By Paul Smith Jr @PaulSmithJnr
Transcribed By Lewis Calvert @BigWriteHook
Paul Smith Jr. is a retired professional boxer who has won the English middleweight title, twice won the British super-middleweight title and is a three time super-middleweight World title challenger – though he arguably should have won a World title after a 12 round decision loss to Arthur Abraham, in which many people (including me) believe Smith to have been robbed.
Smith has shared the ring with several top level fighters, including one of the most highly regarded pound-for-pound boxers in modern times, Andre Ward, but was pulled out of the fight in the 9th round.
Smith currently works a Sky Sports as a boxing analyst and commentator, among other things.
He has publically aired his criticisms about boxing podcasts on social media, so in this Head2Head we would like to show two sides to the debate.
Below are direct quotes takes from Smith’s Twitter account, some of which will have been slightly amended for readability and continuity purposes only.
The thread began with a tweet from Smith:
“Listened to the @joerogan podcast with @elonmusk – got to say the first film podcast I’ve ever listened to they usually bore me to death. I wanted more of this. What a ridiculously intelligent man. Full of ideas. Loved the drink and smoke too – normal fella like the rest of us.
I don’t do podcasts. I’m gonna download his though. Best two and a half hours (sleep aside) I’ve spent in a long time. Brilliant listening.”
Somebody then suggested:
“Listen to @NewAgeBoxingUK podcast, always had good things to say about you.”
To which Smith responded:
“That’s the thing, all jokes aside why would anybody listen to it? Who are they? Which one has been in a ring for me to actually WANT to listen to their opinion? Not one of them can tell me what any fighter they talk about is going through.”
Smith went on to explain and expand his opinion in a series of responses to fans:
“I’m a busy fella, why do I waste an hour of my time listening to their podcast, again, who are they and why would anyone at all want their opinion on boxing? What have they done or achieved in the sport to warrant it? Genuine question.
Why should I listen to Joey from Motherwell who got into boxing when AJ won gold? That’s my question. No one can answer it.
If I want fan’s opinion I speak to them at shows or the odd genuine fan on here. Why on earth would I want to listen to a podcast?
Steve Bunce has boxed and then has worked in boxing since his late teens (I imagine) so his opinion, to me and others, will obviously carry more weight than some kid doing a podcast in his mother’s back room because he got into boxing after watching Creed.
I saw a great photo of Buncey with his nose full of claret in a Fitzroy lodge vest (may have been Fisher) and a big curly head of hair. He’s mad on boxing still to this day.
As a podcast newbie or whatever you call it, I’ve got a choice of people to listen to. I’m gonna listen to people who I believe KNOW the subject, over fans of it any day. Rather listen to a director of a movie than a fan of a movie.
If I’m talking football in a room with Jamie Carragher or any other pro I know and he tells me how something is… I be quiet and say “ok” – because it must be. Because HE’S been there!
If someone is trying to tell me how a fighter does something technically or how he will be feeling in there then I’d believe it from someone who’d done it. That’s all. I’d personally prefer experience over books.
Why Should I Listen to Their Opinion
You may know something but in his mind you’ve never done it, so how can you tell HIM about it when he has. Surely you see his point? You’re telling him, sometimes ridiculously, what’s happening, when he KNOWS it’s not – you can see why it’s frustrating. Doesn’t happen in other sport
I’m obsessed with music. I can’t play an instrument. I love it. I wouldn’t sit with musicians I admire and tell them about music or that they’re doing it wrong.
You need wall building are you gonna prefer a bricklayer with 20+ years experience or a kid who’s watched tutorials on YouTube for 5 years?
I never had a chiselled body and was a pro for 15 years. Why should I listen to their opinion or have to take it on board when most of the time it’s nonsense. Why would I listen to a podcast from a few fellas, no one knows, talking about something they can’t do?
I can’t tell a chef how to cook my food better. I can’t tell an actor how method acting works. I can’t tell a doctor how to do a procedure, no.
Yet no one ever enters the kitchen and tell the chef his technique on the soufflé was off and his temperature was too low. Getting fellas on here telling pros how he should move to his right and check left hook ffs. Opinion on what you see is fine.
Everyone has an opinion, just don’t expect anyone remotely connected to the boxing industry to listen to a podcast by 4 fellas, never threw a punch in their lives and got into boxing when Twitter started.
As a boxer, to listen to someone who knows nothing of the sport tell me how the sport works, is hysterical. And it’s the only sport where it happens.
[My words get] twisted to ‘you have to have boxed to have an opinion’ – easy way out the argument. It’s not that, my point is I love football. Never played remotely a decent level so if a pro talks, I listen. Boxing is different. A pro talks, they disagree.”
