The recent press release pertaining to Peter Manfredo’s next bout caused a tremor of discomfort in my sensitive sensibilities. And this dissatisfaction centred on one key word in the brief release; controversial. In recent years the word controversial has become a broad church for a litany of different conclusions to fights. Whether points, knockout or other intervention the word controversial undermines victory, excuses defeat and adds further murk to boxing’s inherently muddy water.
Obviously, I’m not suggesting Terry O’Conner’s over-eager intervention was anything other than an appalling misjudgement and that Manfredo should never have been stopped at the point he was, but the willingness of his team to use the generic term ‘controversial’ to describe this unsatisfactory end without providing insight into the circumstances surrounding it is to imply an entirely different flavour to the fight. Manfredo was outclassed, out gunned, out thought, outworked and was also a chasm behind in technical ability, speed and probably power.
When we peek back into the history books at some distant point in the future will Manfredo really be considered to have suffered a “controversial” defeat to Calzaghe? Controversial defeat is Hagler v Leonard or DeLaHoya versus Trinidad or Sturm v Oscar. Controversial defeat isn’t performing like a trapped plastic bag snagged on a hedge.
Controversial has to be the most misapplied and overused word in boxing. Another example? Lennox Lewis apparently ‘controversially’ stopping Vitaly Klitschko? Controversial? Lewis put the Ukranian’s face through a blender. It was a legitimate stoppage not a scoring travesty.
Legendary or legend are the only other words that push controversial close.
And despite my anger at its overuse, I’ve added 11 more examples to the extensive over-application we all endure.
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