I had some computer problems recently. After weeks of stop-start connectivity, my laptop called it a day and I found myself staring at something called ‘a television’ with someone called ‘a wife’. It was terribly disorientating so I had to decide if it was time to visit the barman or the techie who lived down the lane and the latter would prove to be cheaper. A young guy with face fluff and mop-top set to work and, before I could say ten pints of Guinness my good man, new life was bestowed on my coffee stained computer and I was spared another trip to rehab. As I hadn’t accessed fight updates in nearly a week, I was eager to get all the news so you can understand my bitter disappointment when the first post I saw was Manny Pacquiao out cold following the JMM punch and an idiotic banner that read “What time is it? It’s Pacquiao O Clock”.
An entire week in the life of our planet had elapsed and the most up-to-date entry on the pages of history’s most complex social media forum was a 3yr old image that has been hammered to death by the Mayweather fanatics even though Floyd had absolutely nothing to do with it. No…Floyd’s forte lies in the assault of the fairer sex and he has the record to prove it. One thing I will say in defence of the Floyd faithful, they are consistent in their lack of moral fibre. Pacquiao fans, were they not too busy working and taking care of their responsibilities, might argue that Manny was easily winning the bout and simply walked on to a freak shot, that JMM’s absolute refusal to go again even for a $30M offer would be a sign that everyone n both camps know what happened that night and that a genuine beating comes in the form of a systematic 12 round dismantling not unlike Castillo’s clear victory over Mayweather in their first bout. But the judges saw that differently, as they did when De La Hoya beat Floyd and Maidana could easily have garnished a draw in the first bout. So why have do we have a scenario where little man Mayweather gets the nod regardless of how the wider world reacts.
Modern boxing…and I define that as the sport governed by Queensberry rules, underwent very few changes up to recent years. Yes, the training has changed and the profile has been raised, but the sport has existed on the blood and passion of men and, more recently women, who see it as their only honest means of survival. From the time Jack Johnson lifted the title and injected a magic into game, boxing has been the sport of survivors and that has changed little. As the decades progressed, the great fighters emerged largely from working class US neighbourhoods and this was even more prevalent in the bigger weight divisions. The truly legendary middleweights, Light Heavyweights and the really big men came from struggling backgrounds and their successes paved the way for young aspiring fighters to follow….and follow they did. Occasionally a challenge would come from across the water but the cornerstone titles could have had Uncle Sam branded onto them.
The lighter weights were usually contested between tough South American pugilists and the fighters of Philly, Chicago, Boston, New York and, of course, Detroit. I may be accused of doing a disservice to a number of great names and great cites in what I just said but I am describing what was perceived as ‘the norm’ in world boxing for many decades. Yes there were great European boxers over the years, several exceptional African fighters, numerous fine Canadians and Australians but, let’s be honest here, they were exceptions to the rule and they often marketed themselves on the fact that they didn’t hail from North or South America. The consequence of such dominance was reflected in the constant flow of exciting young talent that flooded US gyms and went on to excite audiences worldwide. But, when it counted, all it really translated to was the mighty dollar and the industry flourished under the supervision of unscrupulous promoters and casino owners. James Brown singing ‘Living in America’ during Rocky 4 really wrapped it all up.
But that’s all changed over the past few years. It began with the break-up of the Soviet states and we first got a flavour of what was to come when the Eastern Europeans broke the Cuban and US stranglehold in Olympic boxing. Even Stallone saw the writing on the wall and identified a new threat in the guise of Ivan Drago. Now, here we are several years down the line. The heavyweight division has been dominated by a Klitschko for many moons and the best of what’s coming through is from that region. Sure…I hear you scream Deontay Wilder’s name but I assure you that Alexander Povetkin would batter the guy and I suspect David Haye may return to give him a good old fashioned English thrashing…providing his toe holds out, Marco Huck is the Cruiserweight king and Kovalev reigns supreme at Light Heavyweight. Until Andre Ward re-establishes himself, Carl Froch is the Super Middleweight maestro and there are many many talented young fighters over here to take his place. GGG is unbeatable at middleweight and Canelo is the man at 154 as Floyd is reluctant to defend his Light Middleweight belt in case GGG moves down to kicks his ass. If we bypass 147 and look to Lightweight we have Provodnikov, Matthysse and Jessie Vargas and as we move down the weights we encounter two P4P contenders in Guillermo Rigondeaux and Roman Gonzales.
