Message to the Boxing Gods

By Raymond Markarian: Message to the Boxing Gods: Boxing, we love you, but miss the heavyweight division. The good heavyweights out there desire to be recognized. Force us to discover. Heavyweight boxing needs this but so do we. Give us a hero that destroys Goliath and becomes our Odyssey. Clean up the vortex in the heavyweight division and find us a conqueror. Please be righteous and think about the fans. We wish for heavyweight combat but need a reason. Provide a champion that leaves us no doubt. Give us an answer at your earliest convenience….

The Boxing Gods have spoken: The heavyweight division is a mess. Boxing fans know this fact but hide their feelings. The rest of the sporting world views the fight game with an uncertain eye. Boxing is dead. That is the common philosophy. But how can that be?

If boxing is lifeless then fight fans have drawn a blank. Today, we are in the midst of a boxing renaissance. For the most part, fans have been getting the fights that they have wanted to see. The pupils of the sport like Kelly Pavlik are becoming stars. And the stars like Miguel Cotto are slowly turning into legends. However there is one thing that is being overlooked in this new regime, a marquee heavyweight fight.

The Boxing Gods know this but recognize the past. To appreciate heavyweight history we must look back to the future. As early as ten years ago, heavyweight boxing was an imperious fanatical attraction. In June 1997, the Mike Tyson versus Evander Holyfield rematch was a record breaking financial success. Mike Tyson versus Evander Holyfield II was a forgettable fight but a memorable story. In short, Tyson bit off Holyfield’s ear. The event is horrible but memorable.

Unfortunately today’s heavyweight division does not have many household heavyweight names to argue about. The detractors harmonize the idea that Mike Tyson’s downfall and Lennox Lewis’ retirement ended the popularity of boxing glamour division over four years ago. Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis are long gone. But they are not the reason the heavyweight division is lacking a punch. The truth is Mike Tyson did not mystify us because he was short and mean looking. We were attracted to his scraps because of his unpredictability.

That is the idea. The heavyweight division needs a story. The current heavyweight division is to boxing what the regular season is to the college basketball. It almost does not seem matter. There has been almost five years since we have had a marketable heavyweight championship fight. (June of 2003 when Lennox Lewis defeated Vitali Klitschko)

Today, the true heavyweight fans speak of the division with a sense of temporary amnesia. The heavyweight argument normally consists of mythical encounters between a prime Mike Tyson against Muhammad Ali or Rocky Marciano versus Joe Frazier. Where is the love for current heavyweight boxing? ….

Message to the Boxing Gods: You speak the truth. But it feels misguided. Forget the has-beens and disregard recent heavyweight history. Forget the post ear-biting Mike Tyson. Forget the Lennox Lewis vs. Evander Holyfield unification bouts. Forget the rematch that never was between Lennox Lewis and Vitali Klitschko and forget the mandatory title defenses Wladimir Klitschko continues to make.

Let’s continue to stress the amnesia. But search for solutions. Flush out the old champions and hunt for a new one. Boxing needs a Contender style tournament in the heavyweight division. Sports fans are attracted to feel good stories. The Contender program on ESPN is full of them.

A heavyweight version of the Contender would create a focal point for fight fans to discover new talent in the glamour division. The good thing about the show is that it emphasizes on creating excitement. Practically every episode ends in a boxing match and the producers of the show do a good job of exhibiting the significant segments of the fights. Creating controversy is the key. Exciting fights generate a love for exciting fighters. Develop a list of about six to eight heavyweight “contenders” and have them battle.

This blueprint is used by NCAA basketball. The NCAA holds a national basketball tournament of sixty four teams that battle it out in a winner take all scuffle. An upset or Cinderella story seems to occur every season. College basketball fans get enthused to watch an underdog try to dethrone a sleeping giant. It is fun to watch and it generates commotion.

How many people knew about George Mason University until they made the final four? Not too many. But the media did enough stories on them for the fans to recognize their accomplishments. Boxing should use this formula for the heavyweight division. If the Boxing Gods desire a heavyweight resurrection then shove it down our throats. Force fight fans to watch the aspiring prospects battle it out to be recognized.

Storylines will create. Sports fans will learn about the heavyweight fighters’ family backgrounds and upbringing. But more importantly, the exposures of a Contender/NCAA style tournament will help fight fans develop personal associations with unknown boxers. This is what boxing is missing. The Gods of Boxing have spoken….. But so have the fans….

Message to the Boxing Gods: Your wisdom brings pleasure. Show us the way to heavyweight resurrection. Bring us a heavyweight champion of valor that is willing to take on all comers. Our love for boxing will not falter. We hope this message reaches you…

Any questions or comments email Raymond.

Article posted on 16.11.2007

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