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Mia Goes TMZ
by Bernie McCoy
June 2, 2011
Photo: Poster from 2002
Card-Martin vs. St. John


(JUNE 2) The first clue was TMZ, a televised purveyor of gossip and snark which Mia St. John chose as her messenger of choice to "call out" Christy Martin. Mia chose well. During the one minute clip of drivel, TMZ clearly exhibited a knowledge of the ring that failed to go beyond sparkling carats on left hands. It was an ideal setting for the revisionist history St. John was propagating about a bout in a sport in which she and Martin have toiled for the better part of two decades.

The bout in question was lightly attended, ten round fight in December 2002 in the spacious Silverdome in Pontiac, MI. Martin termed the fight "a fiasco" in a subsequent interview with me. In the early rounds, Martin tried for a KO and failing that, settled into a "going through the motions" mode for the succeeding two-thirds of the bout. At the end, the three judges awarded Martin 23 of the 30 rounds on their collective scorecards. Few ringsiders believed the bout was that close." [Full Video of fight on YouTube]

And yet here is Mia proclaiming, now that she judges sufficient time and memory tracts have faded, that she "kicked her (Martin) ass, but she (Christy) got the decision because, well, you know how corrupt boxing is."
Let's set aside the propriety of charging officials, of a well regarded state athletic commission, with deliberate dereliction and, likewise, ignore that St. John chose to continue, for years following the bout, to perform, very profitably, in the supposed cauldron of corruption. Let us, instead, ponder whether if a fix was, indeed, in and an overwhelming St. John win that is now so obvious to Mia, occurred, why wouldn't those dastardly corrupters be devious enough to make the scorecards a bit closer than: 97-93 (2X) and 99-91 for Martin? But, here again, the wisdom of the choice of TMZ is obvious. Amid a televised paroxysm of "hands in the air" wonderment, the T-shirted Geek Chorus in the TMZ news room emits knowing nods and studied affirmations for Mia's "I was robbed" screed.

Martin is scheduled to fight Dakota Stone this Saturday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles seeking to achieve a 50 win milestone in a 59 bout, 21 year career. Her record and her legacy as the female boxer who paved the path that others continue to follow is secure. I hope that 50 wins satisfies her career goal, but should she wish to continue on in the ring, that choice is Martin's and Martin's alone and should not be affected, or aided and abetted, by a silly "call out" on a silly TV show.

St. John last fought in October, winning a six round decision over Tammy Franks, a 2-12 boxer, in New Mexico. It was St. John's 59th bout over a 14 year span, 46 wins. Her legacy is a bit more complicated. For the first five years of her professional career, "guided" by Bob Arum, St. John posted a lengthy string of wins against "carefully chosen" opposition. At that point, while she could have continued along the "made to order opponent" path, St. John made a decisive choice. She broke with Arum and effected a distinct turn up the competitive ladder. After an unsure start, St. John, serving as her own manager, sought out and stepped in with almost every top fighter in her weight class, including Holly Holm. Jaime Clampitt and Jessica Rakoczy among other notables. She continued to intersperse these highly competitive bouts with a series of "walkover" wins, but the sense of irony that so often previously accompanied reference to Mia St. John as a boxer evaporated. And with good reason.

That's why Mia's descent into the tabloid mire of a TMZ is disappointing, particularly to talk about female boxing to a group lacking in even rudimentary knowledge of the sport. It was disrespectful to Martin, it was unhelpful to a sport St. John has profited from for many years and, frankly, it did nothing to burnish the image of Mia St. John, professional boxer. Does she have the right to campaign for what might be a relatively lucrative payday with Christy Martin? Of course. Such a bout might be more of a distraction than an attraction for Women's boxing, but that certainly won't be a first time experience for the sport. Does St. John owe anything to the sport of Women's boxing? No, she doesn't, no more than any other female athlete who more than completes her obligation to the sport each time she ducks thru the ropes. But I think it's fair to ask that a bold face type personality such as Mia St. John at least give a few seconds of thought to her choice of whom she talks to, and what she says about a sport, her sport that continues to struggle against outside attitudes and prejudices and does not need additional distractions coming from the inside.

Bernie McCoy

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