Thurman-Garcia Is Great…But What About Afterwards?
By: Sean Crose
“That’s when they were fighters,” the man behind the counter said.
I had heard that line a million times before and had always, without exception, rolled my eyes at it. This time, however, it struck me. Why? Because the man behind the pizza counter loved boxing. Loved it. He talked to me about it all the time. He knew his stuff. And now he didn’t seem to love it anymore.
And, honestly, why should he?
This was a guy who could remember Graziano fighting Zale, Frazier facing Foreman and Hagler battling Hearns, a man who could talk about Ali the fighter rather than just Ali the celebrity. In other words, he could remember a time when boxing actually had stars…because boxers fought their way to stardom. Those days are over – at least temporarily. They ended after Mayweather (who became a celebrity after beating De La Hoya) beat Pacquiao (who also became a celebrity after beating De La Hoya) in something of a snoozer.
Now we have Canelo Alvarez, whose biggest fight was a loss to Mayweather, and perhaps Gennady Golovkin, who Canelo literally gave up his title rather than face. Not exactly thrilling stuff. Meanwhile, across the street at the UFC, Ronda Rousey just brought down another seven figure pay per view event. Sure, she lost, but she lost coming back against a top opponent – after losing to a top opponent her last time in the Octagon.
Conor McGregor, the UFCs biggest star, fought thrice in 2015, twice against the rugged Nate Diaz – who beat him once, thank you very much – and once against the talented Eddie Alvarez. No tuneups. No showcase performances, just big fights against big names. Kinda like boxing used to be. Robinson lost to LaMotta, then came back to beat him just weeks later. Now Ward wins a controversial decision over Kovalev and shows no real interest in a rematch.
Of course, all is not bleak on the boxing horizon. There’s some big fights coming up this year – some of them consisting of Al Haymon fighters, no less. For this author, the best match is between Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman for a healthy chunk of welterweight supremacy. For here are two top men facing off. Sure, they’ve been thoroughly modern fighters in that they haven’t fought a whole lot lately (at least not much against other top fighters), but now we’re going to see who the best of the two is. Great stuff.
What will happen after that fight, though? Will both men move on to other exciting bouts, or will they both take more long term career breaks? The odds say they’ll take the career breaks, which is why boxing is hurting right now. Look, lots of time in the ring can lead to lots of serious damage, everyone gets that. There’s a difference, though, between self abuse and fighting part time.
And the era of part time boxers needs to end if the sport is ever to grow again here in the states.