Monday, March 16, 2015

Requiem for a Light Heavyweight and a Remission for Boxing

Despite the fact that the promoter Al Haymon is bringing boxing back to primetime TV (“Is Boxing Dead, Some are Betting Heavily That It Isn’t," NYT, 3/5/15), boxing has become a moribund sport. Sure there's anticipation about the upcomng Mayweather/Pacquiao fight. But there are a distinct lack of mythic and semi-mythic figures like Ali, Foreman, Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Robinson and Rocky Marciano and one tires of hearing about Mayweather’s girls and cars. The days of famous conflagrations like Gotti and Ward and Hagler and Hearns are for the most part gone. Those who need to gratify the urge for gladiatorial brutality, watch the MMA fights. But every once and a while you see a great fight. There were two recently. The middleweight fight between Gennady Golovkin and Martin Murray was the kind of test of the human spirit that sometimes ends in tragedy. Golovkin was the stronger fighter, but Murray refused to give up and it’s hard for a ref to stop a fight, no matter how much punishment a fighter is taking, when the fighter is returning punches. In the case of Murray, he was not only returning, but returning with impressive combinations. In other words, the Murray/Golovkin match was good old fashioned brawl. A similar situation happened again on HBO Saturday night. The fight, which took place in Montreal, had the iconic ring announcer saying “mesdames et messieurs” rather than his usual “ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to rumble!" Jean Pascal, a Haitain Roy Jones protégé, who looks and acts like his mentor was up against a Russian named Sergey Kovalev, with a reputation for being mean in and out of the ring. Kovalev scored a knock down in the third round, but Jean Pascal wouldn’t give up. The fight for the Light Heavyweight title was finally stopped in the 8th round, but not before a rather remarkable exchange in which Kovalev slipped just after he connected with Pascal. If it hadn’t been a testament to the human spirit, the choreography would have looked like something out of a Popeye cartoon. How many times do you get to see a fighter going down after himself connects with a pair of lethal punches.

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