Boxing Is Alive & Well

By Thad Moore on December 1, 2016
Boxing Is Alive & Well
Fans have proven that they will continue to support the sport through thick and thin.

Boxing is here to stay. Much like any other sport, it has its stumbles, but the sport itself is too strong to wither away and die…

Boxing is alive and well. The doubters have been out in full force in 2016 with cries that boxing is dead. We keep hearing that there are no big names or marquee fights or that UFC has taken away the sport’s fans.

This is such a familiar refrain. Almost like clockwork, each and every year, we hear that boxing is struggling and is on its last legs. There are too many bad decisions, it cannot compete with other sports, let alone its own sport, which was better in years past. These descriptions are completely inaccurate and do not reflect the will of the boxing public.

One has to look no further than the biggest men in the sport to find numerous examples of its resilience.

Prior to full integration in sports, heavyweight champion Jim Jeffries refused to defend his title against deserving challenger Jack Johnson based on his skin color. In fact, Johnson had been fighting on the black boxing circuit, unable to even spar with unwilling white pugilists. Many cried that having a black heavyweight champion would spell doom for boxing. “The Galveston Giant” encountered racial epithets, was spat upon and called the most vile of names. People were bothered by his choice of dating partners and lavish lifestyle. Johnson was actually arrested for transporting a white woman across state lines.

Johnson, whose parents were ex-slaves, eventually was granted a title bout against champion Tommy Burns. Johnson wrested away his belt and was titleholder for five more years. He became a trailblazer whose grit and determination in the face of unimaginable hatred set the stage for other black fighters to follow.

Boxing persevered.

When Rocky Marciano retired, many in the fight game thought that the division was headed backward. After all, Marciano was often able to win coming from behind, in spectacular fashion.

Marciano defeated Jersey Joe Walcott and Ezzard Charles twice, Archie Moore, and a well-past his prime Joe Louis. “The Brockton Blockbuster” defended his belt six times, winning five by knockout. He is still the only heavyweight champion to retire unbeaten.

Sonny Liston came on the scene after Marciano and was a very good champion with two wins each over Cleveland Williams and Floyd Patterson, as well as triumphs over Zora Folley and Eddie Machen, eventually giving way to an Olympic champion named Cassius Clay, who defeated him twice. Clay, of course became Muhammad Ali, and went on to become one of the greatest fighters of all time.

Boxing persevered.

Ali’s remarkable run saw him fight in arguably the division’s best decade in history. The 1970’s featured Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Ken Norton, and others. Ali fought three memorable contests with both Frazier and Norton whose historical significance has been well documented. His upset over Foreman remains one of the biggest in boxing history.

Not only was “The Louisville Lip” a remarkable fighter, but he stood for what he believed in including opposition to the Vietnam War. Ali transcended sports television and set a different bar for pre-fight hype leading up to each ring battle. Today, much of what we see at press conferences are a result of boxers attempting to generate enthusiasm by putting on a show to gain interest in their upcoming matches. However, Ali was not contrived or forced, as his charisma created genuine excitement about what was to come.

How could the sport survive the end of this era?

Cue Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran.

Boxing persevered.

The Four Kings all fought each other taking part in superfights throughout the 1980’s. In between 147 and 175 pounds, all of these Hall of Famers engaged in memorable bouts.

Leonard fought Duran three times, Hearns twice, and Hagler once. Duran fought Leonard three times, Hearns, and Hagler once. Hearns fought Leonard twice, Duran, and Hagler once. Hagler fought Leonard, Hearns, and Duran once. Fight fans still talk about who really won between Leonard and Hagler. They discuss Hearns’ right hand delivered to Duran as one of the best one-punch stoppages in history. They talk about “The War” that was Hagler-Hearns and that amazing first round. They marvel at how unbelievable the first Leonard-Hearns bout was and Sugar Ray’s remarkable comeback.

There was no posturing, or fighting at catchweights, or not agreeing to fight over money. None of these great champions allowed anything, but their desire to be the best, to win out.

