In the past 60 days, the sport of boxing has had two high-profile fights in which one of the combatants refused to engage at any meaningful level.
These fights—Pacquiao-Mosley and Klitschko-Haye—were fights that had crossover appeal: They were fights that people who would not consider themselves "boxing fans" had some interest in.
The pathetic performances turned in by Moseley and Haye only serve to drive those casual fans away from the sport.
For months, years even, David Haye has talked about the beating he was going to give Klitschko. In the end, Haye landed 72 punches in a 12 round fight. Put another way, the trash-talking Brit managed to average a grand total of two punches landed per minute.
It was an embarrassing performance from Haye. Much like Mosley against Pacquiao, Haye seemed much more interested in not getting hit than he did in actually trying to win the fight. Immediately after the fight, Haye started with the excuses, but it doesn't change what happened in the ring.
And what happened was damaging to the sport.
That casual fan who tuned into the fight due to the hype walked away thinking that boxing was every bit as boring as he believed previously. He won't be back for a long time—if ever.
Thirty years ago, I was dragged to a professional soccer game despite having little interest in the sport. It was a dreadful game that confirmed every negative impression I had of soccer. It wasn't until the 2006 World Cup—26 years after the first soccer match I had watched—that I was willing to give the sport another chance. No doubt, boxing lost potential fans with the sad performances of both Moseley and Haye.
In the end, both Haye and Mosley embarrassed themselves. Realistically, if either had chosen to engage, they probably would have lost, but they would have gained respect for having at least tried. People paid good money for both fights, but certainly did not get their money's worth because Haye and Mosley chose safety over fighting.
That may be a rational choice for normal people—I don't want to be hit in the face hundreds of times by Wlad or Manny—but for a professional boxer, it's just sad.
Maybe the money has grown too large at the elite levels of the sport, causing top fighters to seek simply to preserve their careers rather than fight. Maybe Haye's critics were right all along—he lacked heart and was simply afraid of Klitschko.
Whatever the case, boxing is hurt when fighters like Haye and Mosley choose to hide rather than fight.
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