Friday, June 27, 2014

Farewell to the Golden Days of Boxing

Muhammad Ali defeats Sonny Liston
Long ago, there was a time when boxing was at the forefront of American sports. You had guys that brought flair and class to the sport, and many spectators would give their undivided attention to see/hear those matchups.

Names such as: Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston, Mike Tyson, and George Foreman (and the list goes on) embodied the epitome of boxing. In other words, these heavyweights (and others) were the force behind the success of boxing in its glory days.

Knockouts, illegal hits, non-stop trash talk, and intense grudge matches made boxing very engaging for boxing and non-boxing fans.

I can remember watching my first fight on PPV: Mike Tyson vs. Lou Savarese in 2000

Mike Tyson in the 90's
 The first punch that Tyson landed was a left hand that dropped Savarese to the canvas. The referee attempted to stop the fight at 26 seconds by getting in between the two, but Tyson continued to hammer away at Savarese, taking down the referee in the process. Shortly afterwards, Tyson was awarded the technical knockout (TKO) victory after only 38 seconds of action.

I also remember my dad finding it hard to believe Tyson had knocked this guy out in 38 seconds, let alone the 1st round. The scene in my house played out as:

Dad: "I'm going to get some nachos in the kitchen."
Family: "Ok, the match is just now starting."
Family: "Oh! Tyson knocked him out in the 1st round!"
Dad: "What?! I missed it! Show me the replay. Ya'll are just playing.." (Unfortunately, DVR was not available in 2000).

And at the end of the match, I became a boxing fan that night.

I continued to watch different fights over the years, and slowly adapted to the gradual decline of the Heavyweight class' notoriety - which eventually turned its main focus to the smaller weight classes.

Now, it seems that the decline of boxing can be attributed to its shift away from glorifying the Heavyweight Class. Instead of anticipating a knockout in less than 3 or 4 rounds, high-profile boxing matches are likely to endure the full length of a 12-round bout.

Could this be the primary mean of extending the viewer time (time = $$$) for designated networks, such as HBO and Showtime?
HBO-sponsored Boxing Ring

Whether or not, the main point is: boxing is not the same. Furthermore, I do not think it will ever be able to reach (or top) its golden days between the periods of Ali and Tyson. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. may be the only fighter to bring "that type" of flair to the boxing ring, but he cannot do it alone.

UFC Fighters in action
Today, the MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) have caught the attention of many more fight spectators.

Plus, the disagreements between promotional giants are not helping the sport AT ALL. Fans want to see great fights. I'm sure the fighters want to be in great fights, also; but, the promoters' motives of "tagging" a fight as their own is the main obstacle in scheduling these big matchups (i.e. Mayweather vs. Pacquiao).

Maybe one day, we will be able to see a fight on the level of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. Despite a number of losses by Pacquiao, he is still at the top of his game...and we all know Floyd still has some fight left in him.

In all, this can be a good change for boxing. The trash-talk, knockouts, and highly-acclaimed grudge matches may not come from the Heavyweight Class, but the "heavyweights of today" are keeping the boxing landscape entertaining. As for now, I will enjoy as much boxing entertainment as I can - slowly adapting to the future changes in this industry.

Floyd "Money" Mayweather, Jr.

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