdown. But you know we’ve been waiting for a letdown from Pacquiao and it’s never happened. He brings the same intensity and if anything he’s getting better. I think he could have a little trouble but I think he’s too fast and the amazing thing is that every time he fights he gets a little bit better. That’s rare for a fighter at his level. I think he’ll win but I could see him having some bumpy moments along the way.

Author: Chris Robinson

Source: examiner.com

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