Look let me first say this, I LOVE BOXING. To me the “Sweet Science” is one of the greatest sports in the history of mankind. Speaking from personal experience, there is no other feeling in the world like the feeling that overwhelms you the minute you step into the squared-circle. That feeling of nerves, that feeling of pride, that feeling of one-on-one, my will against yours, confidence/fear/excitement all rolled into one event. The moment you climb between the ropes is the moment in which you forget everything except the task at hand, and that is to punish your opponent… If anything else does pop in your mind it will literally be punched out of you.
Boxing is NOT dead. Boxing is very much alive when you think about Floyd “Money” Mayweather and the purse he brings home each fight…upwards of $50 million dollars. What is dead about the sport is its mainstream appeal and there are many different things that have contributed to this. The heavyweight division died in the late 90’s with the exit of “Iron” Mike & “Real Deal” Holyfield. Other games such as football now rule the television screens…boxing is no longer on network TV like it was in the past and the alphabet soup of belts & divisions brings no cohesion to the sport. Kids and athletes are turning to these other sports like football, basketball, soccer, hockey and baseball… hell “quidditch” is even a sport…allegedly. While watching the Pacquiao-Bradley bout this past weekend, a former NFL coach looked at me and said “how many 146 pound guys play (NFL) ball?” My response: “none, you’d get killed”. The heavyweight is gone…that it is a fact. In the Foreman, Frazier and Ali days they were the main event… 200+ pound heavyweight champions of the world that were the supreme athletic beings of the time.
In today’s Boxing world we rely on the “little” guys, 130 to 176 pound, lightening quick punchers who move smoothly across the canvas and throw a flurry of punches as if being shot out of a conveyor. The Mayweathers, Pacquiaos, Bradleys, Broners, Khans, Wards; those are the names that draw the celebrity infused crowds and BIG dollar payouts. There is only ONE heavyweight in ESPN’s Top 10 pound-for-pound rank (Wladimir Klitschko) and “Vlad” makes his opponents look like inexperienced kids out there.
Saturday night’s Pacquiao-Bradley bout, the rematch of a total sham in 2012 that gave the victory to Bradley, was a fun fight. From the opening bell these two were active and not a lot of time was spent “feeling the fight out” which is always fun for the fans. In fact, I actually had it all even through the first 4 rounds at 38-38. But then Pacquiao began to mix up his patented forward moving, right-hand leading, 1-2 combos all the while backing out and checking Bradley’s range. Bradley said after the fight he was going for the knockout, but he hasn’t knocked out anything since 2007, and “Pacman” no longer has his fierce combination of speed and devastating power (he’s just still really, really fast). It was a good fight for a belt that in the grand scheme of things means nothing, because Floyd doesn’t own that belt.
See the frustrating thing about today’s boxing is that this rematch between “Pacman” & “Desert Storm” didn’t need to happen. “Pacman” won the first fight but since the judges screwed that up, they obviously had to have a rematch. And now that Manny won fight #2, it’s only conceivable that these two men meet again to have the “rubber match”. So Bob Arum and Top Rank promotions win again. Three fights that people will watch, but mean nothing. Say what you want about that belt, the only thing worth fighting for in today’s game is Mayweather’s undefeated record. Bob Arum (I could write a book on my disgust for that man) said after the fight that the public spending money on “Money” and his next opponent Marcos Maidana and MGM hosting the fight is “nonsense”. Arum said “I don’t think Mayweather is bad for boxing…it’s bad for the public who will be talked to about spending money on nonsense. It’s bad for a property like MGM, which continues to peddle non-competitive matches”… So square up BOB, Floyd will bring in the viewers meaning he will demand a higher purse, but put “Pacman” in that ring with Floyd, because you should have done it SIX years ago! That is what the fans want, it’s long overdue, and that is why we are frustrated…
- Anthony Bellino