It’s Not That Boxing’s Dying, It’s Just That Boxing Coverage Is Deaf To Its Vital Heartbeat

I want to second much of what SC at Bad Left Hook said about this column by Dan Wetzel. Wetzel argues that the difference between boxing and mixed martial arts is that MMA has “major fights” and boxing doesn’t. As SC answers, boxing has had plenty of major fights — especially over the last year or so — it’s just that the news coverage of the sport by outsiders is so rote and monotonous that it’s like no one can even be bothered with research. And when there is a big fight, the mainstream media mostly ignores it, in favor of the things Wetzel points out, things like Mike Tyson’s weight gain. To help Wetzel and his ilk out, I’m providing below a list of a few “major fights” in boxing since March of 2007. He cites the fact that the #2 and #3 pound-for-pound fighters in MMA will soon fight one another. Awesome! I’m sure there are lots of cool fights like that in MMA, and that’s great. I don’t follow it much, although I do understand there are a number of rival companies that sometimes prevent the best from fighting the best. Here’s boxing’s best for Wetzel of late, in alphabetical order (and only two of ’em feature Floyd Mayweather, whose retirement allegedly left “the boxing game smarting at the sucker punch,” which is a silly idea): Bernard Hopkins – Winky Wright: This one featured two Hall-of-Famers and two top-10 pound-for-pound greats, fighting at 170 lbs. Bernard Hopkins – Joe Calzaghe: Again, two Hall-of-Famers and top-5 pound-for-pound greats. Calzaghe was the best super middleweight (168 lbs) at the time. Hopkins was the best light heavyweight (175 lbs). Cristian Mijares – Alexander Munoz: Mijares-Munoz unified a pair of title belts at 115 lbs. and featured the #1 junior bantamweight versus the #3 junior bantamweight. David Haye – Enzo Maccarinelli: Haye-Mcaccarinelli also unified a pair of title belts, at cruiserweight (200 lbs.), and it was considered the biggest all-British fight in about 15 years or so. Floyd Mayweather – Ricky Hatton: Mayweather was the #1 pound-for-pound fighter at the time, and Hatton was in some people’s top 10. Mayweather was the top welterweight (147 lbs.) and Hatton the top junior welter (140 lbs). Floyd Mayweather – Oscar De La Hoya: The biggest money fight of all time pitted the world’s best active boxer against the world’s most famous. Israel Vazquez – Rafael Marquez I-III: The world’s best bantamweight (118 lbs.) and the world’s best junior featherweight (122 lbs.) fought three times in 2007 and 2008. Vazquez currently stands as the top junior featherweight, Marquez as the #2 junior featherweight. Both are pound-for-pound top-10 boxers. They produced one of the greatest trilogies of all time. Ivan Calderon – Hugo Cazares: Calderon and Cazares are considered the two best little fighters (108 lbs.) around. Joe Calzaghe – Mikkel Kessler: The clear #1 (Calzaghe) and #2 (Kessler) at super middleweight fought before a crowd of 50,000+ to unify their title belts. Juan Manuel Marquez – Marco Antonio Barrera: This one featured two more top-10 pound-for-pounders squaring off at junior lightweight (130 lbs). Kelly Pavlik – Jermain Taylor I-II: The top middleweight (160 lbs.) and his top challenger switched positions in two fights over 2007 and 2008. Manny Pacquiao – Juan Manuel Marquez II: Pacquiao and Marquez were two of the top-5 pound-for-pound boxers on the planet. They were the top two junior lightweights. Miguel Cotto – Shane Mosley: Two of the top-10 pound-for-pound best squared off in boxing’s best division, selling out Madison Square Garden and forcing MSG to open up the mezzanine for the second time in 2007 for a Cotto fight. Vladimir Klitschko – Sultan Ibragimov: Klitschko-Ibragimov was a heavyweight title unification fight, the first in around a decade. Post-script: That’s not even including fights that were good but featuring fighters lower in the pound-for-pound universe or only near the top of their divisions. Some of the fights I mentioned above were good, but made little money. Some of those fights were bad, but made plenty of money. Either way, the sport had one of its all-time best years in 2007, and most believe its stretch around March of 2008 was one of the finest individual months of the sport in about a decade. For more on that, read here and here. Boxing shouldn’t get cocky; it’s still got a lot of problems, and one of them is that it can’t seem to get the message through to the mainstream media about all its great fights, when they happen. But these days, relatively few fights that feature the best against the best slip through the cracks. Mayweather himself was at the center of one of those episodes, since he never got interested in facing Cotto. Wanna see something Mr. Wetzel? Circle July 26 on your calendar. I can pretty much bet that anyone who sees Cotto-Antonio Margarito will tell his or her friends about it. And if the mainstream media covers it, maybe it’ll become a “major fight.”

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.