Slipping into darkness

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

Like some of its best fighters, the sport of boxing is stumbling around, desperately trying but ultimately failing to recapture the magic it once possessed.

It's hard for me to say that because I love boxing.

Well, I love the sport. I can't really say the same about the product that they're putting out these days.

Every Friday night, I used to tune in to "Friday Night Fights" on ESPN and almost every Saturday night, HBO would usually air a match with comparable competitors with names that drew anticipation.

Those days weren't that long ago, but they're over now.

The sport is chocked full of guys casual fans have never hear of, and it's hard to get to know them unless you want to buck up $50 to watch them on Pay-per-view.

You hardly ever see free fights anymore.

I understand that Pay-per-view is just the nature of the beast these days. The sports figure--why give our product away for free when we can get more money?

Boxing's major competition, the UFC, does the same.

However, UFC blows away boxing when it comes to marketing their stars and drawing in their youthful and fervent target audience.

President Dana White is a charismatic, polarizing figure that shoots from the hip. People love that--especially in this day and age.

He hypes his fighters and brilliantly sells their matches, and the fans eat it up with spoons and even ask for seconds.

That doesn't happen in boxing.

There is no central figure that can come out and connect with the people and sell the sport.

There are only a bunch of different organizations like the WBA, WBC, IBF and so on that all have their own belts and are often the butts of jokes for their incompetence.

Why should people care about a weight division when there are three and four different champions?

The heavyweight division has always been the lifeblood of boxing. When there were guys like Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis, boxing was at its best.

Unfortunately, the heavyweight division has been in the ICU ever since Lewis retired.

How are Americans supposed to get excited about a heavyweight division that is dominated by Eastern Europeans that have names that no one can pronounce?

How are they supposed to get excited when we have had only two American heavyweight champions in the past 10 years?

If things weren't bad enough, the sport's biggest money-moker, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., decided to fight a guy that no one in the world wants to see him fight.

His decision last week to fight Andre Berto left boxing fans scratching their heads with one hand and putting the other to their mouths as they yawn.

Mayweather claims this will be his final fight. I find it hard to believe he wouldn't fight again to eclipse the great Rocky Marciano and retire a perfect 50-0.

Either way, Berto is the last person he should be fighting. He is just 3-3 in his last six fights.

The decision was a slap in the face to boxing fans that had been clamoring for a bout between he and Amir Kham.

Right now, boxing is fending off the UFC with the drawing power of both Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. As big as the UFC is, their biggest fights haven't been able to outdraw Mayweather and Pacquiao bouts.

Boxing is about to lose those two aces in the hole.

After Pacquiao's loss in a mammothly-disappointing bout with Mayweather, public interest in him was plummeted. The end of his career is near.

And at 38, Mayweather looks to only have one or two matches left in the tank.

When those two leave, who will be left to save boxing? There's no answer in sight.

The UFC is already beginning to win more battles as of late.

For the longest time, Mayweather was largely regarded as the best fighter in the world.

After a string of fights that many saw as "boring" and the emergence of Ronda Rousey in the UFC, Mayweather has begun to lose his luster.

Rousey has quickly become the biggest star in the UFC--male or female--and after winning her last three bouts in a combined 64 seconds, many consider her--regardless of gender--as the best fighter in the world.

Many fans have even said that Rousey could beat Mayweather.

Whether that's true or not, we'll never know.

What we do know is that boxing desperately needs young and captivating heroes to emerge.

But, right now, there aren't any on the horizon, just shadows left behind by the champions that used to make boxing great.