I used to live for a good boxing match. As A kid I can remember Ken Norton destroying my hometown hero Duane Bobick in less than a minute and being crushed for the entire weekend. Luckily, I was able to get over it and continue being a fan of the fights. The fights in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s meant boxing and boxing only. I can remember how fired up I was to go to my local cable company in September of 81 and get the little PPV box that allowed me (and my family) to watch “Sugar” Ray Leonard beat Tommy Hearns in an amazing fight. As I got older, I would save my money and make the easy flight from San Diego to Las Vegas so I could see some of my favorite fighters in person. I was there for the Hearns/Leonard rematch, I was there when Julio Cesar Chavez beat Meldrick Taylor with just two seconds remaining in the fight and I was there was Iran Barkley knocked out Tommy Hearns in one of the great upsets in Boxing history.
I lived in London for a year and got a job….working for Mickey Duff, the hall of fame promoter. I had the greatest arrangement of all time…If I would sell tickets for the three hours prior to the fight, I would be paid 25 pounds, two beers and a sandwich…I was pretty sure I had hit the lotto.
In 1991 I started working in local radio, and it didn’t take me long to figure out working in the media allowed me to apply for credentials to the fights, leaving that hard earned money in my pocket. Again, I was sure I had hit the jackpot. De La Hoya, Tyson, Norris, and Lewis were just some of the guys I was lucky enough to cover. In my garage I have one of those plastic storage tubs you get from Target that is packed with ticket stubs, press passes and fight programs.
In my living room I have the framed poster from the second Leonard/Hearns fight, and in my garage I have ten other framed fight posters that didn’t make the cut after I got married! I probably have twenty five more that are rolled and in tubes, their future has yet to be determined.
That is my story, and I am sure it’s similar to a lot of yours. I point it out as background as I try to figure out why I don’t pay attention to boxing anymore. I love the NFL and MLB, but when it comes to my favorite memories, it always starts with great fights.
There were two fights that people were talking about on the internet Saturday night. Paul Williams wins a highly disputed decision over Erislandy Lara and Brandon Rios knocked out Urban Antillon in what I read was an excellent fight.
That is crazy to me, that I am now reading about excellent fights instead of ripping my friends for missing them. Don’t tell me I missed the fights because no marquee names were involved. In 1998 I made one of my few winning wagers when I bet Angel Manfredy over Arturo Gatti.
Talking about it in the office today, the point was made that money has played a major part and that we no longer see the fights the fans are calling for. For two plus years we have asked to see Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather square off, but that fight doesn’t seem to be any closer to being made now then it was two years ago.
Dana White can say that he is a boxing fan and there is room for both boxing and mma, but he knows he is responsible for slowly squashing the sport he claims to love so much.
By putting great fights on free TV, making the fights the fans want to see, listening when the fans protest fights rumored to be signed, and loading up cards with 3-4 really good fights, White is getting an “A” where boxing continues to get “C’s and D’s”.
Did you watch either of the fights this past weekend? Did a bunch of friends come over for beers and a BBQ to watch the fights? If not will you look for the replays? I have to admit I will look to see if a replay is coming up of the Rios fight, but if not so what. I can always go pull the VCR out of the garage and watch Hearns vs. Hagler and remember what boxing used to be, and wonder if it will ever be the same.