Everyone is already aware that the golden age of boxing is long behind us. The iconic men who once carried the sport to new heights are now ghosts along with the nearly extinct mainstream dynamic that once warranted weekly national television broadcasts.
Today boxing has become the ugly stepsister of American sports and one must only view the career of Floyd Mayweather Jr. to confirm this reality.
The narrative is especially sad because, the truth is, Mayweather is not the problem with the sport. Unfortunately, Mayweather is one of the greatest boxers in history who will never be given proper acclaim due to the perception that he dominated an insufficiently talented era of boxing.
However, the talent of Mayweather’s opponents has nothing to do with his deflated legacy. Boxers have been boxing since before records were kept. The idea that a group of world-class athletes in the 21st century suddenly fell below par is foolish. The only thing that fell below par in the world of boxing is boxing itself.
I’m not prepared to make this a sermon on why boxing would benefit from a singular governing body. But it’s worth noting that enumerating the organizations which sanction world championship bouts without a written list handy is nearly impossible. This is one of the main contributors to why the championship belts have become obsolete and, before we cover any more ground on the matter of championships, they are clearly good for sports.
Every professional sport honors a champion and it is not because they are acting on good nature nor do they care about any specific achievement. Leagues appoint champions solely because they are good for ratings and therefore profitable to the establishment. Boxing was lifted to its most popular heights on the backs of great championship feuds. One of the reasons why Mayweather owns an underwhelming legacy is because of his lack of championship zest.
After all, Mayweather is notorious for being stripped of his titles because he did not care to pay the fee required of its owner. Imagine the Golden State Warriors returning the Larry O’Brien Trophy because they chose to avoid an expense.
Boxing’s deficiencies do not end with its scattered championship appointing system. The most mortal flaw in the sport is the lack of structure– fight scheduling and an inability to enforce fruitful arrangements being the two biggest.
For example, Mayweather should have fought Manny Pacquiao long before the fight actually happened but no one had the authority to force the fight into existence. Instead, two independent parties were left alone to quarrel over details that required arbitration. Moreover, Mayweather actually has a list of highly talented opponents but he only faced most of them once because he felt a rematch wouldn’t be the most profitable avenue.
This may be true, but given that Mayweather fights a less than aesthetically pleasing defensive style, mandated rematches with select fighters would have done both the sport and Mayweather long term good. Understandably, Mayweather will act in his own self-interest with no governing body to supervise him. It’s no mystery why he has elected to market his career as one of a true marksman sniping targets en route to a perfect record.
With no significant rivalry or championship pursuit to aid Mayweather’s appeal, public perception has deemed the fighter’s mastery as monotonous. The storyline of brilliance has been reduced to the mere calculating of Mayweather’s financial assets. How much money? How many cars? The tale of the legendary fighter only recently reached new lows when he agreed to fight a man nearly half his age who competes in a different art of combat. The fight itself is not what sunk the supremely talented fighter but rather the disgusting nature of the fight promotion which has largely devalued the sport of boxing.
Mayweather and Conor McGregor’s crossover superfight promotional tour has mercifully come to an end and we are now one step closer to another monotonous Mayweather exhibition in tactical dominance. This will be yet another item for the downward trending commodity known as the sport of boxing.
Unfortunately, Mayweather’s underwhelming victory will not alter his bland legacy nor will it do anything to revive a sport which has already been forced into submission.