The Heavyweight Championship of the World is the richest prize in all of sport. But you might not know that if you’ve been listening to a large segment of the American sports media.
American television does not even broadcast world heavyweight title fights any more – and networks like ESPN – as far as I could tell – did not even show highlights of the most recent heavyweight title bout, the 10th round knockout by a pulverizing right hand from Vitali Klitschko onto the jaw of former European champ Albert Sosnowski.
In America, meaningless regular season May professional baseball games received much more video highlight coverage on networks across the nation. As did NASCAR, golf, hockey and tennis.
The Klitschko-Sosnowski fight attracted over 60,000 people in Germany but only received scarce media coverage in the U.S. Many people didn’t even know the fight took place on May 29.
This must change. The American media, by unfairly and wrongly criticizing the talent level of heavyweight boxing, have damaged the reputation and credibility of the title so enormously that most sports editors across the country have little to no respect for heavyweight boxing any more.
They don’t care about, they don’t cover it, and sports fans have lost interest.
Two or three decades ago, heavyweight boxing was always a hot topic of discussion at family gatherings, parties, social events, or at the water cooler.
I believe the root fo the problem is prominent boxing journalists and TV commenators constantly saying and repeating that, “Heavyweight boxing is terrible now, there is no talent. The Klitschkos are the best of a woefully weak era.”
I totally disagree with this nonsense. The Klitschkos are simply too good. They make their challengers look worse than they really are. They are so good, they make boxing look easy. Eddie Chambers, Ruslan Chagaev, Chris Byrd, Albert Sosnowski, Lamon Brewster, Hasim Rahman, Sultan Ibragimov, Calvin Brock, Sam Peter, Juan Carlos Gomez, Chris Arreola have years upon years of boxing experience and training, but they all are vastly inferior to the two Klitschko towers who are dominating boxing.
Dominance happens. It’s natural and normal. Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Steffi Graf, Usain Bolt, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Michael Jordan, Lorena Ochoa, Martina Navratilova all dominated. But no sports journalist ever discredited their greatnesses by foolishly saying, “They only dominate because they have a weak era of competition.”
For some reason, sports journalists only use this lazy, false excuse when discussing heavyweight boxing. And it’s some highly respected journalists who are doing this (I’m not going to name names but you know who they are.)
The consequence is that heavyweight boxing is now almost irrelevant in the U.S. HBO has bailed out on heavyweight boxing and do not show it anymore. Remember, the heavyweight division is the flagship of the entire sport. Heavyweight boxing carries the rest of the load. Yes there will be dull fights, mismatches and easy KO’s like Wladimir vs. Austin or Tyson vs. Spinks. But you stay loyal to the sport and you keep televising it and promoting it. As we work in the industry, we are still fans and we should all stay loyal to this sport we all love. You don’t ignore it or discredit it as a bunch of talentless ham & eggers – that’s dangerous and damaging. That’s a terrible message to put out to the public.
Why should sports fans be expected to support the sport and buy PPV shows when HBO and the U.S. media continually disrespect the heavyweight champions and contenders? Why should sports fans be expected to pay their hard-earned dollars for “garbage”?
I believe the U.S. media should start to celebrate the Klitschkos for what they have accomplished and how they have done it. The story about the Klitschko brothers, their backgrounds and the adversities they have overcome to now totally dominate the sport is movie-worthy material. It’s a gosh darn miracle.
You could not ask for two more classy, more intelligent, more powerful gladiators to rule over the sport yet they are far less known and popular here in the U.S. than a fictional character named Ivan Drago.
If boxing hopes to return to glory, the first step is to get off this ridiculously ignorant notion that heavyweight boxing is boring or talentless or lacking excitement. It’s as special and exciting as it’s ever been. But the perceptions of it by the American media – and how they publicize heavyweight boxing is perhaps the biggest problem dogging the sport today.
* HBO must start to televise heavyweight championship boxing again and tell the story in a positive rather than negative tone. There’s absolutely no way HBO can rationalize televising Bradley vs. Abregu over a Klitschko world heavyweight title fight.
* Boxing journalists like Teddy Atlas, Tim Smith, George Willis, Bert Sugar, and many, many others, should stop complaining about the heavyweight division and show some respect to all the contenders and the two champions. Heavyweight boxing is the hardest, most dangerous job on earth and deserves much more respect than some of these reporters give it.
If HBO and the sports media continue their silly ways of discrediting and diminishing heavyweight boxing rather than celebrating it, this position is only going to cause more harm and damage to the future of the sport and it’s money-making capacity.
This is the last time I’m going to say it, so listen up: “Heavyweight boxing is what all sports strive to be like. They are the bravest, most courageous athletes on earth, risking their health and life every time they set foot in the ring. Throughout history, some fights are great some are less memorable, Ali, Tyson, Louis, Marciano and Holyfield each had exciting and dull performances, as have the Klitschkos. But heavyweight boxing is and always will be the ultimate sporting event on earth. Hollywood doesn’t make movies about soccer or tennis, though they do make a few about baseball, football, basketball and hockey. Boxing is where it’s at. Boxing is what sports is all about – one on one competition, mano a mano.”