A bizarre trend in recent Boxing
matches where one (or even both) of the participants enter the ring with a temporary tattoo on their back. So far, these have mainly been for online gambling
sites like GoldenPalace.com and SBG.com.
This trend became popular after the September 2001 fight between Bernard Hopkins and Felix Trinidad. Hopkins was paid $100,000.00 by GoldenPalace.com to enter the ring with its logo painted in black on his back. The logo quickly melted away during the fight, although back tattoo technology has improved greatly since then (Ben Tackie recently appeared with a very colorful one matching his African themed shorts that lasted all 12 rounds). Hopkins made the event even weirder by turning around and betting the $100,000.00 on himself to win against 3 to 1 odds. By winning this tremendous fight he almost made more on the bet than his actual purse.
Since then back tattoos have been showing up everywhere: HBO, Showtime and even ESPN2's Friday Night Fights. These stations and promoters quickly got annoyed at the idea of this "free advertising" though and the backlash began. The Arizona boxing commission tried to stop Clarence "Bones" Adams from entering his HBO fight against Paulie Ayala sporting one. They argued that they were demeaning, the ink could get into the eyes of the fighters and they were a "distraction" to the ref and judges. Arizona's Supreme Court ruled that Bones was allowed to wear it for "free speech" reasons though.
At first, you have to agree with the critics. Slapping ads onto people's flesh really does seem demeaning. It seems the ink may sometimes really be dangerous too. In his fight against Hector Camacho, Jr., Argentina's Omar Weis wore a large SBG.com tattoo. Two months later he appeared on ESPN2 in another fight with a welt on his back so red that you could still clearly read the tattoo. The skin on his back was also raised 1/2" or so making it look like red puff paint.
On the other hand, why is it so horrible that the boxer gets paid directly? Everything (The ring, ringposts, gloves, shorts, corners, etc.) else in Boxing is covered with ads that are sometimes much more dangerous. Many rings feature large logos in the middle (Miller High Life is very common)] that constantly cause Boxers to slip when they get wet. An even worse trend is putting "sideboards" around the bottom sides of the ring. Many boxers have tripped on these and some fights have been stopped because of injuries because of them. Yet the Arizona Boxing commission doesn't want back tattoos because they may be distracting?
For now the trend is starting to lose steam mainly because the promoters are banning them in their contracts. Everyone is waiting for some boxer out there to take the next crazy step: Permanent Back Tattoos.