As fight fans, there’s a lot we overlook.
We regularly deal with poor marketing, lousy matchmaking, and the stifling of the sport’s best fights while having our pockets picked for every last consumer dime we have.
In recent months, we’ve even been told by boxing’s two biggest promotional companies that: 1) We BETTER buy this pay-per-view or they won’t bother putting on good shows anymore and 2) We, as fans, “can go fuck” ourselves.
We are the battered spouses of the sports world, watching as our bloated abuser eats a steak at the kitchen table and burps slovenly– So starved for affection and satisfaction that we settle for any miserable attention that comes our way.
But of all the things we tolerate as boxing fans, the most depressing realization is that, frankly, many of our best and brightest young stars, literally, can’t box.
We got a taste of it over the weekend as Canada’s superstar-in-the-making, David Lemieux, proved that he was utterly clueless as to how to deal with someone who wouldn’t just crumble at his feet.
Then we saw the beast, and the subject of countless, “He’s comin’ for the world” articles, James Kirkland, get the “Mandingo” beat out of him by Nobuhiro Ishida, a guy who got out-boxed by Rigoberto Alvarez in his last contest and, coming in, looked about as intimidating as a Hello Kitty backpack.
Also, if we’re being real about it, would anyone be marveling at the performance of Erik Morales Saturday night if Marcos Maidana had some minimal sense of defense or the ability to throw a straight punch? Morales showed what can be done when just a little bit of boxing skill meets an irresistible force. And what does it say about Amir Khan when a 34-year old former featherweight puts in a better, more complete performance than a 24-year old Olympic wunderkind?
But last weekend wasn’t the only case of clearly evident declining standards.
How about Bernard Hopkins completely stumping Jean Pascal with little more than a head feint and some basic gym-honed timing? Mind you, Pascal was a top-rated super middleweight and was regarded by all as the #1 light heavyweight in the world at the time the 46-year old Hopkins schooled him.
Or how about Adrien Broner, who looks and acts like a boxing stylist, but couldn’t find the opening to actually hit Daniel Ponce de Leon, the owner of one of boxing’s sloppiest, most “counterable” offenses?
I could go on and on…Daniel Jacobs getting starched by Dmitry Pirog, Anthony Peterson freezing vs. Brandon Rios, Victor Ortiz, etc…
Hell, even many of the established, respected stars have a less-than-stellar skill set. As a matter of fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find any active fighter, under the age of 30, with a truly solid set of fundamentals.
Believe me, I’m not one of those, “Everything was better in my era” guys, but it’s painfully obvious that there’s something missing from this current crop of fighters.
Maybe it’s the gradual disappearance of real trainers, maybe it’s the lousy amateur system that has turned fighting into fencing, maybe it’s the restricted diet of horrendous soft touches that young fighters get fed. Whatever it is, the product is suffering and, at this rate, the old guys will never be retired by the next crop of fighters. The fact of the matter is that old school boxing fundamentals work– That’s why the veterans busted their asses for years to learn them.
In so many instances, what we have now is just a notch above the flailing, bum fight technique used in UFC stand up, but there’s really no quick solution to the problem, is there? I guess we’ll just have to add this to the list of things fight fans are asked to silently tolerate.
Piggies at the Trough
Welcome to a new semi-regular feature of the Monday Rant, dedicated to revealing those members of the boxing media who desperately suck at the engorged, trembling teet of promoters, publicists, and managers.
This week we look at boxing’s most neutered boxing “journalist,” Doug Fischer of Ring Magazine and RingTV.com.
Anyone who still has respect for Fischer and trusts his words must not have the internet because this guy, a pioneer in the world of internet boxing coverage, has become little more than a promotional tool for Golden Boy. Through his gig at Ring Magazine’s website and his announcing jobs for Golden Boy shows, the guy has become the Billy Mays of the boxing media, hawking Golden Boy fighters and bouts as if he got a piece of the action.
Those who watched the internet-televised undercard for the Action Heroes PPV on Saturday got treated to Fischer’s insightful color commentary, like: “Buy it now,” “This card is stacked,” “Upsets happen all the time.”
Fischer had been known as one of the most opinionated and ego-driven boxing scribes around. If there’s still any spark left from the old flame, this blatant shilling must be killing him inside. I can only hope that he’s getting a nice chunk of change.
I wonder how much a boxing writer’s soul goes for these days.
You can email Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/boxing BTBC or check him out as he skillfully molds a Shakira love doll from some soda bottles and a used tire on his Justin TV channel. Paul is a full member of the Burger King Kid’s Club.