Boxing: American heavyweights canít win. So what?
By Jason Peck: Iím an American. But I donít resent Soviet domination of the heavyweight division over the Americans fighters, I don't root for American heavyweights because of the nationality, and I donít understand why I should. Quite the contrary Ė I respect the hell out of the Eastern European heavyweights..
Article posted on 08.02.2008
Itís no wonder they clean up; theyíve got heads on their shoulders, and serious discipline. Prince Naseem Hamed could have taken a lesson from their lifestyles Ė no flash and bling, no Puff Daddy and club scene, no BS.
American heavyweight Eddie Chambers recently lost by unanimous decision to Slavic fighter Alexander Povetkin. That development upset quite a few American boxing fans; another Great Hope bites the dust.
Quite frankly, the situation canít get worse. Soviet fighters hold every one of the major heavyweight titles; Kazakhstan-born IBF champ Wladimir Klitschko has lately made a career of destroying Americans, with four consecutive knockout victories over Chris Byrd, Calvin Brock, Ray Austin and Lamon Brewster.
But donít worry Ė thereís always John Ruiz and Chris Arreola to save the day.
The problem is, I donít worry. I donít need an American champion, and I donít understand I should support someone because we happened to be born in the same country. Itís not either of us had any say in the matter. And for the record, I never rooted for John Ruiz. I won't start now.
I grew up outside of Pittsburgh; therefore, I was supposed to root for the Pirates. Never mine what the teamís actually doing Ė whether it be winning, losing or complaining about their million-dollar contracts. My team loyalties were cemented at birth, much like my astrological sign. Thatís one of the big reasons why I donít follow team sports.
To hell with that mentality. Suppose for a minute that the team in question is made of whiners who waste time with contracts and endorsements, rather than the field. Why the hell do they deserve my unconditional loyalty, like Iím a dog or something?
I like athletes with heart and dedication. When a guy doesnít cut the mustard, when he puts paycheck over performance, I donít understand why I should root for him. I rooted for Marco Antonio Barerra throughout his entire career. Thatís because when you get right down to it, the fight mattered more to him than anything else.
Do I need an American champion? It would be nice, I think. But boxing is a different kind of sport. Most of my favorite fighters werenít born in the United States. Hell, I usually root against the Americans they fight.
I like fighters with guts. I like Mexican fighters, their heart, their conviction, their willingness to fight at the drop of a sombrero. Coincidentally, I rooted for Mexico City-born Barrera in his victory over Texas-born Rocky Juarez. They fought a second time, but my allegiance never changed.
On another note, I root for Jamaican-born Glen Johnson to beat American Chad Dawson. Johnson never ducked anyone, and sure as hell never hand his career scripted by promoters and handed to him on a silver platter. Instead, he earned his shot the hard way, suffered ups and downs, and took them all like a man.
Forget countries. How can you NOT root for this guy?
American Paul Malinaggi, the Brooklyn-born ďMagic ManĒ recently defended his world title. A lot of people like him, but his Roy Jones-esque showoff tactics and big mouth personally irritate me. I didnít like the real Roy Jones Jr. either, for the same reason. I liked Antonio Tarver for awhile, but I feel that he chased paychecks more than credible opponents. Him being American never mattered to me. In fact, Iím rooting for Sheffield-born Clinton Woods to beat him; he gets my support in much the same way Johnson does.
On the other hand, I loved Diego Corrales. That guy never quit, and always showed up ready to fight. I had watched him several times before I found out he was an American. Diego earned that respect, he wasnít born into it.
The title fight between Hasim Rahman and Oleg Maskaev still sticks in my head. For some reason I was supposed to stand in line behind American-born Hasim Rahman, the ďlast line of defenseĒ between the American heavyweight title, and complete domination by those godless Slavic brutes.
The notion was, of course, ridiculous. Maskaev was an American citizen. And promoters who dreamed up the stupid tag line would no doubt promote a foreigner with the potential to clean up the heavyweight division.
So much for patriotism.
Come on, the Cold Warís over. Warm up to the Eastern Europeans, and maybe theyíll fight in Vegas where we can actually watch them.
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