Welcome to my nth, official rant about boxing. There’s sure to be more in the future so stay tuned.
I have a few, fellow bloggers, right around my age group (yes, THAT old) who regularly try to engage me in conversations about boxing. Perhaps they haven’t realized that train has left the station, or they’re just reminiscing about a time in our nation’s history when the sport actually mattered.
My responses to them run generally the same: a hint of disregard, sprinkled with a bit of apathy followed by the inevitable touch of nostalgia. For those of you who have just tuned in, I’d once again like to clarify my position on the sweet science.
I, as did those who inspired this post, grew up in an era where heavyweight bouts were major sporting events. Front page, big story news. The nation tuned in. Whether it was Ali in his waning years, Spinks, Foreman, Tyson, Holyfield, even Bowe and oh, what’s that British guy’s name again, we paid attention. We even paid per view.
Do you know what professional boxing would have to do to convince me to pay fifty dollars for a fight these days? They’d have to pay me sixty dollars. Or they could put ten or twelve boxers in a ring Vince McMahon-style and let them have at it. That can’t be any less safe than MMA.
Maybe it’s that I work weekends. Possible. Maybe there are no fights worth watching. Much more likely. Do you remember the last time you anticipated a boxing match? The last fight any of us talked about was one that never happened. And that’s only ONE of the problems in professional boxing. That’s why guys fight into their fifties and sixties, not because it’s the only living they’ve ever known or that they can’t give it up. It’s because they’re a bigger draw than any of the young fighters out there. Oh, I’m sorry. Did I just say young fighters? I assumed there were some.
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Whoever is in charge of marketing the science turned sour failed Intro to Marketing and whoever manages the sport (that’s funny) should be excused from his position and exiled by an act of Congress.
Professional boxing lacks structure. It lacks charisma. It lacks any meaningful, marketable athletes. Boxers are either old, washed up and brain dead or young, mouthy and brain dead. Muhammad Ali was mouthy and quite unpopular in his day but at least he stood for something. Ali made news by protesting a war he didn’t believe in. Floyd Mayweather makes news by having a $1000 bill cake with his image in the middle, the sorrowful decline of a sport’s significance.
Once upon a time, Olympians like Patterson, Clay, Spinks, Frazier, Foreman and Mercer raised the American flag with honor. Can you even name the last American male to win a gold medal in any weight class? I didn’t think so. FYI, it was Andre Ward in 2004 in the light heavyweight division.
I blame not the fans. If anything, it’s our unreciprocated interest that has kept the sport on life support.
Okay, I’m done now, not that I feel any better. To be perfectly honest, I’ve grown tired of this conversation just as the sport has grown tired of us. So please be careful the next time you mention boxing around me. You’ll be one of the remaining few to do so.