Boxing Needs Another Mike Tyson
It’s no secret that outside of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., boxing’s mainstream popularity has been in a downward spiral. The sport’s efforts (or lack thereof) of breeding new stars has failed. This past weekend saw Chad Dawson—who Floyd Mayweather Jr. coined as one of the best pure boxers in the sport—get soundly defeated by Canadian Jean Pascal. The weekend before that, Devon Alexander had a tougher than expected challenge when he defeated Alexander Kotelnik. Both fights saw boxers who played it relatively safe. In Dawson’s case, he paid dearly by losing.
The biggest issue right now? Boxing’s next breed of fighters seem content to box and stay out of danger rather than enter the ring knocking opponents blocks off. And that’s what boxing is truly missing right now—a true knockout artist.
Mike Tyson brought a type of dynamic which made him a megastar in the sport. Aside from his polarizing personality, his raw power raised the eyebrows of those who weren’t even interested in boxing. Everyone likes a good knockout and Tyson brought that expectation to the ring whenever he fought. Today’s boxers try to be too much like Floyd Mayweather than Mike Tyson. Unfortunately, everyone cannot be a genius inside the squared circle like Mayweather. What’s more maddening are fighters who have the skill set to get rid of opponents, but opt to box “safe.” The one exception to this rule is Manny Pacquiao. The Filipino dynamo always tries to smash his opponent into the next lifetime. Sure, Pacquiao has the skill set to box a safe fight (thanks to Freddie Roach) but the Pac Man understands what it means to put on a show.
In order for boxing to find life after Mayweather and Pacquiao, somebody is going to have to step it up and blow opponents out to make people take notice. Currently, the closest thing we have is Yuriokis Gamboa (18-0, 15 KOs), who will fight on the next HBO Boxing After Dark on September 11th against Orlando Salido. Gamboa has been flat-lining opponents in devastating fashion and will look to do the same on the 11th.
But until a fighter breathes life into the sport by showcasing skill with ruthless aggression, boxing will continue to fall out of grace with the casual fan.