Remember when boxing had heavyweight stars?
This is going to be painful to write.
When I was four years old, I watched Larry Holmes beat down Muhammad Ali on national TV. I didn’t know why at the time, but it made me really sad, sort of like watching someone kick your favorite old dog.
Four years later I read my first “adult” book, “The Greatest: My Own Story", Muhammad Ali’s autobiography. I was instantly hooked, not just by the sport, but by this man who took on racism, war, religious intolerance and pretty much the entire South.
Again, I didn’t know why at the time, but I knew Muhammad Ali was someone to look up to. I still do.
I can’t say the same for boxing. What was once one of my favorite sports has turned into a hot mess that is on the verge of extinction. I grew up in one of boxing’s Golden Eras watching Sugar Ray, Hagler, Hearns, Duran, a young Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield.
It was all going great until Don King came along and ruined the whole thing. Now I feel like boxing itself is the old dog and I am the one kicking it.
It might have taken years, but I will finally admit that MMA is far superior to boxing and here is why.
Remember when Manny wasn't the only compelling fighter?
By my count there is exactly one fighter in boxing that I care about.
Mayweather is a punk. Ivan Drago (Klitschko) could not be more boring. Bernard Hopkins is 76 years old and just lost his belt.
So the questions remain; how many times can Manny Pacquiao fight in a year? Can he move all the way up to heavyweight? Can they clone him so he can fight himself?
I would wager that the future of boxing is going to be exactly as long as the future of Pac Man, because there is no one else worth watching.
I routinely see fights on the bottom of a UFC card that are 10 times more entertaining than anything I’ve seen in boxing in the last decade.
I am at the point where I’d rather watch someone play Mike Tyson’s Punch Out than watch a real boxing match. L’il Mac vs. Soda Popinski* would qualify as a pay-per-view event by today’s standards.
*If this music doesn't give you a Pavlovian response then you did not grow up in the 1980s.
Let's see boxing top this fight.
I am so tired of the Drago Brothers. Tired tired tired of giant Ukrainians who no one can beat because they are 7’6” tall and wash their nether regions in ice water.
We haven’t seen a good American heavyweight since…well, does Rocky Balboa count? The heavyweight division of boxing is about as bankrupt of talent as Hollywood and this is an industry that thought it was a good idea to remake Footloose and Point Break.
There are many reasons for the lack of talent in the heavyweight division of boxing (American kids are playing sports that don’t end in brain damage, for starters) but in my lifetime, there has never been such a lack of intriguing fighters in boxing's most important division.
If Rosie O’Donnell fought Oprah, it would be the best heavyweight fight in a decade. (By the way, my money is on Rosie, she’s got a mean streak and a killer right cross.)
Unless an unknown boxer from Philly decides to fight Klitschko on Christmas Day while simultaneously ending the Cold War, I am not interested.
American hero Muhammad Ali
It’s not as if MMA is safe, but with what we now know about head injuries and concussions, I think it is safe to say it is better to take one massive knockout blow or get choked out than to take repeated shots to the head over 12 rounds.
Watching my hero and one of the most charismatic humans of all time, Muhammad Ali, unable to speak is heartbreaking. And don’t think kids aren’t seeing the same thing and thinking “I think I’ll go out for basketball.”
MMA may cause cauliflower ear, broken bones and questionable taste in T-shirts and music, but so far most of the fighters still seem to be able to string together a sentence.
Since MMA is relatively new, the jury is still out on this one, but go talk to almost any old boxer and you’ll know all you need to about head injuries in boxing.
Satan? Or just Buckwheat with a murder rap?
From day one, boxing has allegedly been corrupted by the mafia, but then something even worse came along; a loudmouth flag waver named Don King. Now the sport was not only corrupt, but it was corrupt on pay-per-view.
Remember paying 60 bucks to watch Mike Tyson bite off Evander’s ear?
Remember how your rear end hurt after paying exorbitant amounts of money for fight cards that didn’t have a single good fight? Me too.
Sure, UFC's main events are still on pay-per-view (for now) but can you remember seeing a card that didn’t have AT LEAST three good fights on it, or remember seeing a fight whose decision was so lopsided that you knew King and his mafia cronies just banked while you were left wondering how you once again got suckered into this nonsense? Me either.
Boxing is its own worst enemy and will be until it figures out that fans don’t want to feel cheated by lousy and/or corrupt fights.
Wake up boxing! Give us a fight for free.
UFC has TUF, Spike TV, Facebook and now FOX.
The last time I saw a good boxing match on cable TV, Michael Jackson was not only alive, but looked human, hadn’t started himself on fire and we were certain he didn't touch kids.
You couldn’t make the price low enough for me to pay for a boxing event now. Until boxing figures out that they have lost their fan base and the only way to get it back is to give them some good product for free, they will continue to struggle to sell all non-Pacquiao fights.
Bonnar vs. Griffin was on regular TV, enough said.
If you are under 25, you probably don't miss boxing much, but some of us do, and unless boxing takes MMA's lead, all we'll have left are memories and Rocky re-runs.