Convicted Artist Magazine

Feb 24th
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boxing promoters promotionsIf only we knew how good we had it in the 70s and 80s.  I hear this a lot.  From the old timers, they may talk with longing for the 40s and 50s.  The 80's is the era for which I came of age in boxing.  1985 to be exact.  We took for granted that of course the best would fight each other, and of course, we would all be able to see it.  Tyson fought everyone except Page and Witherspoon from his era.  Hearns, Duran, Leonard, Hagler, all fought each other.  However, our times are not as different as we think.
Maybe in action and a drama, there has been a drop in the 147-54 stars, but as far as the best fighting each other... Oscar fought everyone, even those who would not fight each other.  Vargas, Quartey, Mosley, Trinidad, Whittaker, etc.  If Mayweather and Pacquiao fight, they will however, have completed another circle.  This circle that includes Mosley and Cotto will be the same as the big 4 of the 80s.  It may have taken longer, and been largely void of knockouts, but it will have happened.  We are just privy to more of the nonsense behind the scenes, and it makes it seem like forever to get a deal done.
As far as the 70's go, Foreman vs. Lyle was a brawl, but so was the second Arreola-Stiverne fight.  Fury-Cunningham, too.  And Foreman had been idle for 15 months prior to that fight.  Ali may have kept his title for 3 1/2 years in the late 70's, but except for the Thrilla in Manila, most of those fights were snoozers.  Close snoozers, too.  Say what you want about Klitschko's dominance, but at least he usually gives us a great knockout, and wins almost every round on the way.
The prospect of network TV coming back is a big deal, but don't forget that closed circuit was another PPV-like headache that charged for big fights, and it's been around for a lot longer.  Most of the big fights were not on network TV, and that trend started a heck of a lot sooner than the mid 90s when network TV abandoned boxing altogether.  If you want to blame someone, blame all the death and loss of stars in 1982, combined with cable TV raising their game.  NBC could not do it better than ESPN or HBO, and they knew it.
Also, it is annoying that fighters only fight 2x a year, if that.  Yet, remember that by the mid 80's, Hagler was fighting only once a year.  This problem was even worse in the 30s, with the heavyweight title only being contested once a year.  Sure, guys like Greb and Armstrong fought 2x a month, but most were against hapless victims.  Jack Dempsey defended the title only 4 times in 7 years.  Braddock didn't defend his title for 2 whole years!  Talk about frustrating.  Again, a quick look through history lets us know that it is not all so different... maybe we are just watching the pot too much.

Chris Strait

photo by Steven Arredondo

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