Boxing persevered.

Why don’t we fast forward to 2016? It has been an ever-popular year to proclaim that boxing is dead.

We hear that UFC is now king, and that boxing cannot survived its popularity.
Boxing fans have proven that they will continue to support the sport through thick and thin. They will shout from the rooftops at boxing’s best moments, quality matches, and top fighters and complain about the bad decisions and poor matchmaking. The sport is not a fad and has existed since “The Queensberry Rules” were published in 1867. There is nothing to suggest that the sport is deteriorating in any way, shape, or form.

Boxing persevered.

This year has been a special one for “The Sweet Science.” To say that there are no big names or marquee fights right now is disingenuous. We have had several outstanding Fight of the Year candidates. Orlando Salido-Francisco Vargas, Carl Frampton-Leo Santa Cruz, and Keith Thurman-Shawn Porter each stand on their own. We just had two of the five best pound-for-pound battlers in the world go head to head. The close, controversial nature of Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev has only brought additional discussion to “The Sweet Science.” Everyone involved in the sport cannot wait to see what happens in a likely rematch.

The future is looking bright, as well. 2017 is set up to have a strong first quarter of activity. Super middleweight champions Badou Jack and James Degale will go head to head in January. The anticipated rematch of Fight of the Year candidate between featherweights Frampton and Santa Cruz will also take place in January. In March, a welterweight unification match between Thurman and Danny Garcia will also be on tap.

Boxing is here to stay. Much like any other sport, it has its stumbles, but the sport itself is too strong to wither away and die. The boxing fan will always be here to support it and complain about it. The true beauty of ‘The Sweet Science” is what happens inside the squared circle when two combatants go toe to toe to decide the outcome of each fight. The opportunity that the sport offers at its core is a boxing gym with equipment, training, and the opportunity to learn the nuances that yes, “The Queensberry Rules” set down 149 years ago.

The allure of boxing is perhaps best summarized by noted historian Joyce Carol Oates. “More than any other human activity it (boxing) consumes the very excellence it displays. Each boxing match is a story, a unique and highly condensed drama without words.”

Boxing perseveres.

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  1. Matt Atwater 07:42am, 12/08/2016

    The game has a lifeblood all its own. It attracts by mystery and implodes with thunder. It excites and frightens and beautifies and destroys. Boxing will endure for the ages. It has a present, a glorious past and ever present everlasting future. Long live the sweet science.

  2. Koolz 02:26pm, 12/03/2016

    I mean with all this Great Boxing it’s time to Celebrate!
    Have fun ladies and Gentlemen.

  3. Koolz 02:08pm, 12/03/2016

    Boxing is So Alive!

    Samuel Peter Vs Kubrat Pulev

  4. Koolz 01:25pm, 12/03/2016

    Lebedev vs Gassiev lived up to the hype
    Great fight!
    GGG in the audience!

  5. Koolz 01:22pm, 12/03/2016

    Shfikov vs Commey

  6. Koolz 01:20pm, 12/03/2016

    Rakhim Chakhkiev vs Maksim Vlasov
    When you have lot’s of power but you fight to square look at he is boxing…

  7. Koolz 01:06pm, 12/03/2016

    has to be one of the biggest upsets!

  8. Koolz 12:40pm, 12/03/2016

    I am loving this Russian Card!  Sanchez vs Roach was damn exciting fight!
    you guys getting this!

    Great Card!

  9. Lucas McCain 06:18pm, 12/02/2016

    Boxing has been said to be “on the ropes” ever since I started following it (in 1959, just after Floyd-Ingo I).  In part it’s because of the guilt (often justified) writers and fans alike feel about their fascination with it.  But as you note, it perseveres, part of our strange species.

  10. Moon Man 11:25am, 12/02/2016

    Hey Koolz, You should learn the difference between your and you’re before calling someone an idiot. PRICELESS. haha.

  11. Koolz 10:57am, 12/02/2016

    Moon-man your an idiot.
    I can’t even reply to your stupid comment on fighting.

