posted on Sep, 17 2003 @ 06:58 PM
Daily News, New York - September 16, 2003
Through its "Real Sports" series, assorted documentaries, and other shows, HBO Sports has set high standards in journalism, giving the network
credibility most other network sports outlets either don't aspire to or enjoy.
On Saturday night, after Sugar Shane Mosley scored a unanimous decision over Oscar De La Hoya, George Foreman damaged HBO Sports' reputation. He acted
with reckless irresponsibility, reminiscent of a sports radio talkie who doesn't know the difference between facts and Fig Newtons.
Foreman and his partners, Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant and Harold Lederman, thought De La Hoya won the fight. Only Foreman went outside the ring to
provide a reason why all the judges scored the fight (115-113) in favor of Mosley.
"I think it was a protest vote against (De La Hoya's promoter) Bob Arum," Foreman said. "I really do. Someone is trying to send a statement to Bob
Arum more than Oscar De La Hoya. Maybe we need to check into that."
Need to check into that? Please, the time for Foreman, or someone at HBO, to "check into that" was before the fight. If Foreman knew - or even
believed - someone with juice would "send a statement" to Arum by making sure De La Hoya lost a close decision, he had a responsibility to go public
before the fighters ever stepped in the ring.
After Foreman cast a cloud of conspiracy over the decision, it was incumbent upon him to articulate specific reasons to back up his statement. Lampley
should have asked Foreman two questions: 1)Why is someone looking to damage Arum? 2)What proof of all this do you have, George?
Granted, Foreman has a history of offering wacked-out theories. To this point, none has been conspiratorial in nature.
Lampley left it up to Merchant to do the dirty work and counter Foreman. Merchant wasn't buying Foreman's theory. If anything, Merchant reasoned, it
would have been in the best interest of the entire boxing industry for De La Hoya to win the fight. The Golden Boy is boxing's cash cow.
"He's the star . . . he's the one who made this event," Merchant said. "So in that sense (the decision) is shocking. But to say, or suggest as George
does, that there was some kind of conspiracy against Oscar De La Hoya, I'd have to know why."
The bet is Merchant knew exactly "why" Foreman reacted to his words angrily.
"You don't know boxing, Larry," Foreman said. "You just speak boxing."
This was Foreman again reverting to the creep he was before his highly publicized discovery of God, country and grilling machine. And anyone who was
offended by his treatment of Merchant, or Foreman ripping his own partner during a show, isn't paying attention.
Did they suddenly forget Foreman's off-screen confrontation with Lampley after their on-screen argument during HBO's Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis II
Don't they remember Foreman hammering Lampley and Merchant during the Roy Jones Jr.-John Ruiz fight?
And what happened after Corrie Sanders knocked out heavily favored Wladimir Klitschko last March? Merchant said Sanders' win was a "shock" to the
"No, I think this is a shock to your world, Larry," Foreman said. "I don't think the boxing world is that surprised."
All this is small potatoes after what came out of Foreman's mouth early Sunday morning. Foreman is no fool. Either he really knows something or
someone in De La Hoya's camp spun him.
Was it just a coincidence that, during the postfight press conference, Arum urged boss scribes to watch HBO's Saturday replay of the fight to hear
Foreman's "assessment" of why De La Hoya lost to Mosley?
Arum should not hold his breath. It's doubtful HBO suits will look to be embarrassed again and allow Foreman's remarks to be part of the cablecast.
Out of sight, out of mind.
And if anyone asks, they'll just say: "It's George being George."