Sitting next to my Dad watching Larry Holmes devoir the heavyweight division still ranks up there as some of my fondest memories of childhood. Boxing, almost more than any other sport, has a history and a lineage that would be passed from one generation to the next. My Dad did it with me and now I sit with that history knowing it is going to rot away and fall far from this tree- never to be enjoyed again. My son couldn’t tell you the name of one professional fighter. Hell, he couldn’t tell you a fighter besides Muhammad Ali. Is that my fault? Perhaps. However, I blame boxing.
In this age of pay per view, boxing just doesn’t seem to understand that very few care. I haven’t payed for a professional fight since Mike Tyson fought (bit) Evander Holyfield. The personalities just aren’t there any more to make me want to watch. Well, I’ll take that back. I just don’t know the personalities. Manny Pacquiao is considered the best pound for pound fighter with a great story that nobody knows. The heavyweight division seems like a prehistoric age that went extinct long ago. Who are they?
The last time I remotely knew a fighter was when watching the Contender on television. Yes, I’ll admit to that. People are drawn to personalities and want to have some kind of connection to them. Because fights are only on pay per view these days that connection has been broken, if not shattered into a million pieces. Mixed martial arts (MMA) is the hottest sport going right now. Why? Because, I will argue, we know the personalities. Their stories are compelling and, beyond the action of the sport, help to draw us in. They used reality television as a vehicle to get their fighters out there and now have overtaken boxing in many ways.
Boxing needs to give us a reason to watch again. I either want to like a boxer or hate him like I did Roberto Duran. One thing is for certain, I need to KNOW him. When that happens I’ll desperately try and breathe some life into this dried up, rotted fruit and see if my son will take a bite. It’ll be a hard sell, he’s not a big eater.