Boxing is not dying. Boxing will never die. To the contrary, boxing is and always will be considered the ultimate one-on-one sporting contest.
This truth was proven Sunday on the NBC television network during it’s telecast of the 2009 New York City Marathon. At the most exciting final stretches of the mens and womens races, which simultaneously featured a double showdown on spilt screen between Meb Keflezighi vs. Robert Cheruiyot and Derartu Tulu vs. Lumila Pedtrova, NBC’s veteran lead broadcaster Al Trautwig was moved to say on the air: “One of the reasons boxing has had it’s popularity over the years – it’s you and me. Me and you.”
His color commentator Ed Eyestone then added, “Mano y mano.”
In the heat of the battle, within just miles of the finish line, Trautwig called on the boxing card to best articulate the dramatic action we were witnessing. 37-year-old Tulu of Ethiopia, and a mother of two, pulled away from Russian Petrova in the last two miles to complete her stunning first New York City Marathon win. Moments later, 34-year-old Keflezighi had more gas in his engine and outlasted his Kenyan counterpart – to become the first American winner in New York since Alberto Salazar in 1982.
The New York Marathon, which included over 43,000 contestants, is called “the largest sports event in the world.” And at it’s most thrilling, exciting moment, the marathon was compared in the same sentence, the same breath – to – not MMA, not tennis, not chess – but boxing.
Now let’s just hope the powers-that-be get their collective heads on straight and can rebuild boxing into what it should be: the best sport on earth. How to go about it? Immediately stop making meaningless mismatch exhibitions like Hatton-Mayweather II when there are Super-fights like Pacquiao or Cotto vs. Mayweather to be made. Match the best against the best when the time is right, anything less than that is garbage and only damages the credibility of the sport.