R.I.P. professional boxing
Are you a boxing fan yearning for a marquee match up with the greatest fighters in the world?
Then I hope you have ESPN Classic and catch Ali week this year, as the sport is officially dead at the professional level.
The sport was declared dead Tuesday, when Grand Rapids’ own Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. and Filipino politician Manny Pacquiao failed to reach a negotiation on drug testing before their March mega-fight, which was expected to draw record pay-per-view numbers.
Ridiculous circumstances led to the fight’s cancellation. Mayweather’s father, Floyd Sr., had often accused the Pac man of using performance enhancing drugs, since he has had no problem over the years in putting on weight to move up classes and still dominated, and Mayweather’s camp wanted random drug testing right up until the week of the fight.
Some may say Mayweather was scared or being trite, but I think he was doing what he has done his whole career – trying to get in his opponent’s head. And it’s worked for him in the past, as he’s undefeated through 40 fights (Pacquiao’s record is impressive as well, 50-3-2). During negotiations between promoters, an agreement was laid out that no blood could be drawn after 14 days before the fight for drug testing. Manny said that having blood drawn affects his fighting and didn’t want to go past 30 days.
All in all, the whole situation got blown up and now boxing fans are in the same spot they’ve been in ever since Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear off – waiting for a great fight between two powerhouses for a clearly defined title.
Sure Lennox Lewis, Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones Jr., and my favorite Felix “Tito” Trinidad, provided some entertainment throughout the years, but that was well into the twilight of their careers, for the most part.
Now boxing’s lone superstars, Mayweather and Pacquiao, aren’t fighting and it’s time we realize the sport is officially irrelevant, other than amateur bouts and the Olympics.
There are some obvious reasons why boxing met its demise.
First off, there’s 15 weight classes. So if a boxer is having trouble getting to the champ in his division, there’s nothing stopping him from gaining or losing five to eight pounds in hopes of finding a division with weaker competition.
Next, even when a boxer finds a weight class, what belt should they win to be the best? The IBF? The WBC? The WBO? The WBA?
Oh that’s right, the most widely respected ranking system isn’t in any of those boxing associations, but Ring Magazine. And next year Slam Magazine gets to decide who wins the NBA Championship. Sports Illustrated gets to pick who plays in the Super Bowl, too.
But the third, and most important reason boxing has been buried is the rise of mixed martial arts, which no matter what people tell you, is a lot more exciting, a lot less controversial and most importantly, is attracting the best fighters from all martial arts disciplines, including boxing.
And thanks to Mayweather and Pacquiao, MMA will have no trouble in taking the crown as the number one fighting sport in the world.