I grew up watching the greats like Ali, Frazier, Sugar Ray, Hagler, Hearns, Tyson, Holyfield, Chavez, and other boxers of significance as a kid.
We used to go watch the Golden Gloves championship and on the way to the arena my parents spoke of Marciano, Lewis, Robinson, LaMotta, and other heroes of the past.
Boxing was such an amazing sport. The pure science it was and the ultimate test of one on one in professional sports. But as time and corruption changed the sport, it lost its luster and most of all its credibility.
The heavyweight division faded and the sport was left with Roy Jones Jr. (a blow hard who actually never fought anyone in his prime), Oscar DeLa Hoya, and Bernard Hopkins (a menacing fighter of redemption and resiliency).
Floyd Mayweather has been a great champion and a devastating student of the boxing game, so good that no one has even blemished the pretty boys face or image for that matter. Yet, we are still left asking is that it?
Well the emergence of Pride, K 1, and eventually the UFC has given way to the purest form of professional fighting. It pits the greatest fighters in the world representing all different schools of hand to hand combat and pitting them in the ring or octagon for that matter.
It's hard to not be intrigued by the brutality of this sport and the overall excitement generated by a kick-boxer fighting a college All American wrestler and a jujitsu black belt taking on a mui thai expert.
These types of match-ups have this barbarian gladiatorial feel to them as the world's best fighters are matched with no significant national implications as fans like fighters from around the world.
The skills necessary to be a consistent champion in this sport are striking, grappling, submission holds and most importantly the mental edge that separate contenders from pretenders.
They come from all walks of life and from the worlds four corners. They talk the talk and most walk the walk.
Personally I was an old school boxing fan who refused to give MMA a reasonable look until about five years ago as I spent hours with a MMA fanatic on the Internet watching highlights and fights of Don Frye, Cro Cop, Wanderlai, Andersen, Chuck, Serra, Fedor, Cotoure, and other great warriors of the new "fight game."
Since then I have been a huge fan and ask the question of boxing fans who refuse to give MMA a glance...
"Do you not realize the amount of great fighting you are missing?"