Joe Bruno on Boxing — Boycott Pay-Per-View

Okay wiseguys, so you say how can someone make a comeback if you never heard of him in the first place. Well, stick around and I’ll give you the grand tour.
No, I’m not that Joe Bruno, the esteemed Republican senator from upstate New York who’s trying to end rent control as we presently know it in New York State. Love the guy. Wish we were related. But it was not meant to be.
No, I’m not that Joe Bruno, the former fire commissioner of New York City, who’s now a judge in New York and not doing so well, I hear. Seems he let a guy go out on low bail recently, and the nut killed someone, but hey, no one’s perfect. Thank God I’m not him either.
This Joe Bruno was a boxing judge in New York State in 1979, and I had the misfortune of being one of the judges the night Willie Classen was killed by Wilford Scypion with two right hands to the head at the start of the tenth round. Eva Shain was the other judge, and Lew Eskin was the referee. I wrote the cover story for Ring Magazine on that fight, and within three months I had my own boxing column (with my cute little picture on top) with the News World, (later called the New York Tribune), a small daily newspaper in New York city. I did five boxing columns a week, three on one entire page every Monday. (My column was also duplicated in Spanish for our sister paper Noticias Del Mundo)
At the time, I was the only sportswriter working for a daily newspaper in New York City who did a regular boxing column. To wit: Mike Marley had stopped his boxing column at the time for the New York Post, and started up again afterward. Mike Katz was then with the New York Times (now he’s with the Daily News), and while he covered boxing, he did no columns, (God forbid a boxing column in the Times, that liberal rag which has called for the abolition of boxing more times than Bill Clinton has dropped his trousers in hotel rooms). And Wally Matthews had not yet started working for the now defunct New York Newsday. (Matthews has since moved to the Post, and may be the best boxing writer in America, that is, until Joe Bruno’s return)
Cynics may say I was working for a conservative piece of garbage that was owned by the Reverend Sun Yung Moon. And I say, the Moon guy paid good money, didn’t try to convert me, didn’t force me to marry a woman I never met, and I didn’t have to sell too many flowers at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel either. So there.
I also did a monthly column for that eccentric icon Bert Randolph Sugar at Boxing Illustrated from 1980-85, and my work also appeared in Boxing Today, Inside Boxing, and Penthouse Magazine. (Yes, I kept my clothes on). In 1986 and 1987, I wrote a twice-a-week boxing column for the Times Herald Record in Middletown, New York. Most recently I did two pieces for International Boxing Digest for my old friend Herb Goldman; an interview with Teddy Atlas, and the story surrounding Tommy Morrison’s revelation he had AIDS.
I was elected the vice president of the Boxing Writers Association from 1981-85, and I helped found the International Boxing Writers Association, along with Marc Maturo of the Gannett Newspapers, of Rockland County in New York. Marc was the president. I was the vice president. We folded four years later because Marc had the audacity to get married. Shit happens.
So why am I back?
Flashback to the movie Network , where Peter Finch yells out the window, and says to the world, “I’m sick and tired, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
Well brother, now that now goes for me too. In spades. This former scribe is sick and tired of boxing fans all around the world being duped into parting with their hard earned cash in order to support the mighty monstrosity called Pay-Per-View. And now I’m going to do something about it. For the first time in my life, I’m writing about boxing, and not getting paid for it, so you better believe that I sincerely believe in what I’m preaching.
This Pay-Per-View horror has got to stop, and the only people who can stop it is you. This is the perfect case where the victims themselves can choose not to be a victim any more.
Face it fools, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. So smarten up. Starting right now.
I’m sure everyone here has received notification in the mail saying they are the “Big Sweepstakes Winner!!!” of one stupid promotion, or another. How many of you have actually made any money filling out those ridiculous forms? Those with their hands up, may be excused to go directly to the bathroom.
Well, right in this space, I’m offering you the means to put your hard-earned cash back into your pocket, and more importantly, how to keep it there. Money that people like you were free to spend as they saw fit, before their homes were conspiratorially wired with that little black box that brings you Pay-Per-Fucking-View. (Ladies, please excuse the words Pay-Per-View).
As recently as the 1980’s, big fights that are now shown on Pay-Per-View were either shown on free TV, or on such cable networks as ESPN, USA, and for special occasions, on additional pay tier channels like HBO and Showtime. When I covered the Larry Holmes-Renaldo Snipes heavyweight championship in Pittsburgh in the early 1980’s, the fight was showed free on ABC television. Most of Muhammad Ali’s title fights in the 1970’s, such as ones against Richard Dunn, and Karl Mildenburger were also shown on free TV. Sure, they were stiff fights, but they were free stiff fights. When Ali lost his first fight to Ken Norton, that fight was on free TV, as well as both of Ali’s fights against Leon Spinks. Only blockbusters like Ali-Frazier and Ali-Foreman were shown on closed-circuit TV’s at arenas, and movie houses across the nation.
The closed circuit excursions of the 1970’s galled me a hell of a lot less than the 1990’s Pay-Per-View robberies, because at twenty five 1970’s dollars a pop, it was a fun night out with the boys. Not just stupid old you, sitting home alone like that MaCaully Culkin kid in the movies, praying you get a competitive fight for up to fifty bucks a shot.
