When Timothy Bradley head-butted his way past Devon Alexander to the unified junior welterweight belt he was asked, as is custom, who he wants to fight next.”Right now I’m aiming for Floyd Mayweather,” he answered. “I think Mayweather is the single best fighter in the world.”
So once again boxing is drawn to one of its magnetic forces, Mayweathar and Manny Pacquiao. The sport must constantly be put into context of the two names that everybody knows. And that’s just one of the many ways this fights emphasised the failing health of the once-proud sport.
Bradley-Alexander was a dud of a fight. It was billed as a marquee matchup, and there was a ton of promotional power behind it. Earlier this week, ESPN’s boxing guru Dan Rafael wrote that “America’s boxing hopes rest with” this bout (because it pit a pair of American pugilists against one another in their prime).
But less than 7,000 fans attended the fight, and, well, America’s hopes were dashed. The boxers spent more time locked in each other’s arms than they did punching. The fight was light on combination attacks and big blows, and heavy on fighters waltzing around the ring, jabs a-waving.
Bradley’s knockout didn’t even come on a punch. Alexander lost on a mere accidental head-butt.
Now, to call for a fight with Mayweather or Pacquiao is short-sighted, and frankly, foolish. What part of last night’s fight made anyone think Bradley was a worthy opponent?
And what evidence from recent history makes anyone think Mayweather or Pacquiao would be willing to fight Bradley?
Mayweather’s fought twice in the last 3+ years; and Pacquiao’s manager, Bob Arum of Top Rank, is only inclined to put his prized fighter in the ring with other Top Rank fighters to maximise his earnings. A Bradley-Mayweather or Bradley-Pacquiao fight simply isn’t going to happen.
And that’s a good thing.
Boxing’s biggest problem is that its very passionate followers pin the hopes of their favourite sport on the latest “must-see” fight. Fans work everyone into a frenzy, claiming that this will be the fight that captures the public’s interest. And this fight inevitably disappoints. Still, in a rush to create the next must-see bout, fans call for the winner to fight one of the few remaining big names. Bradley-Alexander is just the latest to follow this pattern.
Until boxing is content to grow more organically, prepared to match Bradley against his rightful opponent, super lightweight champion Amir Khan, the sport’s health will suffer. The more boxing reaches to please the masses, the more disappointing the fights end up feeling.
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