Boxing

"Boxing Is Dying," Claims Joe Calzaghe, "It Is Hugely On The Up," Says Sugar Ray Leonard

18.12.08 - by James Slater - A few days back, unbeaten great Joe Calzaghe made a remark that a number of people didn't like. Stating that boxing was on the way down and very much a dying sport, "The Pride of Wales" said the sport that had made him rich and famous was in unstoppable decline. Obviously, many people, both fans and experts, strongly disagreed..

One person who refuses to go along with Calzaghe's statement is one of the sport's true legends, one who engaged in some of boxing's biggest-ever fights. He is the one and only Sugar Ray Leonard, and he couldn't disagree more with what the fighter he admires had to say.

Speaking in an article that appears in today's issue of The Daily Express newspaper, the former five-time world champion comments on how boxing is actually bigger than ever in many cases.

"When Manny Pacquiao recently went home to the Philippines there were hundreds of thousands of his fans there and if there was an election tomorrow for president he would probably win it," Sugar Ray said. "Just last year Ricky Hatton got nearly 60,000 for a fight in Manchester (Vs. Juan Lazcano) and Calzaghe 50,000 in Cardiff (Vs. Mikkell Kessler). In Germany there is no bigger sport other than football.

"It is hugely on the up. What has happened is that boxing's hot-spots have just shifted. Whereas for many decades it was America and in particular the east coast, then it moved to Las Vegas and now it is global. It is still big in the United States but it is big and getting bigger all the time on other parts of the world."

Leonard is absolutely spot on with what he says. Try telling the average Filipino the sport that has made a God out of his or her idol, in Manny Pacquiao, is all but dead! The same goes for the vast number of Klitschko fans in Germany and Ukraine. For Joe to have said what he did after himself having had three of his biggest and most-viewed fights is indeed strange. Also, look at the potentially huge fights 2009 already has on its agenda. Far from dying, the sport is in pretty good shape to say the least.

Leonard continued to argue just this in the Express article.

"There are some excellent match-ups all around and in the welterweight and light-welterweight divisions you have Floyd Mayweather coming back, Ricky Hatton, Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez," Sugar Ray stated. "The biggest division of them all, the heavyweights, needs some shaking up, but it will change. Someone will come along who hits harder than everyone else and they will become the next superstar, just like Mike Tyson did in the eighties."

Leonard did concede the fact that rival sports ARE attracting would-be fighters, but not to the extent that boxing is fast declining.

"It's simple, boxing is a tough, tough game," Leonard explained when asked why many kids now look for other sports. "Throwing a basketball is a lot easier and you don't get punched in the face doing it. That is not to say boxing is on the slide because there is massive interest in the big fights."

Damn right there is. Just look at how big Pacquiao-De La Hoya was, and how quickly it sold out. And think how quickly either Pacquiao-Hatton or Pacquiao-Mayweather would also shift tickets. Boxing is dying? No way!

Article posted on 18.12.2008



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