*Excuse the pun, but how many more body blows can the sport of boxing take? Welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather is headed to jail for three months for a domestic violent incident – a sentence that threatens to derail the only captivating storyline in this completely star-crossed sport.
It’s hard to imagine a time when boxing was really relevant in the American sporting consciousness. The old heavyweight class, the class of Ali and Foreman and Holmes and Tyson, has all but disappeared. The death of that class took away boxing’s real place in the sporting culture, the one dominated by those larger-than-life men like Tyson and Ali, where boxers transcended the sport to become icons.
Instead, we’re left with the interesting, flawed men of the welterweight division, personalities that provide good headlines and brief moments of relevance – but don’t have the pure magnetic power that their heavier predecessors did.
The Mayweather – De La Hoya fight from 2008 provided the sport a brief spark, but the match turned out to be forgettable and almost boring (the following off-the-deep-end crazy streak by De La Hoya didn’t help much, either); since then, Pacquiao and Mayweather have taken their turns walloping lesser opponents, doing a frustrating will-they-or-won’t-they dance around actually boxing each other.
It’s tested the patience of any boxing fan, and this latest Mayweather incident (he seems absolutely hell-bent on self-destruction) threatens to set the match back even further.
It’s a shame, because there was a time where boxing was part of this country’s culture; now, it seems to be relegated to weekend Rocky marathons.