By Sean Crose
This past weekend I was stunned to learn that some who follow boxing don’t put a whole lot of stock in the competitive aspect of the sport. As least not as much as some would think they would or should. After Danny Garcia’s gift from the judges on Saturday night, many boxing writers simply shrugged the travesty off. Some even went on to wonder what was next for the light welterweight, not giving Mauricio Herrera so much as a wave goodbye as they happily continued following the path of the Garcia juggernaut.
Most startling to me, however, was a comment a reader made under an article at a respected site. For this reader argued that Garcia would have to avoid opponents like Herrera in the future. Excuse me? Did I read that correctly? Boxing is still a sport, right?
Think about it – this reader, who clearly follows boxing and is presumably a fan – feels Garcia should avoid challenging opponents. Imagine, if you will or can, a Yankee fan wistfully hoping the Red Sox could be avoided because their bullpen is on fire. Or a Patriot fan wishing that Brady and company could avoid the Broncos because Denver’s defensive line is just too good.
The truth is, you probably can’t imagine such scenarios. Because such scenarios are very difficult to imagine. Except, sadly, when it comes to modern boxing. Why, one might well wonder, would someone who puts competition on the back burner even be interested in the sport? I can think of two distinct reasons – both of them ludicrous.
The first reason is that one may simply be interested in boxing as it pertains to marketing. In other words, one follows boxing not because it’s a great sport, but because it’s fascinating to watch an individual become a brand and then be successfully marketed. Of course it’s hard for a true fan to wrap his or her head around such nonsense, but remember that we live in the Kardashian age, an age where entire long running reality shows focus solely on the branding and marketing of certain personalities.
The other reason may pertain to winning. Certain fans may want their favorite boxers to win so badly that they see no point in that boxer being challenged. This, of course, would be a relatively new phenomena. Boxing managers have been carefully picking opponents since the 1800s, but fans have generally wanted to see their favorite fighters rise to the occasion. That may simply no longer be the case, however – at least not in all precincts. There simply may be fans out there who would rather see Garcia fight tomato cans than top notch competition.
Whatever the reasons, I think those who follow boxing without being primarily interested in its competitive aspect aren’t real fans. They’re simply followers. For boxing is a sport. And sports have a tendency to be competitive endeavors.
One last thing – Top Rank seems to be bucking this latest unnerving trend a bit. Floyd Mayweather fans may be happy just to see Mayweather breeze through another bout, but Pacquiao fans are going to see their man face Bradley. What’s more, when Top Rank fighter Julio Caesar Chavez Jr got a gift from the judges after he faced Brain Vera last September, he faced Vera again, essentially going back to the scene of the crime and starting over from scratch.
Of course this may have more to do with necessity than with Bob Arum honoring the sport, but it is what it is. Pacquiao may have fought Brandon Rios last November, but things simply aren’t going to be easy for him for the rest of his career. Will the same thing be true for Mayweather?
Will the same thing be true for Danny Garcia?