Is Boxing Ready To Come In From The Cold?

08.06.05 - By Marcus Wood: One thing surprised me about Hatton - Tzsyu and it wasnít Hattonís win. Well it did surprise me but what got me the most was how much mainstream coverage, in England anyway, went to the build up and aftermath. In the days leading up to it news programs followed Hattonís training and newspapers reviewed his career making a point of how much of an underdog he was. Coverage went to a new level after the fight with the result being mentioned before any football news and Hatton appearing on the front of the sports pages.

To establish what this actually means to anyone living in a country with more than one sport, I remember the result of Lennox Lewis- Mike Tyson coming after all football news on TV and Lewis was stuffed into a corner of the front of the sports pages usually reserved for Rugby, even if it was the biggest grossing bout of all time. In England in one calendar year 95% of the sports pages are football, club or country regardless weather it is actually football season, since the World Cup win Rugby gets 4% and Cricket 1%.

The point Iím trying to make here is that, again at least in England, Boxing is reclaiming its rightful place in mainstream sport and to be honest it felt good seeing boxing in the papers again without the words Ďdisgracefulí or Ďembarrassmentí hanging over it. And with the pro debut of media favourite Amir Khan, a possible Roy Jones Jr- Clinton Woods and the American careers of Carl Froch and Junior Witter still to come, boxing may be on itís way up in England. And all importantly history seems to say when boxing is up in the U.K itís up in America. That theory seems to be coming true here as well as early reports are beginning to say ppv buys were good for Hatton- Tzsyu and it appears America wants more Hatton.

It seems an age ago when Ali-Frazier I shut down New York City and Ali-Foreman became the biggest sports story in years. Notice anything about that sentence? They were both Muhammad Ali fights. Ali and his era were the last time boxing was at the forefront of mainstream sport. From his title victory of Liston to his mega fight with Frazier to his end against Holmes, boxing eclipsed everything else the world over.

Ali was the greatest personality sport has ever had and was made twice as famous because of his dispute with the US government, something far bigger than sport. Before Ali boxing really didnít have competition which is why it dominated the air waves and print. Basketball was in its infancy, American Football wasnít yet the behemoth it is today and Ice Hockey was for Canada. Boxing however had Jack Dempsey, Jack Johnson, Joe Louis and other heroes and villains that kept boxing entertaining. After the team sports began getting organised, more stars were born and television became the mass medium boxing began slipping. But then the hero Ali came with an incredibly entertaining supporting cast to battle against.

Liston, Frazier, Foreman, Patterson, Terrell, Quarry, Ellis, Norton, Wepner, Spinks. After Ali and co. it plunged, the all conquering Larry Holmes may have been Aliís successor in the ring but wasnít half the personality. On top of that Holmes had no supporting cast as he just rolled over everyone in sight including remnants of Aliís era. Despite Sugar Ray Leonard prolonging boxings down turn, it had no personality up until Mike Tyson.

Tyson wasnít great the way Ali was but his bouts were stupidly exciting. And like Ali he brought a supporting cast of Holyfield, Lewis, Bowe and the lighter weights came into their own with De La Hoya, Toney, Jones Jr., Eubank and Benn. But the top fighters never clashed as the biggest fights in the heavyweight division were never made before Tysonís arrest. Lewis was kept away from Holyfield and Tyson until it was too late and Jones Jr. squashed everyone and never fought Benn or Eubank.

Thus boxing hit rock bottom with the infamous ear biting incident and never got back up. It just became one big blur of press conference fights and fighters cursing at each other until blue in the face. Change may be around the corner especially if the Heavyweight division can re-establish itself by some miracle. Time will tell.

Article posted on 08.06.2005

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