  12. Moon-man 07:13am, 12/02/2016

    Koolz…MMA is not boxing. Of course no MMA fighter is going to have a pair of hands like a top pro boxer, although some like Vitor Belfort weren’t that bad. While a MMA fighter wouldn’t do well in a boxing ring against a top pro, we have seen what some boxers, albeit past their primes, have done in MMA. Hard to learn how to be a great boxer when you have to learn multiple disciplines. MMA has declined somewhat in popularity as well, but it is still better off than boxing IMO.

  13. Moon-man 07:02am, 12/02/2016

    In 1979 when Ali announced his first retirement, things really weren’t that bleak at all. Ray Leonard was already moving forward and would later take on Benitez that same year in a good scrap for the welterweight title. The light heavyweight division was awesome and one of boxing’s best fights of the decade between Matthew Franklin & Marvin Johnson was shown on live network television. The “Rocky” movie sequels in later years certainly helped promote boxing as well. Franklin aka Saad, deserves just as much credit as the “Four Kings.” His memorable title reign only lasted a couple of years but he had some truly remarkable fights. There was no dry period at all. The following year in 1980, you had the Duran-Leonard superfight, Hagler would capture the middleweight title, and the epic Saad-Yaqui matchup. No way was the period after Ali’s retirement that bad at all. The heavyweight scene wasn’t great,  but boxing as a whole was doing pretty good, especially in the light heavyweight and welterweight divisions. Also we had the “little giants” Wilfredo Gomez & Salvador Sanchez. The public was also interested in following the careers of the ‘76 Olympic team members like the Spinks brothers, John Tate, Ray Leonard, Howard Davis Jr and Leo Randolph.

  14. Koolz 05:06am, 12/02/2016

    Not sure how UFC, MMA, etc can be king none of those guys can even stop one punch.  The fights always start so far away due to legs being involved for distance, kicking.  Then turn into grappling at short distance.
    I remember the PRIDE days!  Now those were good times!
    I don’t see any UFC fighter ever beating a top boxer at boxing.  UFC these guys allow themselves to take crazy punishment. 
    As it is even with the black eyes to boxing, I think the sport is doing fine.

  15. The Thresher 10:54am, 12/01/2016

    Not in New York

  16. Moon-man 09:47am, 12/01/2016

    I betcha mom is sad. Even in the animal kingdom, nothin’ tops a mother’s love. It’s funny how a lot of people don’t have much love for coyotes, wolves and foxes, but love dogs?? I mean, what the hell?? I know coyotes might kill the family critters every now and then, and wolves are wolves, but they are just staying true to their nature.

  17. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:39am, 12/01/2016

    @Moon-man-Driving on I 40 yesterday near the Colorado River in AZ….two roadkill coyote pups just off the road. Looks like mom made it across but not the babies….kinda’ sad.

  18. Moon-man 09:19am, 12/01/2016

    Irish…I love boxing, but I just call it like I see it. Of course, I might “see it” differently than others. I’m rooting for boxing to make it, but unless another Ali comes on the scene or it does a complete 180 turn, I can’t see it happening. However, I would love to be proven wrong, I fell in love with boxing as a little tyke during Frazier-Ali I.

  19. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:12am, 12/01/2016

    @Moon-man-If you’re not careful you’re gonna’ get kicked out of the ATTABOY Club!

  20. Moon-man 06:56am, 12/01/2016

    Have to disagree here. Boxing somehow has hung on, but the last time it could even remotely be considered a major sport, at least in America, some guy named, Holyfield held the heavyweight championship. Also in the past, boxing didn’t have to square up against MMA, which arguably offers a better product. The average non-sports fan of today probably couldn’t name one world title holder in any weight class in boxing, and the average sports fan, who doesn’t follow boxing, might could give you two or three at best. And as long as the Eastern Europeans continue to make it big in boxing, networks like ESPN, will push boxing to the back burner, all because of racial bias and politics.

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