Itís A Good Time To Be A Boxing Fan

29.10.07 - By Matthew Hurley: Itís a good time to be a sports fan in New England. The Patriots loom so large over the NFL landscape that their shadow engulfs teams like the Washington Redskins who they beat yesterday 52-7. Not only are they firing on all cylinders but theyíre playing with a chip on their collective shoulder after the ďspy-gateĒ controversy at the beginning of the season. Didnít teams like the Jets know that jabbing a sleeping lion with a stick only makes it meaner? Then thereís Boston College, now ranked number 2 in the country and reminding locals of the glory days of Doug Flutie and Gerard Phelan in 1984.. The Celtics have crept out of their malaise and put together a dynamic front court and my beloved Red Sox are champions once again. How in the world could it get better for a Boston sports writer?

Well, boxing, this writerís absolute passion, stepped up to the plate as the year winds down and has deluged fans with one great match up after another. Whether itís lesser lights like Humberto Soto Ė Joan Guzman, or klieg lights like Cotto-Mosley, boxing is alive and kicking. Donít let any no-nothing newspaper columnist tell you different. They just arenít paying attention. Would the editors of major newspapers send reporters out to cover major boxing events like next Saturdayís super middleweight unification bout between Joe Calzaghe and Mikkel Kessler maybe boxing wouldnít be so marginalized in the sports section.

Things are certainly not as they were when boxers like Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield were knocking each other around in the eighties and nineties. (Donít get me started on Evanderís endless career). But as much as I wish that boxing commanded the spotlight as it did when I was growing up it has become something of a sport for connoissuers. If youíre a fight fan you follow it with a passion and thereís nothing better than hunkering down on a bar stool, knocking a few back and suddenly finding yourself in a conversation with the Jake next to you about whether or not Jermain Taylor has any chance against Kelly Pavlik in their rematch. Itís because fight fans are an exclusive club and its members are passionate, volatile, vocal and loyal. We have to be, because, at least according to the main stream media, we are a very small group. That misconception never ceases to amaze me, particularly when Iím in those bars and guys Iíve never met before want to talk boxing with me, but I hear it all the time.

Which leads me to the Calzaghe-Kessler fight. I have been intrigued by this bout from day one. I think itís a perfect match up of a wily veteran still at or a bit past his prime going up against a rising star who is fast approaching his prime. Kessler will have to hit that apex in order to beat Calzaghe and Joe will have to sustain his level of excellence to turn back the big Daneís challenge. That to me says unequivocally, ďGreat FightĒ. But the fight itself is only part of the fun. Itís the anticipation going in that pumps up its stock and this fight has fans of both fighters bickering back and forth. With only five days and some odd hours to go before the opening bell Iím still not ready to make my pick. Iím really on the fence about this one for two reasons. One, these two fighters are evenly matched in my estimation and two, Iím a fan of both of them. The best thing that could happen would be for Calzaghe and Kessler to rise above the anticipation and give fans a remarkable show. Itís happened many times before and I think it will happen in this bout.

So as I bask in the glow of another Red Sox championship and prepare for the lunacy that will envelop Beantown when the requisite parade trudges down the city streets Iím also clenching my fists in anticipation of, arguably, the most important fight to take place at 168 pounds. Oh, and then the following Saturday Sugar Shane Mosely takes on Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden. What a time to be a boxing fan.

Article posted on 29.10.2007

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