Fighters scared of losing their “0” or others scared to compete against them?
By Jamie Hesford: There was a time when mandatory challenger meant something. These days fighters find ways to worm their way out of the big fights to protect their unbeaten record. We see time and time again the best avoiding each other.
It is damaging for the sport and its rare nowadays that we see an even fight. Only on special occasions do we see a spectacle that involves two world title holders battle it out to unify the division. Main events on cards are no longer the fight of the night because it usually features a heavy favorite beating up a lesser opponent. Fights like Bernard Hopkins v Tavoris Cloud and Tim Bradley v Manny Pacquiao do not happen often enough. But who is to blame? The boxer with the “0” or the challenger?
Its easy to point the finger at the unbeaten fighter for not fighting the boxers at the top level, but could it be that nobody wants to fight the best? There are easier routes for up and comers. There are too many belts in my opinion leading to the “world champion” being shared by up to four boxers in each division. When forced to fight each other they have several options. To either vacate the title and have a lengthy spell out, move up or down in weight or actually fight. For some reason the excuses have been accepted and are no longer frowned upon. However I think its time for this to change.
Cherry picking opponents is becoming more common, even for unestablished boxers. For example when Kell Brook fought Carson Jones, he was the big favorite before hand and in the end struggled. Sure enough he was armed with excuses, but what angered me was the fact that rather than climb up the ladder further he took a step back and fought an easy opponent in Hector Saldivia. Ironically when he eventually fights Devon Alexander I will be rooting for Alexander because of his willing to lay his unbeaten record on the line against also unbeaten Tim Bradley. This is just an example, but these padded records need to stop. Too much credit is being given for these meaningless wins because 40-0 looks good.
On the other end of the scale we can look at already beaten fighters unwilling to take on the best in fear of losing again? There isn’t much evidence to support this because the evidence against the unbeaten fighters is pretty damning. Besides, once a boxer does lose that special “0” the market opens up and then you get a good run of big fights. A sense of freedom in having nothing to protect. Such as Kelly Pavlik, he has always fought at the top level and never shirked anybody. A boxer who does nor fear defeat is something that should be praised.
Until things do change we can be thankful for the few even main events per year that we do get. Roll on March 30 (Rios v Alvarado) and April 20 (Alvarez v Trout).