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The Hauser Report: Notes and Nuggets

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  • The Hauser Report: Notes and Nuggets

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    By Thomas Hauser

    On Saturday, April 10, Ebanie Bridges fought Shannon Courtenay for the vacant WBA world bantamweight championship. The fact that Courtenay-Bridges was a "world championship" fight is an embarrassment.

    John Sheppard (who oversees BoxRec.com) reports that one out of every seven women's fights is for a sanctioning body belt, with "world" championships near the top of the pyramid. Indeed, Sheppard notes that boxing’s world sanctioning bodies have created more women's "championship" belts than there are active women boxers.

    Bridges entered her "world championship" fight with a 5-0 (2 KOs) ring record. But the caliber of her opponents was appalling. Taken in order, they were:

    * Mahiecka Pareno, whose two career wins came against a woman named Jean De Paz (who has never won a fight)

    * Laura Woods, whose only pro fight was against Bridges

    * Kanittha Ninthim, who has lost twelve of thirteen fights

    * Crystol Hoy, who has won one of eleven fights since 2010.

    * Carol Earl, age 45, whose only career victories came against fighters with a composite ring record of 0-16.

    So how did Bridges quality for a "world championship" fight? Well, Bridges is - shall we say - voluptuous with long blonde hair and given to wearing bikinis. As Boxing Scene recently reported, "There is more footage and photos found online of Bridges in bikinis than there are of her actual fights."

    One might find further elucidation in statements that Bridges made recently to various outlets:

    * "There's plenty of girls with more fights than me. The difference? It's the way I look. Let's be real. If I wore what everyone else wore, people wouldn't be interested. You can criticize me as much as you like. But if I looked plain, then you wouldn't even know this fight was happening. People will tune in to see if this girl wearing lingerie can actually fight or is she just a model? This is an entertainment business. Everyone wears underwear at weigh-ins. Do you want me to wear a paper bag?"

    * “It doesn’t matter what society thinks what you should be doing. If you want to do it, you just f****** do it. I want to stay strong with it. I won’t hide the fact that I’m beautiful. What the f***! I’m going to go over there and going to flex in my lingerie. I’m going to be who I am."

    * “Hey for people who judge me on first sight, open your mind a little bit and maybe you can see that this girl is pretty f****** real even though she has fake ****."

    Prior to fighting Bridges, Courtenay had compiled a 6-1 (3 KOs) record against mediocre opposition. Shannon isn't close to being a world-class fighter. But during the pre-fight promotion, she indicated that she took her trade seriously, saying, "I look at people like Katie Taylor that has done everything she could to raise the bar to allow women like me to fight for a living. And I don't like it being disrespected by not talking about the boxing, talking about what someone's gonna wear at a weigh-in. People like Katie Taylor didn't work her backside off to pave the way for women like me and you to be in this position to talk about underwear."

    The fight itself was a pleasant surprise. Bridges was the physically stronger of the two women and the aggressor for most of the bout. Courtenay landed the cleaner punches but didn't hit hard enough to keep Ebanie off her. A clash of heads in round two bloodied the scalp of each combatant.

    Neither woman had a credible defense. A right hand wobbled Bridges in round five and began the process of closing her left eye. By round nine, the skin around it was a bulging purple mess and the eye was completely shut. At that point Ebanie couldn't see right hands coming, but Shannon lacked the power to put her away. It was a good, honest, low-level club fight.

    The judges ruled unanimously for Courtenay by a 98-92, 98-92, 97-94 margin. She deserved the nod but not by that much.

    Ebanie Bridges has the right to present herself to the public the way she wants to. But for the WBA to sanction Courtenay-Bridges as a "world championship" fight shows how absurd WBA "world championships" can be and why today's better women boxers don't get the respect they deserve.

    * * *

    And now for boxing purists . . .

    I correspond regularly by email with a reader named John. Most of our exchanges are about boxing. Some go beyond the sweet science. Among the thoughts he has expressed that are worth sharing are:

    * "No real fighter takes pride in losing with everyone watching. When did that become an act of courage, to make money on losing? That is not a fighter's mentality. Never has been. That is an entertainer's mentality, an actor's job. Sometimes I get so angry to see people who have the chance of a lifetime do just that. If you want to let people use you, go ahead. But then you are no longer a fighter."

    * "The loss of Hagler so suddenly really has affected people. His reach was deep into the boxing world. He carried himself as a Champion. Many people who are very critical of what boxing has become still look to Hagler as an example of what boxing is. Or should I say was? When did it all become a circus atmosphere in the ring? All this talking that means nothing. All the noise that drowns out the quiet truth of a fighter, men who walk into the ring and do what few men are gifted to do. We had something special. I hope we do not lose sight of that. It takes a lot to get my attention. But the loss of Hagler has stayed with me."

    * "Things used to start with the idea of building something up in the boxing ring based on certain principles. I give you an honest display of good boxing, and you pull your money out and say you appreciate it. Now everyone is so wrapped up in getting money. Every step of the way, every person has got to stick their hand in the pocket of the fight fan. It sickens me."

    * "I do not expect everyone to know from experience what it is like to suffer from hunger. It is not a pleasant thing. Most people think being hungry is having lunch a few hours late. There are people who have grown up and gone to bed hungry many a night. And either you are one of them or you are not."

    Photo credit: Dave Thompson / MATCHROOM

    Thomas Hauser's email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book – Staredown: Another Year Inside Boxing – was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. In 2019, Hauser was selected for boxing's highest honor - induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

    Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel
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