So what does this all mean and how does it affect May 2nd. Well, it would be a foolish pundit who would disagree that boxing is in decline. Long gone are the days when every American kid wanted to be champion of the world and movies like Rocky, The Champ and Somebody Up There Likes Me inspired a new generation of ring legends. Joe Frazier’s gym couldn’t be sustained and I truly believe that to be an outrage and a shame. But boxing is in decline because, like it or not, the sport needs new blood stateside. It needs the excitement and the glitz…it yearns for the heyday of Michael Buffer and the jitters of getting ready to rumble. I feel a certain sense of nostalgia when he stands in a Moscow ring to announce a local affair and the audience look upon him as a trinket from an old world. Remember the days when people referred to such places as ‘The old Country’….now America is The Old Country. Boxing has simply moved on and that’s just the way it is.
The powers that be in the controlling organisations and associations feel this acutely in their wallets and their bank accounts. There’s no money in the game anymore and the audiences are flocking to watch guys brutalize each other in cages. Boxing needs May 2nd….it needs the pomp and ceremony and it desperately needs this event to reignite the passion that almost seemed like a birth right for every kid that grew up on tough streets and dreamed of getting out. Boxing needs a hero. In all sport there is a milestone…the 4 minute mile, the 2hr barrier in the marathon, the land speed record and in boxing, its Marciano’s 49-0. It looked as if the brilliant Larry Holmes would do it, then it seemed that the shockingly overrated Nikolai Valuev might equal it…but it hasn’t been achieved….not after all these years and through all these golden era’s. Fighters have done better….Chavez SR was 89-0 with several titles but establishing a new record was not important back then and he continued. Right now, the Marciano record is even more important than it was when ‘The Brockton Blockbuster’ set it 60yrs ago this year. It needs to be broken to set new challenges and begin a new era in boxing and it must be an American if it’s going to, once again, attract a new breed of fighter from the west.
Floyd Mayweather JR was destined to be the new record holder from a long time back. He had all the credentials…American, respectful, courteous, super talented and charismatic. He was everything the ailing industry needed and, unless Castillo, De La Hoya and Maidana stopped him, he was always going to stay on track as planned. Floyds own father admitted after the De La Hoya fight that Oscar should have won, that interview is available on youtube, but it was NEVER going to happen. There is a reason why this guy is protected in and out of the ring.
Kenny Bayless and co have ensured that he is allowed fight HIS fight and I always laugh at the caption of Mayweather complaining to Bayless that the other guy “is trying to win the fight”. That he was spared jail time is outrageous and the governing bodies ‘whistling as I kick stones’ attitude to the open use of Xylocaine in the build up to a fight is enough reason to watch UFC in itself. I think he proved to be more controversial than they had hoped for and the ‘clean cut kid’ image went out the window with the respect, the courtesy and the sense of decency. But the powers that be created this monster and they are too far down the road to ditch him now.
I fully understand why the boxing industry went along with Floyd. As it goes, I’m one of those people that misses a ‘Real Deal’, a ‘Smokin’ Joe’, a ‘Marvellous Marvin’ etc and I want to see the James Brown ‘Living in America’ days back in big time boxing but they picked the wrong hombre to sell as a hero. Roman Gonzales will break 49 – 0 and, although he’s not American, it’s honest fighters like him who will sustain this sport we love and not filth like Floyd who flaunts a record that is steeped in corruption. The guy is 44-2-1, possibly 45-2-0 but I’m sure there will be those who will disagree….perhaps, unlike Floyd SR, they will feel he beat Oscar and that the only defeat was to Castillo but anyone suggesting he is undefeated and legitimately bidding to break Marciano’s record is simply the kind of person who spends their days thinking up new captions for the image of Pacquiao out cold.
If there is to be a fair fight on May 2nd…a bout unstained by a biased referee…with judges willing to call it as it is…then Manny Pacquiao will beat Floyd Mayweather and whatever becomes of the fight game will be determined by the billionaire boxing barons and their ability to remarket the sport. If there is a ‘Castillo’ mentality with the judges, then we could be looking at a dark night for boxing. That many journalists are freely admitting their concerns that Pacquiao will need two or three 10-8 rounds to have any chance of getting the decision is alarming.
But the man himself is brimming with confidence and there is an unwavering belief in the Manny Pacquiao camp that the judges will be left with no option but to, at the very least, attempt an honest analysis of the fight. I hope they’re correct. A decision like Castillo vs Mayweather 1 or Pacquiao vs Bradley 1 would only succeed in further damaging an already fractured sport and the biggest night in boxing history may just be a showcase for the shocking corruption that has plunged the game into disrepute. Were that to be the case, perhaps Fraud Mayweather JR is the ideal ambassador for such dishonesty. We can but hope.