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What is wrong with ‘running’?

Andre Dirrell David HayeBy Sean Pollock: Boxing- the art of hitting your opponent and avoiding getting hit yourself. It’s a sport we all love which caters for people of all tastes and opinions. Some people like an in-fighter, some people like an out-fighter; whilst some people just like to see two athletes battle it out to establish who is the better man. Personally, I’m inclined towards classy out-fighters who use their speed, intelligence and reflexes to win a fight. For me, watching the Alis’ and Leonards’ of the sport tactically maneuvering their way to victory is a dazzling display of ringsmanship. However, all I seem to read on boxing blogs, articles and boards are peoples negative attitudes towards this style of fighting. People comment, “he will run all night”, “he’s scared, he will run and hide”… but the question I pose is, what is wrong with ‘running’?

I have read people saying that this style of fighting makes the fights ‘boring’, suggesting that these fighters should open up and provide excitement for the fans. Do boxers have a duty to provide fans with a spectacle? Or is the fighters number one objective to get in there and prevail victorious in any way possible? A recent example of criticism of a winning performance is Haye vs Valuev. Many fans slammed Haye’s hit and run style which amounted to roughly ten effective punches per round- but I was less skeptical. When a man has to go into a ring and win the heavyweight title of the world, he should do so by whatever means is successful- and this is what Haye did.

Another fighter under the microscope for his style of fighting is Floyd Mayweather Jnr, for instance, if the super-fight against Manny Pacquiao was to go ahead, hypothetically, would Mayweather be criticized if he fought the contest by ‘running’ and making the fight ‘boring’ for spectators? I think he would. The scrutiny of the evasive style puts the fighter in a no win situation, if he wins the fight by fighting in an illusive manner then he will be criticized for his tactics. And this is exactly why I am confused, shouldn’t people be praising the boxing skills that the fighter used and appreciate that he has won the fight?

Everybody loves a tear-up of gladiatorial proportions, Hagler/Hearns for example and I do not intend on belittling Tyson-esque brawlers, but the sweet science of boxing lies with the skill and elegance of naturally skilled boxers. So I suppose I’m questioning whether boxers have a responsibility to deliver a spectacle to fans… Or does running and winning come top of a fighters conscience?

I hope this article leaves you with something to consider and discuss- Is it really an act of fear to run…or is it simply a display of advanced boxing skills which we should embrace and appreciate?

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