|As far as television is concerned, the Golden Age of boxing was in the1950s. There was boxing on every night, with fighters like Sugar Ray Robinson, Jake LaMotta, Archie Moore and countless others headlining the cards. Being born in the late-|
1960s, I missed it, but I can’t help imagining it was nirvana. Of course, I didn’t grow up at too bad a time for boxing. Back in the late-seventies and early-eighties, when my interest in boxing was being formed, I got to witness fantastic fights on the big-three U.S. television networks â€“ABC, NBC and CBS. Usually there was at least one major fight with an under-card fight or two guaranteed on Saturday and Sunday. And they weren’t just fights, mind you, there were some classics. I remember Andy Ganigan blasting out Sean O’Grady in two rounds. Alexis Arguello taking out a game and brave Ray Mancini in the thirteenth. Duk-Ko Kim earning boxing immortality by fighting to his death against Mancini. Then there were Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Bobby Chacon, Rolando Navarette and Bazooka Limon fighting each other seemingly on a monthly basis with every single one of the fights being brilliant.
A young Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard were all there as well. There were many others-and my apologies for leaving any of your favorites out. It was a beautiful time to be a boxing fan. At that time, pay-per-view fights meant something. When Leonard and Hearns fought, it was the talk of the sporting world. It was an amazing build-up that the fight itself somehow surpassed with Leonard coming back for a fourteenth-round stoppage.
This weekend on pay-per-view? Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Mzonke Fana. For forty-dollars. Two weeks after that, ESPN jumps into the pay-per-view fray with Antonio Margarito vs. Kermit Cintron, Juan Diaz vs. Ebo Elder, Jameel McCline vs. Calvin Brock and David Estrada vs. Shane Mosley. For the bargain price of thirty-dollars. Even the better match-ups on pay-per-view coming soon aren’t really pay-per-view-worthy in my book. Felix Trinidad vs. “Winky’ Wright is an excellent match, but Tito is really the draw. Nobody would pay a dime to see Wright against anyone else. The SaddoBoxing forumites are going crazy for the Floyd Mayweather-Arturo Gatti battle, and I don’t blame them. But for forty-five-dollars?
On May 28, there’s an extremely average fight card for forty-dollars. Jesus Chavez vs. Carlos Hernandez, Rafael Marquez vs. Ricardo Vargas and Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. and Jr? While very watch-able, is that card really worth the same amount as a boxing video game you can play for months? Boxing has entered an era of elitism that’s disturbing. It’s bad enough that the general public accepts fights on HBO and ESPN, but when promoters are looking for thirty- to forty-dollars for cards headlined by Margarito, Cintron and Fana, then things are just completely out of whack.
It’s time boxing came back to the people. I understand economics and I’m a realist: the pay-per-view gravy train is here to stay. But work with us. ESPN had an opportunity to change the game by offering a lower priced event. But now, they are giving us a thirty-dollar card that should be ten-dollars. We are in the eye of a pay-per-view tornado these next few weeks, so spend your money wisely. Because no matter which fights you watch, I feel confident guaranteeing that all the upcoming fights combined won’t equal one Chacon-Boza-Edwards.
William Wolfrum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org