Cruelty of the Sweet Science: A Series

26.06.04 – By: Ja Lang G. – Boxing is cruel. It is a sport that shows no mercy towards the fighters, fans, and media that populate the sport. There isn’t any need for a 16, 82, or 162 game season to crown a champion. One night. Twelve rounds. The sweet science has no sympathy for past champions who failed to walk away at the height of their success. The images are clearly etched in the minds of fight fans. Sugar Ray Leonard being stopped by Hector Camacho Sr., Muhammed Ali being battered mercilessly against the ropes by Larry Holmes, Evander Holyfield thoroughly dominated by one time middleweight James Toney, and Tito Trinidad toying with an aged Pernell Whitaker. No other sport treats their former stars as harsh. Seemingly indomitable fighters are exposed as mere mortals. A decade of surefire dominance can be extinguished with one punch. Father & son bonds are strained due to the rigors of the industry.

However, it is not only the veterans that are affected by the meanness of the sport. Fighters in their prime also fall victim. Sugar Shane Mosely has never been the same since that perfect uppercut he received in round 2 of the first Vernon Forrest match up. Can Vernon ever recover after consecutive losses to Ricardo Mayorga? Roy Jones Jr. seemed destined to be on his way to a 20 million dollar payday against Mike Tyson until he got caught with a well timed left hook. Now he must fight on to redeem his place in history. Meldrick Taylor also makes this list. Would things have been different for the former Olympian if Richard Steele hadn’t stopped his fight against Julio Ceasar Chavez with less than five seconds remaining?

On the business side, more boxers are filing for bankruptcy protection, a boxing organization’s ranking system can even make a politician shake their head in disbelief, and there are too many lawsuits in the judicial system to count. Fans are cheated from big fights by promoters scared to lose their meal ticket or are forced to pay $49.95 for tune up bouts on pay per view.

So many what ifs, excuses, and unanswered question dominate our sport. Talk is cheap and abundant, actions will always speak louder than words. Yes. Boxing is cruel. But the sport is also kind. We’ll see who makes the next addition of this list, the next time.