26.10.05 – By Joseph Carlo Russo: There was a time when boxing was ranked as the number two sport in The United States preceding baseball. A champion would fight and entire neighborhoods, counties, and cities would stop. The sport was made accessible and therefore it was made enjoyable. Bouts would be showcased all over the country, and all over the world causing for an augmented fanbase, an increased familiarity, and an amassed interest in the sport..
Lately, these qualities have failed to meet due to a number of reasons. Too many champions, and too many weight classes is one. But, perhaps, more significant is the lack of permeation of the sport. As quality fights are seldom held outside of Las Vegas, those residing outside of the vicinity of the southwest location are, simply, out of luck. But fight fans have displayed time and time again that there is a need and there is a reason for fights to be staged in different places. This year in particular there have been about three fights exhibiting boxing’s potential for revitalization on a national and a global scale.
First, there was the February 5th bout featuring Cory Spinks and Zab Judah for the undisputed welterweight championship. Now, Cory Spinks is surely not the most crowd-satisfying fighter, but regardless, that didn’t refrain the 20,000 fans that flocked to the event from backing their soil’s pugilist. Chances are that not every one of these fans really knew who Cory Spinks was or what his particular standing in the sport of boxing was. But, many came out just because a fight is a rarity in the city of St. Louis and that partaking in the occasion might turn out to be a fun experience as the place electrified upon Spinks’ uniquely entertaining signature ring entrance ritual.
Jeff Lacy’s August 6th bout also showcased boxing’s liveliness as approximately 20,000 fans showed up in Tampa, Florida to support their indigenous star. The scenario was similar to that of the Cory Spinks in that I’m sure that not all of the 20,000 spectators were “fans” by definition. But, indeed they were not shy of a little support for their fellow Floridian as the house erupted upon hearing “Born in the USA.” The crowd cheered excessively for the always exciting Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy, en route to a 8th round TKO of overrated British contender Robin Reid.
The most identifiable and significant example of the potential boxing possesses when spread to different places is Ricky Hatton. Having filled a mere 22,000 seats in his native Manchester in his championship bout with Kostya Tszyu, Ricky intends to stage a fight in a soccer, or football stadium encompassing around 60,000 spectators, making The Hitman the biggest draw in the entire sport today. On top of attracting the largest crowd, Hatton definitely brings the liveliest crowd, which is one unparalleled by any found in The United States in that respect. Regardless of his opponent, Ricky Hatton guarantees a full house every time as the tenacious warrior always comes to fight, and never fails to please. How could anyone blame him for not wanting to come to the States? The man could a build his entire legacy having never left his backyard.
Boxing is a sport advantageous over others in its simplistic foundation. You can put a good fight anywhere on the planet and nobody will stray from watching it. Who doesn’t love two men engaging in an organized physical altercation for fisted supremacy? Cory Spinks, Jeff Lacy, and Ricky Hatton’s 2005 bouts proved that boxing is far from dwindling when presented under the right circumstance. Hopefully, these three examples will encourage the type of geographic exposure and permeation of the game that once made for it to reign near supreme in the sports entertainment industry.