Laia Ali was on MSG the other night complaining that HBO had opted not to televise her fight with Shelly Burton as part of the undercard for Saturday night’s Wladimir Klitschko heavyweight title bout with Calvin Brock. The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman, hardly the sort to resist a chance to bash HBO, writes that Ali is “condmening the premium cable channel for not airing a mismatch.”
Ali will enter the ring at about 10:30p.m. tomorrow night. At 10:38 p.m., chances are Burton will be flat on her back looking up at the Garden’s famous ceiling. If this match were legitimate, and had any chance of being competitive, why was there no mention of Burton (not even a bio) in the press kit handed out Wednesday at a Garden news conference hyping tomorrow’s card?
Burton, 5-6, who turned pro in July 2003, is five inches shorter than Ali. According to Women Boxing Archive Network, Burton (8-2-1, 2 KOs) fights as a junior middleweight. She comes out of the ranks of “Tough Man (women’s division)” competitions. The majority of her professional victories have been over opponents with losing records. She has never fought at Ali’s weight.
It takes heart and guts for anyone to enter the ring, but when looking at Burton’s credentials, compared to Ali’s, only one conclusion can be drawn – there are none.
No one is paying attention to this. Whether it be writers, commentators, or boxing fans, all they see is the most famous name in women’s boxing, with one of the most famous names in sports, challenging a big cable network. They believe because her last name is Ali, and the possibility that her father will be watching at the Garden, HBO Sports suits should roll over and air the fight.
The fact Ali-Burton is really a lopsided exhibition, rather than a legitimate fight, does not figure in the equation. Those who rightfully rip HBO for airing men’s mismatches have refused to deal with this fact when it comes to Ali-Burton.