by Paul Magno
In a perfect world, boxing’s fiercest battles would take place inside the ring and the sport’s sanctioning bodies would actually facilitate quality match-ups rather than get in the way…. In a perfect world, promoters and managers would realize that making fan-friendly fights will bring in more cash than coddling their fighters with meaningless easy fights and that the fans don’t care about losses on a world class fighter’s record as long as he puts forth a solid effort and is willing to take on the very best…In a perfect world, also, fans would insist on getting the bouts that they want and not allow themselves to be cheated time and again with bogus time-wasters.
Looking at the ridiculously stacked 140 lb. division, one can’t help but wonder what could be going on and how much excitement could be generated with such a deep roster of quality fighters.
Here’s a look at what the jr. welterweight division would look like if we lived in a perfect world:
* Booked on an HBO double-header, things kick off the right way with Timothy Bradley vs. Marcos Maidana and Devon Alexander vs. Amir Khan in a de facto mini-tournament to determine the division’s real king. Both quality fights sure to bring fan interest, the two winners would emerge as even bigger stars while the two losers would gain street cred for putting forth a quality effort against another world class pro.
On the internet-televised undercard, fans were treated to a streamed lead-in featuring Victor Ortiz and Kaizer Mabuza and a look at 140 lb. UK prospect, Frankie Gavin.
* On the night of the mini-tournament finals, HBO books a couple of real 140 lb. scorchers as televised prelims: Zab Judah vs. Juan Urango and Lamont Peterson vs. Kendall Holt.
* Boxing’s unified promotional firm and single sanctioning body also join forces to provide some quality TV action worthy of such a quality division:
–Showtime responds to HBO’s quality shows by airing two pure action wars of their own in Ruslan Provodnikov vs. Gavin Rees and Andreas Kotelnik vs. Breidis Prescott with a Mike Dallas Jr. opener.
–ESPN Friday Night Fights broadcasts a Paulie Malignaggi vs. Julio Diaz battle with the winner staying relevant and the loser pretty much going away. Jr. welter prospect, Frankie Gomez kicks off the show.
–On the newly-established Boxing Channel and BoxingChannel.com internet feed, Argentine slugger, Lucas Matthysse takes on division veteran, Herman Ngoudjo, in his native Argentina with light hitting contender, Cesar Cuenca stepping up to test himself against a seemingly rejuvenated DeMarcus Corley on the undercard.
In the UK, Paul McCloskey-Emanuel Augustus would thrill fight fans and give an early indication of where, exactly, McCloskey belongs in the big picture.
The end result of such a mad dash of 140 lb. action would be one true and universally recognized world champion and a clear picture of who, beneath him, are contenders and who are purely pretenders.
The above would represent about six months of action for the jr.welterweight division, but when it’s done and the dust settles, boxing would get to shake things again up by just re-arranging the names and having them all go at it again. Maybe a few new names get sprinkled in and maybe some old veterans get a second shot at stardom, but the division would stay active and fresh.
Now, do this 16 more times, one for each of the sport’s other weight classes, and in no time you’ll have a sport that is once again at the mainstream level.
Fans may be slow to come around after decades of having their intelligence insulted, but they want to believe and will come back in droves if they feel their support is actually appreciated. The formula is simple…Clean up the sport and cut out the politics and the fans will come back. Few sports fans will turn away from a quality prize fight, but boxing’s power brokers have made it hard for all but the most hardcore of fans to keep coming back.
In a perfect world, boxing would eventually find its way back to free, network TV…but I can’t even imagine a perfect world that perfect.
This all may seem like an exercise in pure fiction, maybe even a day dream from the desk of some anonymous internet boxing scribe. But things like this can happen. The sport can turn itself around. Just don’t count on those in control doing it. The fans need to get angry enough to demand change, to demand respect.
Boxing needs its fans to lay the groundwork for a perfect world.
We are the key to boxing reform. The dream is alive if we insist on it.