The context of these tweets of paramount importance to us at Big Write Hook. We believe we have done our best to portray Smith in the most accurate manner possible and it is worth noting as a reader, Smith did not construct these points as a basis for a formal debate, but merely in a response to several boxing fans (including some insults from trolls) on Twitter. However, we thought it would be interesting to explore the opinion of a podcaster, who, it is also worth noting, does have the advantage of time to construct their points as a solid a rebuttal.
So for the purpose of debate, allow somebody to disagree…
By Michael Prime @LFCPrime
Being a person that uses Twitter regularly, I didn’t see the tweets put out by Paul as, typically, we are blocked from viewing his tweets.
I think we had the sheer audacity to ask whether the decision to fight Andre Ward, without any apparent intention of making the agreed weight limit, was intentional.
Having read them after the event as you can imagine, I, as a boxing podcaster disagree profusely. There are several boxers that chuck out the old adage of… “If you haven’t boxed, you can’t comment”.
I take that on board and respectfully disagree, there are a long list of things in my life I’m not qualified to do, that I have never done but can have my own thoughts on.
I, like Paul, am a huge Liverpool fan. Now I have never l played nor managed at the top end of the game, but like Paul, I also happily share my opinions on matters I feel worthy at the time, whether that be on TV, Podcasts, Twitter, it doesn’t really matter. It’s the same principle
When you actually read the tweets, the sheer ignorance and arrogance is astounding. NewAge Podcast for example is a fantastic pod’ with a member of the team having boxed and still coaching at the gym he actually references in his statements. They have built a fanbase of their own and put back into the sport, like ourselves and Fighttalk by shining a spotlight on fighters and events that wouldn’t necessarily get the limelight.
The ignorance of having never listened to a boxing podcast but stating you essentially know exactly what they are about is mind boggling. Several podcasts like my own are not technically minded at all. We don’t sit around talking about why a fighter shouldn’t pivot a particular way or what a fighter should be doing in certain situations, we discuss issues that as fans we have an interest in: upcoming fights, politics from the outside, up and coming talent.
Beyond The Ropes is growing in popularity along with several other boxing podcast (NewAge Boxing, Fighttalk spring to mind) because we are usually having a conversation that we, and many fans, would be having anyway. The only difference being, we record it and allow other people to join our conversation at different stages and happily welcome the thoughts of others on the matters we discuss.
We Podcasters Get Little to Nothing Back For Our Efforts
The arrogance part, is feeling that no-one can offer anything of worth to him unless they have boxed. To show such contempt to people that effectively fund the sport (fans) is bizarre…The old response to ‘if you haven’t boxed…’ has often been to flip it back on the person calling it out.
When the staff at the airport that delayed his flight to see his brother’s fight in America, were subjected to him streaming and broadcasting his anger across his social media platforms, I’m sure he felt justified whilst using very colourful language. I would say because he has never worked in an airport, on a customer service desk, he should not be voicing an opinion on the matter and should sit there quietly, only talking about boxing.
But that would be crazy… wouldn’t it?
The main issue I have with boxers putting themselves in this position, is the obvious conflict of interests. We podcasters get little to nothing back for our efforts, yet continue to put our time, effort and money into the sport to try and do our part, no matter how small – often at expense to ourselves. But the conflict is real and something that leads people to podcasts.
We all sit and watch the boxing and see the commentators, former fighters, coaches etc. that, let’s not forget, are paid by the people who are putting on a show. Is Paul really going to stand there on TV and criticise the man that is paying him to work? Or slate his family’s performance. Personally, I don’t think so! We as podcasters don’t have this. We can speak openly and freely. That is what draws new listeners into our little world. Honesty, is something that gets lost at the top level of most industries and boxing is no different.
I get it. I wouldn’t go into my place of work and tell the paymaster, “you’ve made a really bad decision here” and neither will these guys. I think Paul wouldn’t listen to a podcast as he, regardless of what he feels like, doesn’t really come across as a man open to the opinions of others.
Anyone that he converses with online who disagrees with him, he simply blocks and moves on. Which is perfectly acceptable. No one needs to be arguing all day everyday and I hear in real life he’s a gent and very nice guy.
I respect his opinion on the matter as a person that’s has been there and done most of it, but it’s not the be all and end all, just because he has laced up more than most.
To say it’s the only sport this happens in in nonsense, It happens in all sports and in most walks of life, his Carragher reference even shows this.
The assumption that all people do is criticise is further evidence of my summary below.
On the subject of podcasts, my final thoughts would be that unless he has ever made or partaken in a podcast then he should keep his opinion to himself.
If I want advice I will go and ask people that do it at the top level.
And like any podcaster, no one has to listen to or agree with me, but I’ll always be here to say it.