The last couple years have shown a real resurgence in mainstream US interest in Boxing.
Now that Interest has never waned abroad, and is arguably stronger than it has ever been everywhere from England to Russia, but only in the States that for most of the 20th century was the heart and head and seat of professional Boxing (The home of Boxing’s greatest champions From Jack Johnson to Evander Holyfield), has Boxing been shuffled off the main stage, into all but minor league obscurity.
And while MMA is undoubtably big these days, it is not Boxing. And it is not better than Boxing, it exercises different interests, the way Soccer differs from Football. They both have their strengths.
For my money while MMA has its strengths, and I am glad for its growth, that growth should not come at the expense of Boxing. Anymore than the growth in Rugby should mean we stop giving airtime to Football.
While I like MMA as a discipline and there have been many great matches, the standup game of Boxing and that specification of strikes, and limitation of styles, lends itself to truly epic engagements deserving of apellations such as fight of the year, far more often and regularly than MMA.
Boxing due to its length and its style lends itself to being… more than a sprint, when you have two great fighters and styles in the boxing ring, you get these epic engagements of will that allows you to see a fighter’s chin tested and his endurance tested in a way that the sprint, submission style of MMA, rarely lends itself to.
Again there are many great fighters and matches in the past and present of MMA, from the domination years of Royce Gracie to the domination years of Sakuraba to the domination years of Anderson Silva to the current domination years of fantastic fighters such as Jon Jones (currently the best UFC fighter and a personal favorite, who I like to introduce, whenever I see him fight, in my best Boxing Announcer voice as… ‘JON JONES…… THE MARTIAN MANHUNTER!!!!! You have to be a comic book fan to get the reference, but I think that is way better than the idiotic nickname of ‘BONES’ that they give him) and such phenoms as Buakaw (if you do not know that name, go searching for any of his over 200 professional fights. Yes I said over 200 fights!!!!! He is the stuff of legend.); but these exceptions aside, as a whole Boxing’s stand up style lends itself to far more interesting engagements.
I recently watched (on the big screen TV, I don’t watch video on a phone or tablet or laptop. If I am going to take the time to watch something, I want to watch it as close to its intended scale as possible. Only then can you get close to adequately consuming, or reviewing and forming and intelligent opinion on the content consumed. David Lean’s LAWRENCE OF ARABIA seen in 70mm on a full size movie theater, which I have done, is a completely richer experience than watching it on someone’s LCD monitor. How you consume content, is part and parcel of the experience), courtesy of the Youtube App on my Roku device, a bevy of classic 70s and 80s Boxing matches, with men who fought true wars in the ring.
Of course Ali, Frazier, Norton, George Foreman (people remember Foreman for his later post Ali years as Champion and beloved funny guy and elder statesman of boxing, but during his first life, as a boxer, that went from 1969 to 1977, this guy… in a heavyweight scene full of fearsome men, was the most feared man on the entire planet.
He was a young, gigantic, brutal,and undefeatable force of nature breaking everything in his path. Ivan Drago’s character in Rocky 4, the character played by Dolph Lundgren (‘I will break you.’) that was George Foreman in the late 60s early 70s. An unbeatable force of nature, till a man called Ali found a way to beat him.)
And similar, stuff of legend wars… were fought in the lighter divisions by men with names like Tommy the Hitman Hearnes, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Roberto the man with the hands of Stone Duran, And Sugar Ray Leonard.
I watched the 1st Duran Hearnes fight, then I watched the Hearnes Sugar Ray fight, and its eight year later sequel.
Here is the thing people forget about Hearnes, he much like George Foreman, because of his height and frame and reach… was something new in boxing for his weight class. A kid, like they all were back then, coming out of Detroit he cut through the middlewight division like a knife, earning the name of Hitman by knocking out everyone he faced. An undefeated champion, he and Sugar Ray Leonard, also a champion, would meet in September 1981 for a winner take all unification match.
It was called the showdown and lived up to its billing. Being a 15 round war and one of the greatest fights of that year or any year.
I take this trip down memory lane to say that… what is great about Boxing, can not be replaced or usurped by MMA. There is a uniqueness to Boxing, that makes it, when you get a talented crop of Boxers, the stuff of legend.
I think after 20 years of neglect, and corruption (something that the UFC seems to be dealing with, as well as K1. The japanese PRIDE was the best thing to happen to MMA, and since its effective buyout and dissolution, we have an increasingly suspect, in terms of management, UFC).
you now have a very exciting Boxing landscape starting to form, particularly at the lower weight classes. Terrence Crawford and Errol Spence being two of the most exciting fighters to come along in decades. And suddenly you begin to see this return of interest and money to the boxing landscape, that I for one am looking forward to.
For more on Boxing, go listen to two recent, pretty darn excellent John Siuntres WORD BALLOON podcasts, that veer from comic books to boxing, in interviews with two great names in the Boxing coverage landscape.
Completely riveting interviews, and after listening, you, like I, will be searching Youtube for great Boxers past and present and future.
Thanks for checking out this post, and if you enjoy please leave a like, or comment. And feel free to recommend your 5 favorite recent boxing and or mma matches or websites.
To get you started here are my recommendations of must watch Youtube boxing/mma videos:
I love watching Thomas Hearnes fight. He had a fantastic jab, a great left hook attack to the body and head, and one of the best, most devastating, right hands in Boxing history. Which makes the following clip, all the more amazing. And why Sugar Ray Leonard, like his idol Muhammad Ali, is the greatest of all time. Because he fought unbeatable men… and found a way to beat them.
And if that is the past of Boxing, here is the present and future: 2018 is the year America remembers what the world has never forgotten, that the boxing ring is the place where the last legends of the world…. are made.
And for more on how to stay ontop the changing world of Boxing, I recommend the following two sites (that both offer subscriptions to their magazines):