The Sport of Boxing is in desperate need of an Independent Body
By Mark Louis: Boxing has witnessed many changes through the generations, some for the better, and some for the worse. Like all sports we must move with the times implementing new rules and procedures to keep the brave fighters safe. Unfortunately, with the sweet science, some changes have nothing to do with safety and if you peel away the layers, you will discover the ulterior motives.
Some purists will argue the introduction of the 12 round championship distance was a bad move and that the 15 rounder was sacred, they often cohabit boxing with other sports arguing what would happen if football (soccer) or another popular sport was shortened. Some will counter the argument saying the 15 round distance greatly increased the chances of dehydration and exhaustion.
No one will argue the introduction of the four roped ring was a move in the right direction, at least none of whom were alive when Benny Paret lost his life due to injuries sustained in a televised bout ten days before. In his welterweight clash with Emile Griffith at Madison Square Garden, New York on 1962, during the twelve round a defenceless Paret was trapped between the then three ropes, Griffith launched a vicious assault before referee Ruby Goldstein halted the fight, ultimately to late.
Other changes include the weigh-in, the official weigh in used to take place the day of the fight and with the fierce competition many fighters had to cut a serious amounts of weight to weigh in on the contractual limit (unless your name ends in Mayweather and begins with Floyd).
The official weigh-in changed to the day before the fight, giving fighters a 24 hours grace period, ample time to pack their bodies full of liquids and nutrients. This was a double edged sword as come the night of the fight some fighters came in way over the weight, and on occasion we had a guy weighing 150 pounds fighting for the light welterweight title.
As these changes were happening it made it increasingly difficult to quantify a fighters worth, it made it almost impossible to compare one fighter with another from a previous era, something we boxing fans do often. Archie Moore would have considered a 12 rounder a cake walk.
If Henry Armstrong who was moving down from welterweight had a 24 hour grace period between weigh-in and fight he may have been able to replenish his body and not lost his lightweight battle with Lou Ambers at the Yankee Stadium in 1939.
Then came the most destructive change of all, the introduction of the intermediate divisions along with multiple organisations who all claimed their man was the world champion. This move diluted the sport and boxing was on life support, but thankfully, the sport had many great fighters who were all too willing to step through the ropes competing against the best their division had to offer. This kept boxing alive, because in truth nothing else matters, not the economy, not the politics. So long as we have fighters laying it out between the ropes and creating a buzz, then the fans will tune in.
The modern era we have the catch weight, again how would Henry Armstrong have fared against the great Sugar Ray Robinson if Homicide Hank had requested Robinson shed a few pound so they could meet at a catch weight. Again, I’m not a fan of the catch weight, but if it gives us great fights then so be it.
Today we live in a sad era where most promoters are more interested in their business model and DO NOT give a dam about the sport, guilty parties include Top Rank and Golden Boy who have repeatedly matched their fighters in-house, denying fans the best fights in any particular division.
To further explain how far today’s fighters are removed from reality, it was reported that Alfredo Angulo recently turned down a $750,000 offer to face the reigning Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. Now, considering Martinez who is an excellent boxer but does not enjoy a massive support the $750,000 figure seems a realistic one. But “Perro” believes it’s he who brings the majority of the crowd, therefore he should enjoy the bigger slice of the pie. To my knowledge, this figure would be Angulo’s biggest pay check to date, but ironically, he walks away.
Gone are the days where the coveted and sacred middleweight title is incentive alone, both Marvin Hagler, Bernard Hopkins and many before them would have fought for nothing to have the opportunity to fight for the middleweight title.
Follow Mark Louis @ theboxinghistorian.com