I wasn’t raised a boxing fan. Catching clips of Mike Tyson and De La Hoya PPV promos and commercials I assumed all boxers fought for the heavyweight title just like in WCW. Going to a family friend’s house to watch my first fight: Tyson-Holyfield II, my parents sold me on the food and friends that’d be there. I could tell they weren’t boxing fans and were going for the party also. I was curious about Tyson after seeing him on ESPN and never forgot his name or that night by the time the fight ended.
A big fight brought about a primordial tribe-like atmosphere with the leader hosting the party and sharing his wealth in the form of food and drinks with activities for the kids. After an adult gave me five bucks for correctly guessing Shane Mosely would beat Oscar De La Hoya (I love the underdog), I began to really look forward to more of these fight parties and wanted to know when the next “big one” would be.
It became clear they were few and far in-between. I convinced my mom to invite over the neighborhood boxing guru who hosted the Mayweather-De La Hoya fight to watch Kelly Pavlik VS Jermain Taylor and to make sure he’d invite us to the next big PPV event. I still had no idea who was really fighting. I learned from the guru’s commentary that Pavlik had extraordinary punching power and we went on to watch the fight of the year. I’d get the invite to watch De La Hoya-Pacqiuao fight that winter but gained the knowledge and actual interest to follow a boxer who wasn’t a household name: Kelly Pavlik.
His gritty, simplistic lifestyle reflected how we imagine a champion training: early morning runs through his small town, hitting the bag at the local gym that lacks wifi but embodies character that can be heard with each slam from locker doors that fight to close with their fist-sized dents. I was hooked.
I followed Pavlik’s career until Sergio Martinez out worked him and had Pavlik battling a personal fight with alcoholism after.
Floyd Mayweather had just retired so I was forced to watch Manny Pacquiao fight Joshua Clottey and catch-weight opponents. Luckily my interest was still intact even after the Pavlik loss and I was rewarded with flash fast Amir Khan, bruisers Marcos Maidana, Victor Ortiz and with new middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.
The post-Mayweather era in 2015 is uncertain. Miguel Cotto, Sergio Matinez, Manny Pacquiao, and Bernard Hopkins are closer to retirement than ever. Danny Garcia, Gennady Golovkin, Andre Ward, and Timothy Bradley look to fill the void and make themselves legends just like their predecessors.
People claim boxing is dead and complain the best fights don’t get made. On the contrary I’ve seen the sport push its limits to reach a market that’s all but lost the patience to wait for a big fight to develop. Highlighting that point, we just witnessed one of the greatest years in boxing history that included almost weekly championship fights televised on Showtime and HBO between the start of September until mid December. Some of these fights were triple and quadruple-headers that had up to three championship fights on each card! The argument of relevance has actually pushed boxing promoters to create more entertainment, which means bigger fights more often.
For better or worse, I’m a boxing fan through and through and detest the XFL…I mean the UFC. I watch tradition and grace as 8oz red gloves strike opponents whose heads don’t bob fast enough or feet don’t dance to the rhythm of champions. The countdown of Floyd Mayweather’s career will push other boxers to fight harder opponents so they can have a chance to face the greatest ever, while Floyd himself looks to finish in dominating fashion. The next two years could be exceptionally great and I look forward to being there for the ride.