Let’s not beat around the bush here. If you are up in arms about Ring Magazine moving Andre Ward to the top of their pound-for-pound list after Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez’s recent loss to Srisaket Sort Rungvisai, you are probably an idiot.
Really, really…An idiot on so many levels.
First (and perhaps foremost), who the hell cares about Ring Magazine?
So, the nerds at that outdated dinosaur of a publication voted to move around some names on their fantasy world list based on their fantasy world criteria? And you’re taking more than one second to even give it some thought? Shame on you. You might as well be steamed over some pimply virgin’s X-Box Call of Duty campaign.
Second, you are aware that the whole pound-for-pound nonsense is a bunch of crap, anyway… right?
How does any reasonable discussion about the sport’s best fighters start by asking you to rate them based on the illogical premise of “what if they were all the same weight?” Some aspects of a boxer’s game are very specific to their physical tools. Roman Gonzalez and Guillermo Rigondeaux couldn’t really do what they do if they were much larger men; Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev couldn’t do what they do as smaller men. Vasyl Lomachenko as a heavyweight would be the greatest big man of all time; Wladimir Klitschko– with his mindset and overall approach– would make for one extra shitty lightweight.
The whole “assuming they were the same weight” criteria should immediately let you know that nothing intelligent is going to come from this silliness. Why not assume that each has three fists instead of two or that they’re covered in rocks like The Thing from the Fantastic Four? The pound-for-pound debate should set off alarms in the heads of smart fight fans in the same way the Flat Earth conspiracy theorists set off alarms in the heads of anyone with an appreciation of real science.
I’ve been asked to do pound-for-pound lists in the past and have found myself dragged into debates regarding so-and-so’s placement on the imaginary list. I’ll do it if you push me (or pay me), but there’s always a feeling afterwards of “well, that was a total waste of time.”
For the most part, it’s harmless fluff. But there’s a point where the fixation on fantasyland baloney takes away from thought that should be going into the realities of a troubled sport.
Boxing fans tend to be in chronic denial as to the nature of the sport they love and are way-too-often buried in a pathetic mix of overblown nostalgia and desperate wishful thinking. The macho fairytales they tell themselves fail to address the issue that while they’re debating fantasy lists, the actual fighters on those lists are being allowed to slip away into irrelevance. Nobody seems to want to invest any brain power into anything other than the boxing equivalent of South Park’s ‘member berries.
And while boxing fans waste their energy on outrage over pure silliness, reality should be biting them on their asses. In the real world– pound-for-pound icons Chocolatito, Ward, Kovalev, Gennady Golovkin, and Terence Crawford have combined to sell about 370K pay-per-views for their last fights in the United States.
I don’t claim to have any definitive answers regarding boxing’s journey towards irrelevance. However, a major reason for boxing’s slippage is the fans’ disconnect when it comes to reality and what they want to believe about the sport they love. This allows for an ethically compromised and/or flat-out naïve media to manipulate them and, ultimately, for the sport’s power brokers to get away with cashing out for short term benefit at the expense of the long term health of the sport.
Simply put– if fans were more vigilant and pragmatic, there would be real pressure on the movers and shakers to change the business model and structure of the sport so that every event in America catering to American fans wouldn’t be in danger of flatlining.
Even more simply put– People need to stop wasting their time on bullshit and grow up so we can all fight the good fight together and get boxing back to a healthy place.