Remember When Heavyweights Were the Marquee and Not the Undercard in Boxing?

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Remember When Heavyweights Were the Marquee and Not the Undercard in Boxing?
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

It seems as though it's been forever since the heavyweight division was the class of the sport. Remember when Mike Tyson was headlining World Championship Boxing? What about Evander Holyfield fighting Buster Douglas for the title...on a Monday night?

Those days seem to be gone.

Not only isn't it a strong American heavyweight, but the Heavyweight Champion of the World is fighting and no one cares. That point has never been so poignant until Saturday.

Wladimir Klitschko, the recognized lineal heavyweight champion, defended his title against undefeated Polish fighter Mariusz Wach. Never had there been a heavyweight title fight with absolutely no hype, no pre-fight show, no anything. And why? Why is the Heavyweight Champion being relegated to fighting on Epix and not on HBO or Showtime, both of which had shows later in the night?

The answer is simple. The division is no longer relevant.

In the division's weakest era, the 1980s—which saw Larry Holmes run through the division like a freight train—heavyweight title fights not featuring Holmes were still shown on the big networks. Remember Pinklon Thomas versus Mike Weaver?

Those days are long gone, and maybe not having a relevant American heavyweight in the picture is the problem. But let's analyze how low the division has sunk. Whenever a fight with Vitali Klitschko and David Haye is considered the most important fight in the division since Klitschko and Lennox Lewis, we have a problem.

The problem also lies with the networks. How can the two biggest networks in the sport not broadcast the bout? While both cards on HBO and Showtime were major Saturday night, the heavyweight title always used to take precedence over other bouts. While the fights between Abner Mares and Anselmo Moreno (Showtime) and Erislandy Lara and Vanes Martirosyan (HBO) were important bouts to both divisions, they never would have taken precedence over the heavyweight title fight in the past.

So how do we fix this issue?

America has one talented heavyweight prospect in Seth Mitchell, but Mitchell being in the title picture isn't Klitschko the only thing that is needed to bring the division back to its glory. It needs a superstar who can fascinate fans and bring them back to the division. But, the division itself could still be relevant, if this one main thing that is needed is done.

The Klitschko brothers haven't fought in the United States in years. A fight with David Haye or maybe Steve Cunningham on American soil can bring the fans back to the division and make the heavies the class again.

It's been years since HBO highlighted a true heavyweight title fight on their schedule. I believe, in hindsight, that the way to do so is to have the current belt-holders fighting in America and not overseas on Epix. Only time will tell, but if these requests are granted, maybe one day we'll see the glamor division of the sport glamorous again.  

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