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Calzaghe-Jones, Pavlik-Hopkins, De La Hoya-Pacquiao: Is Boxing In a Race To The Bottom?

Bernard Hopkins Joe Calzaghe Kelly Pavlik Manny Pacquiao Oscar De La HoyaBy Tony Krebs: Just looking at the current state of boxing now with fighters like Kelly Pavlik facing 43 year-old former champion Bernard Hopkins rather than other more deserving middleweights, undefeated Joe Calzaghe avoiding his top super middleweight opponents to fight a 39 year-old Roy Jones Jr, and then for the kicker of them all, Oscar De La Hoya taking on Manny Pacquiao, a fighter that he outweighs by 25 lbs. There is certainly a great deal of ridicule that has occurred due to these bouts, as it seems to have made a mockery of the different weight classes, removing established weight boundaries, turning things into a state of chaos in which only what brings about the most money seems to count.

Forget about taking on your number one mandatory, these fighters seem to be out for one thing – the most money they can get for a fight. I suppose it wouldn’t matter so much if it didn’t affect other fighters in their weight classes, ones that are being overlooked just so these fighters can get a chance for a big payday. However, I don’t see it as being fair to the other fighters in the division, nor to boxing either. If someone like Kelly Pavlik, the WBC/WBO middleweight champion, is taking on fighters like Hopkins as 170, what happens to other fighters that may have had a chance to show their talent if given the chance against Pavlik?

I know the argument for a fight with Hopkins is that there’s no other popular fighters in the middleweight division for Pavlik to fight, but if he were to expose himself to someone, such as Joe Greene, he’d at least be giving him a chance for a good payday, while at the same time giving him exposure so that he can build up his own resume among boxing fans.

By ignoring these fighters, and dipping into other weight classes, or in the case of Hopkins, fighting old stars on their way out of the sport, it actually causing boxing to stagnate, because newer stars aren’t given a chance to be shown live on television. It’s like sticking with the old at the expense of the new. It may continue to bring money to keep on facing an old washed up fighter like Hopkins or Jones, but eventually they’ll be gone, probably a lot sooner than most people think, and what we’ll have is only a couple of big stars in each division, like Pavlik, but with no one to face.

You can’t keep bringing Jones or Hopkins back, because they’ll end up with brain damage as they get beaten worse and worse every time out. And, like De La Hoya is doing by fighting a fighter much smaller than him with Manny Pacquiao, it sets up fights that are largely unfair and ones which could lead to serious injuries occurring to the smaller fighter. Never mind the fact that both he and Pacquiao will be the same weight on the day of the fight, that’s hog wash. Pacquiao will be a bloated 147 lbs, a fighter artificially pumped up to that weight class.

He won’t have the muscles, tendons or bone structure to fight well at that weight regardless of whether he brings his body into the fight at the weight. He may not risk serious injury against De La Hoya, as he’s well past his prime and have the knockout punch of some of the more fiercer welterweights like Antonio Margarito, but if Pacquiao should somehow win, he might actually think he can compete at this weight and then take a terrible beating at the hands of someone like Margarito or Miguel Cotto. Believe me, he’d be taken apart by either one with ease.

At the same time, by fighters taking on opponents much smaller than them like Pacquiao, it creates the same problem as the one in which fighters are fighting older, washed up ones. Namely, it prevents other more deserving fighters in the weight classes of the champion from getting a shot at the title. What it does in effect is narrow the amount of fighters that are given visibility in boxing, making it smaller and giving it less classification because of fighters moving up and down all the time. Mostly, however, it’s just not fair for the fighters that are being skipped over out of the need to make more money.

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