And so, we’ve made it to the end of the year. A year where boxing shamed itself by letting that thug, Mayweather dominate, while the man who has the potential to introduce those hair on the back of your neck moments to a new generation of sports fans, Gennady Golovkin -GGG- has been forced to endure the bullshit politicking of Golden Boy Promotions, amongst others.
Of course, it’s also been a year where Tyson Fury pissed of many a person while deposing the classy, though boring-as-hell Wladimir Klitschko. Meanwhile Andy Lee, our favourite Irish sportsperson, rather devastatingly dropped his WBO middleweight title, somewhat controversially, on his first defence to the talented Billy Joe Saunders. If Lee does not get a rematch, then boxing is no more credible than WWE. This article from Boxing News will explain the current nonsensical nature of boxing for you perfectly. It is almost unconscionable, in a sport built on almost reckless courage, that men are sidestepping Golovkin. All this, while the man who actually wants to fight him has been treated awfully.
The Marvin Hagler Tommy Hearns classic of 1985 was celebrated earlier this year but if you’ve never seen ‘The War’ and you want to see why the 80s were truly the heyday of boxing, then please indulge us. That fight, and the era of the Four King – Hagler, Hearns, Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard – perfectly encapsulate the raw combination of savagery and beauty that only boxing can offer.
The phenomenal success of Conor McGregor this year should finally force boxing into accepting that UFC is not only a threat but also a genuine alternative for fans who are sick of watching overblown build ups to non-events. The 36 minutes of shit between two over-the-hill fighters in Pacquaio and Mayweather was an affront to the regular sagas of days gone by. We’re not champions of UFC and we’ll take boxing every day of the week but to Dana White’s credit he would have made Mayweather Pacquiao happen years ago.
Sorry to harp on about this but we can’t stress enough just how debilitating to boxing the treatment of GGG has been. This man is an incredibly gifted puncher -he was the highest knockout percentage in middleweight boxing history – learning his trade on the streets of the Kazakh, port town of Karaganda. Golovkin is almost an adopted son of Mexican fight fans, who have always loved the fact that their fighters come ready to bang, not to play some depressingly frustrating game of chess.
His critics, and to be fair there are very few at this stage, say that better opponents will take advantage of Golovkin’s overly aggressive style -despite the fact he’s never been knocked – but sadly Oscar De La Hoya won’t let us see if Canelo Alvarez can actually pose these problems. More frustratingly, Billy Joe Saunders, for all his talk won’t go toe-to-toe with Golovkin either.
Andy Lee is a boxer in the truest sense of the word. He has thread a path which may not have lead him to the financial rewards he deserves but he is the only man in world boxing who actively sought a contest with GGG this year. Hand on heart, we think the Kazakh would stop Lee but, it would proffer a rare glimpse into why the middleweight division was not only the most watched boxing division in the 80s but arguably the most popular of all sports.
If Frank Warren, the wily mainstay of boxing promotion, can’t facilitate the Lee-Saunders rematch in either the Point or Thomond Park, then boxing should hang its head in shame. Like Gotham City or electronic music in its current form, boxing has been denigrated and lost its true identity.
Men like Andy Lee, up and coming British heavyweight, Anthony Joshua and the criminally underrated -to non-fight fans- Gennady Golovkin are what boxing is all about. Like the sadly departed Arturo Gatti and the abovementioned Four Kings these men just want to fight and put on a show for the fans. We’re not saying all boxers should be prizefighters, for in contrast there is beauty. And, indeed, Leonard’s career probably germinated the frustratingly brilliant tactics of Floyd Mayweather.
However, if Warren, De La Hoya, Eddie Hearns and the self-serving sycophants of boxing’s four -yes four! – main regulatory bodies want boxing to stay relevant to the wider sporting public, they need to step their game up in 2016 and give the people what they want.