A Boxing Thanksgiving: Things to be Thankful For
By: Eric Lunger
It’s been quite a year in boxing, giving fans and commentators a great deal to be thankful for. So, as we pause for the holiday and enjoy some down time with family and friends, here is my top five list — in no particular order — of boxing gratitude.
1. Anthony Joshua is on the brink of becoming a global superstar. The charismatic British fighter with Nigerian roots put on a stunning performance in April, defeating the great Wladimir Klitschko, and now the glamorous heavyweight division is ready for some exciting unification bouts. Where will fellow champions Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker fit into the upcoming mixture? What about Tyson Fury, the erratic and unpredictable lineal champ? Let’s be thankful for the exciting prospects in the heavyweight division.
2. Canelo and GGG finally squared off in the ring, even if the decision was frustrating and bizarre. A rematch is probably going to happen either in May for Cinque de Mayo or in September for Mexican Independence Day. Golovkin was in Mexico City this week, feted by media and fans alike, and teased an interviewer with the prospect of the Canelo rematch happening in Azteca Stadium. Can you imagine that fight? In front of eighty thousand fans? I’m thankful just thinking about it.
3. The WBSS Cruiserweight tournament has been really entertaining, and we have two fantastic semifinal matches to kick off the beginning of 2018. With Murat Gassiev facing Yurnier Dorticos, expect explosive power from the opening bell. And if you haven’t yet seen the Ukrainian sensation Oleksandr Usyk in action, don’t miss his fight against Mairis Briedis of Latvia. The winner of the tournament, by the way, will unify three out of the four major belts, with the final slated to take place in Saudi Arabia.
4. Against the odds, a fight for boxing purists between two of the greatest amateurs of all time is headlining a card at Madison Square Garden — The dazzling Vasyl Lomachenko against the dangerous and incredibly gifted Guillermo Rigondeaux. Some commentators have pointed out the weight difference between the two, as Rigondeaux has fought only at 122 while Lomachenko is comfortable making 130 and will most likely rehydrate far north of that weight. Fortunately, the camps announced this week that the fighters will weigh in again on fight day with a rehydration limit of eight pounds. I’m thankful for the opportunity to see these two Olympic champions square off.
5. I’m thankful that Terrence Crawford is moving to welterweight. I hope the Nebraska fighter can get some bouts on a bigger stage — no offense to my Omaha friends, but Crawford should be fighting in New York or Las Vegas. With his enormous talent, I would really like to see Terrence become a bigger star in the sport. He is fun to watch, is cerebral in his approach, can box in both stances, but he can also bang when needed. Having cleaned out the 140 pound division, let’s be thankful that we get to see Terrence Crawford take a run at the loaded welterweight class.
And finally, a thanksgiving shout out to all the coaches and trainers, especially those working in small gyms in both little and big towns, bringing young fighters along, introducing kids to this sport. You are the grassroots. Thank you for everything you do. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Why I’m Thankful for Boxing
Why I’m Thankful for Boxing
By: Brandon Bernica
Last Saturday’s highly controversial decision between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev left boxing in an all-too familiar place. We witnessed another great fight tainted by the subjective scores of three ringside judges. Hardcore fans decried the outcome and casual fans confirmed their presuppositions about boxing’s ineptitude.
Every time I sit down at my computer to write about this sport, I’m never at a loss to write about something the sport is completely failing at. At this point, the laundry list is exhaustive: poor judging, corrupt state commissions, two-faced promoters flirting with litigation purgatory. I was fully prepared to jot down something.
But today, it hit me. Actually, maybe it was the season of Thanksgiving that hit me…
I’m really thankful for the sport of boxing.
I’m thankful for every fighter who laces up a pair of gloves to fight. These fighters battle pressure and nerves that we fans could never empathize with. Every moment inside the ring is one punch away from permanent harm. Too often we take this for granted.
I’m thankful for the different styles of fighters present in the sport. When I watch Guillermo Rigondeaux, I learn how to pick apart another fighters defense with subtle movements. When I watch Gennady Golovkin, I appreciate his ability to cut off the ring. When I watch Orlando Salido, I appreciate the beauty of making such a rugged style into something so effective.
I’m thankful for boxing’s failures. Yes, every one of them. The plethora of mistakes the sport has made only brings greater light to the problems it needs to fix. The transparency in boxing is unfiltered like no other sport.
Hopefully, fans and industry heads can use that transparency to check the sport, cracking down on its unbridled shenanigans once and for all.
I’m thankful for our sport’s announcers. Every fight, I hear about how such-and-such broadcaster is biased towards a particular camp. Yet not enough credit is given to the way these announcers handle the action in the ring with eloquence and poise. Listening to Jim Lampley makes me want to find something in life that I can describe with as much articulation as he does with boxing. In spite of the occasional controversy, listening to Paulie Malignaggi analyze the finer points of fighting makes me want to go out there and try to fight myself.
I’m thankful for some of the great venues the sport has uplifted with great fights. The Stubhub Center has become a mainstay for all-out brawls, while the new T-Mobile Arena bodes well for the future of big fights. Even clubs, hotels, and casinos that give lower-level fighters a chance to delight in the spotlight are beneficial to the sport.
And finally, I’m thankful for the diehard fans of this sport. Without their unbelievable patience amidst the politics of the sport, there would be no legs for boxing to stand on. Even though they’re consistently burned by dubious promoters and corrupt schematics, they still shell out money, hoping that the sport will finally grow beyond its niche. We can protest bad decisions, call out garbage fights, demand a better product, but we can NOT give up on boxing. Because sometimes, seeing the glass half-full is the first step towards real change.