Well, I really put my foot into it the other day when I undertook to explicate the business of local boxing. I thought I was performing a small public service by writing up what I have learned by hanging out on the edges of the boxing world, but all I did was anger people that I thought were friends and make my life miserable.
My big transgression was in characterizing the career of Mike Faragon, an undefeated 24-year-old lightweight from Guilderland for whom I have the highest regard, as consisting of “going against a carefully chosen opponent who can be counted on to make a decent showing without any great danger of winning.”
When his trainer and adoptive father, Andy Faragon, called to express a dissenting view I had to hold the phone at arm’s length, so thunderous was the volume and so sulphuric the message.
Carefully chosen opponents? How dare I? It was tantamount to saying Mike has been fighting bums and creampuffs, which is certainly not the case. What’s more, it provides ammunition to those idiots, with whom I’m not acquainted, who have been saying those very things.
Lisa Elovich of Pugnacious Promotions, which has put on eight of Faragon’s fights, also dissented, if less volcanically.
“He fights anyone I ask him to fight,” she said. “The only reason he hasn’t fought a top-level opponent is we haven’t had television. He always wanted competitive fights. He didn’t have Midwestern opponents flown in to build his record. He always had to fight tough Latino and New York City fighters. His promoter didn’t come through with television, so he had to fight club-level opponents.”
Andy Faragon’s assistant or partner, known to me only as Rocky, likewise insisted it’s not fair to say that the opponents are carefully chosen. The truth, rather, is that Mike is “carefully managed,” and when I said that amounts to the same thing, he withdrew the explanation and substituted, “He’s managed the way he should be managed,” which is how he said I should report it and which I hereby do.
Mike Faragon is managed the way he should be managed.
The goal is to build his record to 20-0, at which point he will be eligible for a good-money fight on television, as Andy Faragon explained it to me earlier and as Rocky repeated. That’s the magic number for some reason. If he loses a fight at this critical point in his career and drops to 16-1, he has to go back to the beginning and start over. He is no longer television material. Such is the weird world of boxing.
Right now he will fight anyone, yes, but only if the money is right. He’s not going
to fight a top-level fighter and risk everything for small-town change.
“We would never put Mikey in against someone where the reward is not worth the risk,” Rocky assured me, which certainly makes sense.
“We’d fight Brandon Rios,” he said, referring to the World Boxing Association lightweight champion, “but we’d have to get $500,000,” just to give you an idea where the sights are set, whether realistically or not.
For the few thousand dollars that can be offered locally, Faragon gets commensurate opponents. It’s not that he’s dodging anyone. He’s being managed the way he should be managed, very carefully and with an eye on the main chance. Little money, little risk until he gets to 20-0.
If you would like to interpret that as a retraction of my original statement that his opponents are carefully chosen to make a decent showing without any great chance of winning, you may do so. Or you may interpret it as a clarification, an amplification or anything else, to suit yourself.
Mike Faragon is a terrific fighter in any case. Just how terrific we’ll find out if and when he eventually meets some other 20-0 fighter.
Lisa Elovich also wants me to know — or you to know — that Pugnacious Promotions is not a failed company despite having canceled its annual Saratoga card and having no other programs in the works.
Since starting up in 2005, it has promoted 19 boxing shows on its own and co-promoted six others not only in the Capital Region but also in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Long Island, New York City, Rhode Island and Connecticut and at various casinos. And it made money on all but three of those shows, which cannot be easy given the limited fan base for traditional boxing.
I can testify that she and her partner, Paul Brown, reinvigorated local boxing with their efforts and gave local fighters a greater opportunity to perform on their own turf rather than truck to another state and fight out of the blue corner, as it’s known.
I hope they continue in business. They do a great job.
As for my having blurted out that business about the careful choosing of opponents, well, it’s not so much that it was wrong, but, “It was bad manners to come out and say it,” she instructed me, and now I know. I have learned my lesson, and I am repentant. It’s sort of like an initiation.
“We are all one big dysfunctional happy family,” she told me, referring to the boxing community, “and now you are part of that family.”
It made me glow with pride, and I will do my best to live up to the honor, dysfunction and all.