In watching boxing, I have had very weird conversations with my friends. They quip, "No one watches boxing and why would I care?". I simply say that it is the greatest sport in the world.
It is much like golf. Who can you blame except yourself or the judges? No one. I have seen many great fighters in my 26 years of watching boxing. Pernell Whitaker, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Felix Trinidad, "Terrible" Terry Norris, Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson....the list goes on.
But what makes me cringe is the fact that I have to shell out 50 or 60 dollars to watch a "garbage" 12-round fight. Where do we go from here? It is up to us as viewers and fistic historians to delve in to this.
Let's start with the 1980's. This was a period of outstanding fights and wars, the pinnacle of Mike Tyson's reign and the beginning of Pernell Whitaker's historic run through divisions. Is there any fighter today that can come close to that? Maybe in Manny Pacquiao and maybe Juan Manuel Marquez.
Mayweather, Jr. is talented enough but doesn't fight "the best". Do we still have to shell out 59 dollars to see him beat up on Arturo Gatti? No. It shouldn't be that way. We as fight fans don't want the UFC to take boxing over, but they are simply beating us to the punch.
Gone are the days of the "Welter Wars" with Sugar Ray Leonard challenging all comers. We just lost our best version of Ray Leonard in Oscar De La Hoya. I shed tears from his interview on ESPN. De La Hoya went out trying to make the fans think he was able to beat everyone. He didn't beat all comers, but he challenged all of them.
He lost but he gave us 18 years of quality action. I shouldn't have to be relegated to watching Oscar fight on ESPN or on free cable. Whenever there was a De La Hoya fight it was an event for the whole family. He put "the meat" in the seats.
Seeing Oscar De La Hoya lose in humiliating fashion hurt me as person and a fan. Manny Pacquiao dished out a horrific beating, round after round, and Oscar couldn't do anything about it. Age had finally caught up with the "Golden Boy".
Who will take his place?
Manny Pacquiao is a different kind of fighter. He is able to lose weight, gain weight, get "cut up" and travel to different weight classes like no one I have seen before. But we see that he is vulnerable. If not for four knockdowns against Marquez he would have two losses.
Juan Manuel Marquez is a gifted boxer, I respect him. Marquez probably won sixteen of the twenty-four rounds he and Pacquiao have boxed but still came out on the losing end.
Every fighter needs a rival, and I am just not seeing this today. The Klitschkos have no rivals in boxing. Manny does. Marco Antonio Barerra did and so did Oscar.
Shane Mosley is a fighter that can turn back the clock at any time but has inexplicable losses and the alleged EPO use. I liked seeing Shane fight, he was big, strong and compact and gave Oscar De La Hoya a horrific beating in 2000. The score was a split decision but he won eight rounds.
De La Hoya lost all of his hand speed after the Vargas fight and was relegated to climbing weight classes. We as boxing fans do not have another one to follow after De La Hoya's retirement. No matter how hard we look, it is hard to find a draw like him.
I miss the old days of watching Pernell Whitaker literally box circles around people. It was a major headline if he actually lost a round. This current crop has no "it" factor. Why would I pay to watch Antonio Margarito fake his way to a title?
There is no one that gets my heart racing anymore. I liked watching Oscar vs Tito, Pernell and Shane Mosley and I miss Fernando Vargas.
Trinidad is relegated to throwing one punch at a time and so is Roy Jones, but watching Bernard Hopkins feast on competition is a tribute to the lack of talent in boxing, not his skill. Seeing my idol Kelly Pavlik get beat on for twelve rounds was heartbreaking.
When will you come back boxing? When?