After the sad death of boxing great Arturo Gatti, I have been pondering the decline of the sweet science. It was great fights like Gatti vs. Ward that made boxing great. It was a three fight war that was as exciting as it was brutal.
The world truly lost a great warrior and champion when it lost Arturo Gatti. Not only was he a great champion with heart, he was a great guy outside the ring. May he rest in peace.
Naturally every generation goes on about the great fights of yesteryear. My dad goes on about Sonny Liston while I bore my kids to death with stories of Larry Homes and Mike Tyson.
While many old timers go on about the heart of boxers like Marciano and Ali, boxers today brag about their bank account. Still others try to cheat their way to victory. A lot of young fighters today are better at talking trash then actual fighting. While many have great skill, they seem to lack the all important Heart.
So I guess we have to talk about character. In the days of Louis, Dempsy, and Marciano, boxers did their talking in the ring. They were usually soft spoken and very polite.
That all changed when a young man named Clay arrived from Kentucky.
Ali decided at a young age that he had to market himself to get to the big time. It's a decision that earned him the nickname "the Louisville lip." Ali was a new kind of boxer that ran his mouth and backed it up in the ring.
I think a lot of young fighters grew up idolizing Ali. They not only wanted to be the champ, they wanted to trash talk like him. Problem is, Ali was the greatest. He earned the right to trash talk by beating people in the ring.
Ali really only had one guy that gave him trouble in his prime: Joe Frazier.
And why did he give Ali trouble?
Well, there's Fraizer's power, chin, head movement, defense, and a left hook from hell. But, most of all his sheer heart. That's right. His will to win. He just wouldn't quit.
But lack of heart isn't the only thing killing boxing. Any discussion must include managers and promoters. Managers have always had a reputation for being shady characters, but today they are ruining the sport of boxing. There's too many lawyers, image consultants, and marketing people involved in our beloved sport of gladiators.
The business side of boxing is killing the sport. In the old days boxers wanted to face the best because they were proud warriors. Today it's all about the money. Back then the boxers figured the money would come because they were passionate about their trade.
I still think that boxers want to fight the best, but their managers protect them like their ten-year-old daughters.
For example, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. The kid is 39-0 and has beaten no one. His biggest victory was Matt Vanda! If the kid can't beat a real fighter after 39 fights then he doesn't belong in the sport.
But I don't think that fighters being protected is even the biggest problem today. I think the biggest problem today is the down time between so-called big fights. In this age of instant gratification, people have to wait too damn long for a decent fight.
People today just don't have the attention span to wait six months for a championship match that probably wont live up to its billing.
If there was a big fight on every weekend, people would watch boxing again. Put it back on network TV every Friday night. People would follow boxing like the NFL if it were championship caliber at least once a month.
To make things worse, a whole slew of promising fights have been canceled this year.
Fights like Mosley-Margarito and Cotto-Clottey gave us hope that boxing would stay alive. But when Mayweather-Marquez and Klitschko-Haye got canceled in the same few months, we lose hope.
Once again I just want to say RIP Gatti. You're forever our champion.