Where has boxing gone?
The sport of professional boxing is slowly trying to work its way back into the hearts and minds of the American public, but every time it takes one step forward, it inflicts a wound on itself and takes two steps back. There have been glaring examples of this happening:
On July 9th of this year Erislandy Lara clearly beat Paul Williams only to have it stolen from him by the judges. Those judges were quickly suspended but the damage had already been done. The casual fan left with a bad taste in their mouth thinking boxing and the politics involved, have not changed at all. Here was a great opportunity to promote a win by a good young promising fighter, instead there is a stain on his record that should not be there.
Two weeks later on July 23rd, boxing gets it right. It promotes an exciting young boxer, Amir Khan who does not disappoint with a fifth round knockout of Zab Judah. And even this was not the fight people wanted to see. By all rights, Amir Khan should have fought Timothy Bradley Jr. But that fight didn’t happen for several reasons. One being, in my opinion, Bradley Jr. is scared to fight Khan. Khan has one more fight then he’s ready for the big lights. Either Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao.
Then just as everyone is feeling good about boxing again, boxing self inflicts a wound on Saturday night in Las Vegas. In a fight where Abner Mares repeatedly hit Joseph Agbeko below the belt, he was never penalized one point by referee Russell Mora. Mora counted a low blow as a knockdown and after being showed the replay still refused to admit that he made a mistake. Decision goes to Mares along with Agbeko IBF title.
And the cherry on the cake is still Mayweather and Pacquiao have not scheduled a fight. They have fought everyone except each other. The one fight that everyone wants to see and the one fight that could go a long way in bringing electricity back into the sport is not happening for several reasons. One being Mayweather is flat out running from Pacquiao.
Fighters today have to realize that boxers of the past like Sugar Ray Leonard didn’t duck or dodge. They fought all contenders because they understood to be the best and to be regarded as one of the best in history you had to show you were the Alpha male at all times. Between February 1977 and February 1982 Sugar fought 33 times. That is unheard of in this day and age.
That is part of the reason boxing has struggled. In the days of You Tube, Twitter and Facebook, fans like instant gratification. The MMA has taken off. Why, it’s incredibly exciting and fighters fight. There are not 18 month layoffs or haggling over “this fighter is promoted by this promoter and on this network”. Things are centralized and good things happen. Boxing has too many federations and too many weight classes. This makes it hard to follow. And until the light switch comes on in whoever mind it needs to come in on, the beautiful sport of boxing will not recapture the heart of Americans.