From the Rumble in the Jungle and the Thrilla in Manilla to the boredom in the boxing ring and the waning of the weigh in. There was a time when boxers, in particular the heavyweights, were amongst some of the most recognisable faces in the world and in Cassius Clay/Ali the pugilists had a figure that transcended not just boxing but sport itself. Whatever happened? As an occasional observer i would hazard a guess at three things:-
1) 17 weight divisions and 35 world champions tells its own story. Too many belts, too many champions not enough talent to go around and to justifiably claim the mantle of champion of the world. I wouldn’t know 99 % of them.
2) The thinly spread talent pool is exacerbated by a true lack of talent and strength in depth and genuine personalities and also handicapped by too many one sided fights
3) Too much money leading to too much promotional activity which is lending itself to fiasco`s outside the ring as protagonists are reducing themselves to ever more ridiculous antics for publicity. The sport is slowly turning itself into the idiot brother of WWE
Maybe i`m being a bit harsh on boxing as i grew up in age of some of the greatest names ever. As Ali, Foreman and Frazier retired my generation was treated to the delights of Mike Tyson. At middleweight there were legends in Hagler, Hearns, Leonard and Duran. In Britain the sport was on the up there was Bruno, Lennox, Mcguigan, Benn, Eubank, Watson. So to be fair to keep my attention it was going to be a hard ask living up to the Eubank – Benn fights or Hagler v Hearns or Hagler v Leonard or Durans brilliant comeback against Barkley.
What are the answers? Possibly put in place a proper disciplinary body to sort out the antics outside the ring, stop the whole “two boxers in hate each others guts” shock story that is pedaled out every time there is a bout, get the fighters showing true respect for each other before the fight not just after, stop the handpicking of one sided fights, improve the image of the sport and reduce the amount of governing bodies and weight divisions.
Despite the pointless and tedious shenanigans and playground abuse hurling possibly the Froch v Groves fight on the weekend may reignite some genuine interest in a sport that is rapidly in need of an image overhaul. Less is more in some cases and it certainly true that in boxing too many belts spoil the broth