Respecting the Sport
By: Matthew N. Becher
Boxing is a sport based on respect. It is something that you need to earn. Either by fighting the toughest opponents available, or simply by garnering it with your punching ability while in the ring. Without respect you will not get far in the sport. Opponents will walk you down, feeling no need to respect your power and fans will tear you apart for not fighting, who they deem, the best possible opponent.
Last week in Las Vegas, Amir Khan skipped two weight classes to take on the lineal Middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. The fight went as almost everyone expected. It may have lasted a few rounds longer, but in the end, Canelo demolished Khan. A thunderous shot that completely melted Khan into the canvas. Thankfully Khan was alright, and in the end, it seemed that in defeat he gained just as much respect as though he had won. This seemed a little off. Social media was a blaze in praising Khan for taking on the bigger opponent, or standing toe to toe with Canelo for as long as he did. Khan lost. The fact of the matter is he lost pretty badly. Khan was hit with such force that he was completely unconscious on his feet, before crashing to the canvas. Is this what earns respect? Did Khan take this fight, truly believing that he could beat a rehydrated Canelo? Or did Khan take this fight because he could walk away with an estimated $6-13 million dollar purse regardless of the outcome?
A lot of fighters take on opponents that they surely cannot beat, and they get relegated to “Bums” or “nobodies” by the fans and Media. A few weeks prior, Dominic Wade, an undefeated middleweight contender took on and lost to Unified Champion Gennady Golovkin. Wade was unheard of and unofficially deemed the “tomato can” that somehow got in the ring with GGG. Wade had no shot at winning, but he did have a one hundred percent guarantee to walk out of that ring with a check for half a million dollars. The largest purse that he has ever seen in his life. Nobody rained down respect when it came to Dominic Wade, or for Golovkin for that matter.
Khan is a good fighter with a chin that does not hold up to solid shots. He was knocked out two times prior to Saturday night, both by men that weighed 140-150 lbs. What did we all think would happen when a 25 year old, prime, middleweight champion connected? Should we even be respecting Canelo’s power? Wouldn’t have any top 10 middleweight have been able to put down a welterweight with one shot?
In 2014, a little know fighter from Pittsburgh named Rod Salka was positioned to fight Danny Garcia in the main event at the Barclays center. Salka was a career jr. lightweight, but for a six figure pay day he was more than willing to go up and face an undefeated World Champion at Jr. Welterweight. Salka was nearly decapitated by Garcia and has since been the butt of many a boxing joke. Same for Garcia who has been dubbed the “Cherry Picker” ever since. What’s the difference between these two fights?
Garcia and Canelo both did what everyone expected them to do as the superior, bigger men. Except Garcia is seen as a “ducker” and Canelo as a big puncher who is at the top of the sports revenue stream. Khan and Salka, were both guys that took more money than they have ever made before in stepping up in weight. Though Khans’ future looks very bright, with multiple options available.
Boxing has weight classes for a reason. This is the reason! Jr. Welterweight champions shouldn’t be looking to strictly jump up two weight classes and be expected to compete with top middleweights. It’s not about trying to get “respect” from the sport, it is a money grab. Khan made a lot of it on Saturday, he paid a price to get it, but he will be ok, and drop back down to 147 where he may be able to continue his career.
Let’s not get it confused. Anyone who steps in the ring and puts their lives on the line, because that is what every single professional boxer is doing, should deserve our respect for that. When you go in with no intentions or chance of actually winning, then don’t try and think that we do not see what you are doing. It’s disrespectful to all of us.