A Familiar Dialogue About Boxing

23.03.07 - By Justin Hackman: “What will it take?” He thought once again, as he had so many times before. “How can boxing revive itself? Would someone have to revive it, is it the elitist style of television coverage, is it the talent or lack thereof? That doesn’t make sense, the talent out there is just as good as it always has been,” he thought. “Physical talent grows exponentially with the times in every sport. Seaver versus Clemens, Maravich versus Jordan…Ray Robinson versus Jermain Taylor? Ali versus Klitschko? Maybe the talent does not get exponentially better in boxing.” The enigma continued to plague the mind of the young boxing fan.

Never failing to pursue the optimistic side of things, “While the early greats can only be compared to-scale with the current greats, as the ages cannot be duke it out figuratively in the same ring, wouldn’t Marciano have had a heck of a hard time defeating Lennox Lewis should they have met in current times? Not to say that Lennox is better by any means, but…why should I care? It’s not on me to prove to boxing skeptics that the sport is still worth watching. Not everyone has to agree with what I see and know as a fan.” The problem was that he knew if only people were exposed as they were once as recently as 15 years ago, they could understand its hidden, yet easily found beauty.

He could hear the voices of every turned-off fan: “In the old days, there was one champ, there was one belt, and everyone knew definitively who owned it, and he was the champ. Nowadays, with all the belts, and all the divisions, who can possibly know who the champ is, or ‘who the champs are’ is more like it.” These are more than valid points. “And the talent in the heavyweight division. Where have you gone Muhammed Ali, Mike Tyson, and Holyfield? I mean, these guys would have ran all over the guys who are out there today.” The skeptics know they have convincing arguments and would continue, “And they all would fight each other! The rivalries were exhilarating: Ali and Frazier, Hearns, Hagler, Leonard and Duran…they were great.”

He understood, yet felt frustrated at the lack of current knowledge but could not blame the once-avid fan. “But they do all fight each other today: Pacquiao, Marquez, Barrera, and Morales. They are our Leonards and Haglers of the present. And they have all fought each other with the exception of Morales and Marquez, but the amount of times the others have fought each other make up for it. You talk about rivalries? Morales has fought Barrera and Pacquiao three times a piece! Jermain Taylor has fought Bernard Hopkins twice, Winky Wright once, with the two professors due to fight each other this July, and with Jermain set to fight the winner of Miranda and Pavlik! If only people were aware of these rivalries they would become fans, I know they would!” He consistently pondered these dialogues and wondered what it would take for boxing to come back around again to the common fan.

He came to the conclusion that to be a boxing fan today takes effort—one that the common sports fan is not willing to give. The common fan is willing to turn on Sportscenter at the end of the workday; they are not however willing to go on the internet and read articles and see interviews as the only way to keep up with boxing on a day-to-day basis. While the masses are kept out, he knew this way the true hardcore fans are rewarded, as these outlets with cult-like followings certainly are able to cater to the dedicated fan.

But what of the future of boxing? “It could go one of two ways,” he thought. “Either boxing will crawl deeper into a cave of anonymity, or it could undergo a complete rejuvenation. The former is not likely,” the thought, ignoring his biased optimism, “because the natural progression of all things come full circle. Maybe the 60’s all the way through the 80’s was a golden age for boxing. And right now there is a counter-culture of sorts. The more time that passes, the more boxing will continue to define itself in current times, as opposed to being compared consistently with what ‘boxing used to be.’ Yeah, as soon as this generation stops with the self-defeating comparisons, along with a new future generation knowing Muhammed Ali as nothing more than a bedtime story, boxing can be great again by its own merit, not having to live up to the tired argument of one belt, old rivalries, etc.” He looked around the coffee shop as he took a breath.

“What are you up to this Saturday?” His friend inquired.

“Boxing, I’m uh…it’s a big boxing night.”

“Oh yeah? Hey, I heard Holyfield is still fighting. Any chance of him fighting Tyson again?”

On second thought, boxing may be dead. “What will it take? How can boxing revive itself?” He thought once again as he had so many times before…

Article posted on 23.03.2007

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