Fighter's Corner: State Of The Game Address

26.03.07 - by Michael Demmie, My Fellow Fight Fans, We have been hearing a lot of talk on various blogs and websites concerning the current state of the boxing game. Negative remarks on how the business side of things is bringing the game down, how the current state of the heavyweight division is drying out boxing as a whole and how boxing being taken off of network TV is causing the popularity of the sport to suffer dramatically..

We have heard the cries from fans and journalists alike who long for the days when boxing had personalities such as Jack Johnson, Muhammad Ali, “Sugar” Ray Leonard, and Mike Tyson at the forefront of the sport, and we see the constant criticism of our current top-level fighters for being unwilling to fight top competition. Yes, promoters would do justice to the sport and its fans by creating great match-ups, and not safe “displays”. Yes, the powers that be can bring the popularity back to where it should be by bringing the sport back to the networks. Yes, our heavyweight division would return to status as the torch-bearers of the sports world by not coming into the ring like Sumo Wrestlers, but in proper boxing shape and form. And yes, boxing as a whole needs fresh, young charismatic personalities, who are talented and willing to fight the best in order to draw that fan base back to the sport. Yes, these are all known facts. But, I am here, not to re-iterate the negatives, but to tell you that there is a silver lining to this dark cloud that threatens to overtake our sport. This silver lining, I will sum up in one word: 2007!

Fight fans, let me start off by saluting the fighters who put it all on the line to give us great match-ups, such as Sam Peter and James Toney, Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez, Rafeal Marquez and Israel Vasquez, Edison Miranda and Allan Green, Shane Mosley and Luis Collazo, O’neil Bell and Jean-Marc Mormeck, Chad Dawson and Tomasz Adamek. Let us all salute the fighters who have agreed to take on tough matches this year, such as Miguel Cotto and Zab Judah, Antonio Margarito (who gets a double salute for fighting Clottey) and Paul Williams, Mikkel Kessler and Librado Andrade, Edison Miranda and Kelly Pavlik, Ricky Hatton and Jose Luis Castillo, Diego Corrales and Joshua Clottey. It is true that we have been fed pointless match-ups such as Wladimir Klitschko vs. Ray Austin, Sultan Ibragimov vs. Javier Mora, and, yes, there are more to come, like Joe Calzaghe vs. Peter Manfredo. But, so what! The silver lining that is 2007 is filled with more great match-ups than there have been in a very long time. And of course, to top it all off, we have the biggest event in recent boxing history happening this year, “The World Awaits”, De La Hoya vs. Mayweather Jr. The biggest personality in the game against the pound for pound king of the ring. Say what you will about this match-up, but it is drawing huge numbers and could produce a huge leap in the popularity of our beloved sport.

We have up-and-comers to the sport who are hungry and willing to test their abilities, such as Andre Berto, Kelly Pavlik, Manuel Lopez, The Peterson Brothers, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., Edison Miranda, Paul Malignaggi, and Paul Williams. We have new blood, and not so new, who are holding titles such as Miguel Cotto, Chad Dawson, Travis Simms, and Julio Diaz. We have the greatest and most exciting brother duo holding titles, the Marquez brothers. Of course, we have our established stars that are showing promise this year, like Floyd Mayweather Jr., “Sugar” Shane Mosley and that human cherry bomb Manny Pacquiaou, just to name a few. Return stars with huge potential like Paul Spadafora, Lamon Brewster, and Zab Judah could really make some noise and shake up their respective divisions.

Who is not looking forward to the potential match-ups that could be produced in 2007? Like the winner of Cotto/Judah going up against the winner of Margarito/Williams. Mayweather possibly fighting Mosley or Hatton. The winner of Miranda/Pavlik fighting Jermain Taylor. True, we don’t have the personalities of Ali and Leonard ruling the airwaves, but we do have the Mayweathers, who never lack controversy, comedy and drama, Hopkins who is the old man still sticking it to the establishment, and kicking around the younguns, and newbie’s like Jason Litzau, who, if he can bounce back from his first loss, will bring spice, spunk and defiance to the game. Oh the many possibilities for 2007!

Yes, Jorge Arce should fight Vic Darchinyan, Calzghe should fight Kessler, and there should be heavyweight unification bouts. But, let’s take a break from looking at what should happen, and look at what is happening. Mayweather is fighting De La Hoya! Hatton is fighting Castillo! Margarito is fighting Williams! Corrales is fighting Clottey! Cotto is fighting Judah (if/when Judah gets past his next opponent). And it’s all happening this year, in 2007!

And the drama! Can Floyd Mayweather Sr. co-exist with his brother Roger? How many Mayweathers will be in Floyd Jr’s corner on May 5th? Have you heard the comments that Floyd Sr. has been throwing at De La Hoya and trainer Freddie Roach? And don’t get it confused, Master Mayweather comes after all of the top trainers! Who will win the tug of war between Golden Boy and Top Rank? Where will Pacquiaou end up? Is he really suing Golden Boy? Yes, this is all drama and controversy, but controversy breeds popularity. And who was more controversial, right or wrong, in the history of our sport than the most popular figure in the history of boxing, Muhammad Ali?

In closing, friends, I urge you to ignore the negativity that is surrounding our good sport, and look closely at the positive. Regardless of what you read, boxing is not yet dead. In fact, it is alive and could potentially become a thriving sport once again, and 2007 is the year that could prove it!

Thank you for listening, and may God bless the sport of boxing.

Article posted on 27.03.2007

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