By Sean Crose
News flash: no one wants to see Floyd Mayweather fight Amir Khan. Nor does anyone want to see Andre Ward step into the ring once again with Carl Froch. Pacquiao-Bradely? Maybe after PacMan fights Money.
Oh, and Vitali Klitshchko? No one (at least in the United States) cares if you want to fight again or not. Just make up your mind so the world can move on.
Sound like tough talk? Well, there’s lots of boxers who need some tough talk at the moment. Granted, the sport is in a good place right now. There have been some great fights recently and there’s a lot of talent out there. Things aren’t going to stay good, however, if boxing’s top fighters refuse to challenge themselves.
Why, one may well ask, would Adonis Stevensen rather fight a man pushing fifty than face the most promising prospect in the sport? Isn’t Stevensen supposed to be “Superman?” Couldn’t he conceivably still have a promising career, even if he were to lose to Kovalev?
Also, what’s with Andre Ward? There’s some serious threats in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions. Has he called any of those threats out? Is he simply content to be declared the second-best fighter in the world over and over again while battling an endless line of over-matched opponents? What exactly are his long term plans?
And what about Julio Caesar Chavez Junior? Would it be too much too ask for the man to make weight for his next fight? Everyone understands he’s boxing royalty, of course, but isn’t a modicum of professionalism still in order?
Lastly, is the sport’s world really just supposed to shrug it’s shoulders if Mayweather-Pacquaio doesn’t ever happen? Shouldn’t it be the responsibility of the two camps to make the fight a reality? To read some reports, you’d think it was the responsibility of fans to accept the fact that the bout may never occur.
It’s time for boxing’s best to continue proving they’re the best. That means fighting the best opponents out there, taking their careers and reputations seriously and, most importantly, thinking about the fans. Why? Because it’s the fans who pay their bills. If the fans get really aggravated – there go the big paydays.
Larry Merchant recently claimed it was time for boxing’s loyal fans to get what they want. He called out Ward and Stevensen in particular for not being willing to challenge themselves. Larry may no longer do blow by blow commentary for HBO, but his words couldn’t have rung truer.
The fact of the matter is boxing is not the UFC. There’s no Dana White figure in the sport calling the shots for the best and brightest out there. This, of course, is a good thing, as top boxers can earn far more for risking their necks than the UFCs top stars can. Yet it’s time for many fighters to take personal responsibility and make the most of their time in the sport.
While it’s true that boxing has a history of it’s stars not doing what they ought to (John L Sullivan reportedly wouldn’t fight Australian Peter Jackson because he was black, after all) there’s no reason in the world why that history shouldn’t be just that – history. If a premiere attraction isn’t going to fight the best opponents out there, for instance, then that fighter deserves to be rebuked by the fans, who deserve to watch the best step into the ring with the best.
Again, boxing is in a good place right now. And that’s a great thing. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be in an even better place, however. Boxing lovers worldwide deserve nothing less.