Monday, July 14, 2008

Boxing's Obscurity: Klitschko vs. Thompson

The heavyweight division of boxing once sported the biggest names in all of sports: Jack Johnson, Joe Lewis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes. These guys were bigger than life, the biggest, baddest MEN on the planet. I would pay top dollar to watch them engage in the "sweet science."

I was often entranced by my father's recounting of the epic Ali-Frazier I battle that he witnessed in New York City back in March 8, 1971. Many still consider the Ali-Frazier fights to be greatest between the two greatest heavyweights of all time. As a little boy, my friends and I would slap box, and argue about who was the best fighter of all time (Ali? Foreman? Frazier? Lewis? Marciano?). As I got older, I would drag my wife along to fight parties, I would host fight nights at my house, paying $50 for pay-per-view, and invite my frat brothers over to watch Mike Tyson demolish some poor soul in the first round.

My, my, my... what pawns itself off as a legitimate sport is now a shadow of its former self. On Saturday night, Wladimir Klitschko (the reigning champ?) took on the top ranked contender named Tony "The Tiger" Thompson, a clumsy, slew-footed tomato can that I'd never heard of of until Saturday night! What HBO Sports billed as a heavyweight boxing match for the title was little more than a blip on the sports radar. You'll get more excitement from a late night replay of a women's fast pitch softball game.

plezWorld wasted a good 90 minutes of my life to witness the most uninspiring heavyweight title fight ever! Heavyweight boxing, once the gold standard of sports, is now eclipsed by the personalities that encompass WWF (fake) wrestling or that mixed martial arts *ish* where the combatants roll around on the mat trading bare knuckled punches to the face (ugh!).

The challenger, Tony Thompson, was a tall, rangy, slo-motion fighter with a mid-section that was about as flabby as mine! WTF! I'm sorry, this brother could've done a couple of hundred crunches for the past six months as he prepared for the biggest payday of his albeit short career. He entered the ring as a relative unknown with a short career that spans less than ten years. His boxing ability is suspect: very little in the way of a jab, lack of a real power punch, no head movement, plodding foot movement (got tripped up twice during the fight), and no second gear to his motor. His appearance was so nonathletic and his demeanor was so lackadaisical, this was one time that I was hoping for the white guy to knock the shit out of the Black guy!

The champ, Wladimir Klitschko, is a tall, muscular, mechanical fighter with abs that were as ripped as Thompson's were flabby. But he is no fun to watch, it's almost as if his trainer - Emmanuel Stewart - has to program into his memory chip exactly what punches to throw and when. I call him a "paint by the numbers" boxer: jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab... okay, now throw your first power punch in the third round! He paints a very drab, monochromatic picture to say the least. Thompson is such an inexperienced fighter with poor mechanics, Klitschko should've dispatched with him in the first or second round... third round tops. Thompson literally hung around as a glorified punching bag until the 11th round of a 12 round fight. The pace of the fight was so horrible, I was sitting in my easy chair wishing it was over, but like a car wreck, I couldn't divert my attention nor could I change the channel. Klitschko has a glass jaw and it would've only taken one good left from Thompson to end the fight on a different note.

If this was the best that heavyweight boxing has to offer, soon these title bouts will be shown on ESPN at midnight in midweek. There was a time when I arranged my entire schedule around a heavyweight bout, last night, I just happened to stumble on it while channel surfing. The answer is never going to be Wladimir Klitschko, any of the guys I mentioned earlier would've knocked this gym rat into next week before the opening bell stopped ringing in your ears. Hmmmm... that would've been fun to see his right foot twitching as he lay prone on the mat after one of Mike Tyson devastating right hooks.

After Ricky Hatton did a disappearing act against Floyd Mayweather on a pay-per-view bout a few months ago, I have sworn off paying extra to watch the product of a hype machine. After last night, I'll have to seriously consider whether it would be too much of a waste of time to even watch boxing at all. Next time, I'll look for the replay of a women's softball game!

For your reading pleasure, I've included a link to Yahoo! Sports coverage of the fight here.


Villager said...

I had the same thoughts when I read about the fight. I was even more surprised to learn that the current champ has defended his title 9 times. Frankly, I don't remember him becoming heavyweight champion of the world.

The Beijing Olympics should bring us an idea of if there are any USA boxers worthy of note for the future of the sport...

peace, Villager

sdg1844 said...

I've been disappointed in boxing for a long time. My uncle raised me up on boxing and I've just lost all interest in it.

Homeland Colors said...

UFC is where its at man. You wanna see a good fight thats where you gotta look.