By Liam McInerney
“Boxing is like jazz. The better it is, the less people appreciate it.” George Foreman.
“Mayweather-Pacquiao: Big money, but can it save boxing” read a headline this year. Save boxing? So much debate about our sport emphasizes its flaws and can be ignorant to what is right in the game.
Between 1940 and 1960 Sugar Ray Robinson, Willie Pep and Rocky Marciano graced the ring. Did boxing survive after their retirements? Yes, Muhammad Ali came along with bold statements and became ‘king of the world’. Once his reign ended another Sugar entered the spotlight. Ray Leonard, inspired by Robinson and Ali, fought the best, beat the best and was the best. In the meantime the malevolent ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson has laced gloves as well as the ‘Golden Boy’ Oscar De La Hoya.
When Mayweather and Pacquiao walk back to their dressing rooms for the final time, as history suggests, others will climb inside the ropes, achieve greatness and maintain boxing as one of the world’s greatest sports.
The sweet science does not require rescue. And here are some reasons why boxing is in fact thriving.
Exciting fights continue to exhilarate us. Mentioning the name Jamie Conlan to Irish fight fans will instantly inspire images of his war with Junior Granados.
A Miguel Cotto vs Saúl Álvarez showdown was publicly demanded and in November the biggest fight in boxing is expected to take place. Irish-Boxing has previewed it here http://www.irish-boxing.com/miguel-cotto-vs-saul-alvarez-biggest-fight-in-boxing/
Despite the vast number of divisions, some exceptional weight classes currently exist. A lot of Ireland’s pros are middleweights and Irish-Boxing has examined these fighters http://t.co/P1yn6VXPPS. The most promising is Jason Quigley, gold medal winning amateur and now undefeated professional, who signed with Golden Boy Promotions last year.
Internationally the top ranked welterweight competitors stand out. Any match-up between Timothy Bradley, Amir Khan, Keith Thurman and Kell Brook would capture the world’s attention.
It’s not just the professionals who are prospering. Our amateur’s talents are unmistakable. The team performed marvellously at the European Games in Azerbaijan, picking up nine medals, five of which were gold. Ireland treats its amateur’s as heroes and you can follow their progress at the European Championships from August 7th.
Fans contribute significantly in making the sport special. Whether it is a raucous National Stadium or thousands travelling the globe to watch their favourite athletes compete, their loyalty to boxing is fundamental to its success.
This can be a tough, lonely and serious sport. And to have witty personalities present adds to our enjoyment and accentuates a lighter side. “Did any1 see the state of @DavidPrice_1 suit last night, looked a proper state, mate go buy a proper suit” was a tweet Tyson Fury sent in June.
Boxing is in a healthy position. Consider the stars of tomorrow.
23 year old undefeated Ryan Burnett has the potential to be another Belfast world champion in future. His renowned trainer Adam Booth has tremendous hopes for Burnett. He said: “I have so much conviction in what he can achieve that I am really excited about the journey ahead.”
People relish a heavyweight who revels in knocking people out. Over the next decade England’s Olympic gold medallist Anthony Joshua could ignite the once legendary division.
Many more will dedicate their life to become immortal pugilists with indelible legacies. The systems not perfect and deficiencies are evident, but for now, let’s focus on what we love about boxing.
To reiterate, our sport does not need saving. As Mike Tyson articulated: “The tempt for greatness is the biggest drug in the world.” Who knows when the next Sugar will come along? But galvanized by their icons been and gone, new phenomenon’s will continue to emerge, entertaining generation after generation.