First, lets examine some recent Pay-Per-View flops, that left paying boxing fans crying their stolen eyes out. Starting with the worst, first:
1. Mike Tyson’s get-out-of-jail first fight special against Peter McNeeley— NcNeeley went down less than a minute into the fight from either a left hook, a stiff breeze, or a hard stare from Tyson. Then, as McNeeley was just starting to fight back, his manager (partner-in-crime?) Vinnie Vecchione jumped into the ring and stopped the fight for a Pizza Hut Pizza. Of course, no refunds.
2. Tyson-Buster Mathis Jr.–Tyson had the good sense to carry the fat stiff for three rounds, and the first mean punch Tyson threw, Mathis went down like a beached whale. Still no refunds.
3. Tyson- Frank (No Relation) Bruno–Bruno, maybe the least talented heavyweight champion of all time (what do you want? He’s British), looked as frightened as Tyson’s first date after Iron Mike got out of jail for rape. Whenever Tyson got in close, Bruno hugged him like he wanted to waltz, and quite possibly kiss him too. Finally, Bruno went down from a barrage of punches, half of which had completely missed their terrified mark. Don King still kept your money.
4. Sugar Ray Leonard-Hector Camacho- This fight was a robbery of a different color. Not only did Leonard put up little resistance to the light-hitting Camacho, he admitted after the fight, he should not have never been in the ring in the first place, due to an injured calf. Hell, a real injured calf on the way to the slaughterhouse would’ve hit Camacho with more meaningful punches than Leonard did. So after admitting he bilked the public at $39.95 a pop, Sugar Ray still kept your cash.
And who are the beneficiaries of that treacherous little black box called Pay-Per-View?
1. Don King, a twice convicted of felonies he was later pardoned for, who has a bad hair day every freeking day.
2. Bob Arum , a sleazy Harvard bred lawyer (need I say more about Bullshit Bob?), who once said to sportswriter Bob Water of Newsday, “Yesterday I was lying. Today I’m telling the truth.”
3. Butch Lewis, a tuxedo without a shirt, who formerly sold used cars, and recycled teeth to the Spinx Brothers.
4. The Duva clan, who’s patriarch Lou looks like a reject from a Deputy Dog cartoon (Okay, they’re Italian, so I’m giving give them a break).
5. Donald Trump, whose hardcover book Art of the Deal, was recently seen selling at a chain bookstore for fifty cents, and still saw no takers. Conversely, Marla was selling for a few bucks more, and the line was out the door. (Only kidding, The Donald).
6. All the casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, who have been robbing your money for years, without pay-per-view.
Well people, it is time to smarten up, and I’m going to show you how.
First of all, stop envisioning every Pay-Per-View fight as something you must see, or you’re totally uncool, and start looking at it as a investment of your time, and more importantly, your hard-earned cash. When I wrote my boxing columns for the New York Tribune in the early 1980’s, on the day of a Pay-Per-View fight I deemed unworthy, I wrote a list of alternative things to do the night of the fight. So, I’ll try this tricky tactic again.
Listed below are much wiser expenditures for your hard earned cash rather than wasting it on unworthy Pay-Per-View fights:
1. Take your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, or whatever out to dinner—For fifty dollars, you can eat a damn good meal, and have a better chance of getting lucky, than if you flipped the coin on a Tyson-versus nobody Pay-Per-View fight being competitive.
2. Go see a good movie— Wouldn’t you rather see New York City crumble in Independence Day, rather than Peter McNeeley fumbling on the canvas for a slice of pizza?
3. Read a good book—-All right, I’m stretching it here, but I’m sure you’d get more thrills reading “Underboss–The Life of Sammy The Bull Gravano in the Mafia” than you would from seeing a bad imitation of Sugar Ray Leonard stumble around the ring against a chubby un-Macho Camacho.
4. Watch free television instead—Come on, seeing Seinfeld, Frazier, Friends, or even 3rd Rock From the Sun has got to be more fun that seeing Pernell Whitaker bob, weave, boogaloo, make a near mockery of the sport, and then claim he was obviously robbed by the three Las Vegas judges. Puh-leez!.
5. And Finally—Put the fifty dollars you’re tempted to spend on Pey-Per-View under your pillow. Then chill out and go to sleep. The next morning, remove the fifty bucks and put it back in your wallet. Then read the newspaper coverage of the fight from people who are paid to suffer through monstrosities like the Lennox Lewis- Oliver McCall fiasco.
Besides saving yourself some cash, you’ll accomplish one more important objective by refusing to buy any more pay fights on your home TV. When enough people band together and just say NO to Pay-Per-View, they will finally force the robber baron promoters to consider other venues to exhibit their fights. When the Pay-Per-View cash cow is slaughtered by prudent boxing consumers, weasels like Don King and Bullshit Bob Arum will revert back to putting these fights on HBO, Showtime, ESPN, USA Network, and maybe even one day, back on free TV.
If you wish, you can invest the money you save in your local club fights, where the poor promoters traditionally take a bath in order to develop, and showcase new pugilistic talent.
The choice, boxing fans, is up to you. You can be the mighty Hammer of Thor, or the lowly nail, destined to be smashed into oblivion and the poorhouse.
If you refuse to do as I suggest, you might as well drop your drawers, bend over, and take what you most decidedly deserve from Don King and his criminal cohorts.
And boxing fans, they don’t even use Vaseline.


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