“He hits hard for a little guy”: the dumbest “expert” view ever

by Jason Peck: Made-for-TV events like De La Hoya-Mayweather have produced scores of mainstream boxing fans who think they know jack about pugilism. You know – the kind of guy who knows three heavyweights by name, but doesn’t let that stop him? Never mind that, THIS is the dumbest thing they could say..

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard some would-be boxing “expert” dismiss the lighter weight divisions, mostly by saying that anything smaller than a heavyweight can’t hit. The world would be a better place if everyone who wrote “hits hard for a little guy” got his ass kicked by one of them. Except for me, of course.

After all, America is the country where the term “lightweight” is synonymous with mediocrity. The “lightweight” at a party is the wimp who passes out early. Hell, even respected sports announcers (that means you, Max) get away with the phrase “hits hard for a little guy.”

Can anyone pack a punch AND weigh less than 200 pounds? Impossible!

The average numbskull might pick a bar fight with Michael Katsidis, Edwin Valero or Manny Pacquiao, but he’d suffer just the same. Take a look at the KO ratios of lighter champions and compare to the current heavyweights. In many cases, the little guys either exceed or surpass the heavies.

They just don’t get it: When we talk about power, it’s all relative to other men who punch people for a living. Cory Spinks was certainly feather-fisted, at least compared to Zab Judah. But if challenged on the street, I’m sure Spinks could finish the average shmuck. Many mainstream sports fans dismissed the apparently puny punches of Barrera and Morales in their third fight, but real fans knew those shots would finish a dozen “experts.”

If someone asked me to choose from taking a heavyweight or lightweight punch, I’d inevitably go with the heavyweight. That’s like choosing between a slow-moving sledgehammer and two hatchets hacking away at 100 mph. But what damn difference does it make? Either way they’re alerting my next of kin.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the best way to make boxing America’s most popular sport lies with the lighter divisions. After all, that’s where a most of the talent inevitably lies. It has nothing to do with an Oscar De La Hoya exhibition bout.

I read about boxing in other countries, and the sport seems much more popular there than in the States. I note another shocking fact – the foreign public is aware of divisions other than heavyweight. I can’t believe that’s mere coincidence.

In the UK, the appearance of an Amir Khan or a Ricky Hatton could turn the youth to boxing gyms, rather than inferior sports like MMA. But America has seen much more talented lightweights who never got noticed merely because they were lightweights.

This “bigger is better” mentality instead forces a fixation on the heavyweight division, essentially putting all of boxing’s eggs in a basket that a single division probably can’t fill. I hear a lot from promoters about how they’re in this game for love of the sport rather than a paycheck. It sounds good, but lets put it to the test.

All right – when a major featherweight bout rolls along, promote the hell out of it. Make it perfectly clear that these guys are elite fighters, that their styles lend themselves to a good scrap. Basically, I’m asking them to promote Vasquez-Marquez I through III like they should have.

Sure you’d lose some money in the short-term; the public is accustomed to dismissing men this light. But the more weight classes the public watches, the bigger the safety net when the heavyweight division tanks. In the long run, average Joe could turn his attention to other weight classes. That’s how fans stay interested.

For years now, I’ve developed plans for a TV show, where we round up every 200 lb-plus meathead who scoffs at the little guys. Then we put their stupid asses in the ring with a flyweight, and watch them get gutted.

Hell, I’ve heard of Jorge Arce’s reputation in Mexico. He’d probably do it for free.

Article posted on 20.07.2008

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