It’s a funny thing that occurred to
me today as I was reading my friend Clay Moyle’s excellent book,
Sam Langford, Boxing’s Greatest Uncrowned Champion: back in the
very old days, boxers were willing to fight the very best available,
all the time. To witness, Langford fought the Original Joe Walcott
and Walcott’s brother, Belfield Walcott. He faced Sam McVea many
times over. Langford beat Bill Lang, Andres Balsas, Jack Blackburn,
Joe Jeanette, Jim Barry, the Dixie Kid, Al Kubiak, Philadelphia Jack
O’ Brien, Bill Tate and Fireman Jim Flynn, the only man to beat
Jack Dempsey by knockout. Langford also faced Jack Johnson and Harry
Wills, losing against Johnson a very close decision, Johnson never
wanting to meet his eager challenger again.
Up until the “modern old days”, so
to speak, we still had a period in which fighters were willing to
engage each other. Money was an issue, as it has always been, but it
seemed more then like pride was also involved. These were the days of
Wilfred Benitez, Roberto Duran, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas
Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard in their round robin, of which
Hagler-Benitez was the only fight not to take place (it almost did,
had Mustapha Hamsho not beaten Benitez in June of 1983, it would have
been Benitez-Hagler instead of Duran-Hagler in November that year).
You had Alexis Arguello, whose resume had Ruben Olivares, Bobby
Chacon and Aaron Pryor has Hall of Famers he faced, as well as should
be Hall of Famers Alfredo Escalera and Jose Luis Ramirez, and Ernesto
Marcel, Ray Mancini, Claude Noel, Jim Watt, Cornelius Boza Edwards,
Billy Costello, Rafael Limon, etc. Two fights against other Hall of
Famers, Salvador Sanchez and Edwin Rosario, only failed to
materialize because Sanchez died and Rosario was injured in preparing
to fight Alexis. Julio Cesar Chavez Senior, meanwhile, faced Rosario,
Limon, Ramirez, Hector Camacho, Roger Mayweather twice, Juan Laporte,
Rocky Lockridge, Lonnie Smith, Oscar De La Hoya twice, Pernell
Whitaker, Miguel Angel Gonzalez, Kostya Tszyu, Joey Gamache, Giovanni
Parisi, Frankie Randall three times, and, of course, Meldrick Taylor
Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather
Jr. are not supposed to be. They ARE today’s best boxers. Miguel
Cotto and Sergio Martinez are jousting for a distant third place in
that category. Juan Manuel Marquez clearly deserves a fourth chance
at Pacquiao, but he has not beaten him in three tries. Right now,
talks are going on about a rematch between Pacquiao and my townsfolk
Miguel Cotto, and about a fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and
my co-Latin man, Saul Alvarez. But even the staunchest supporters
have to see that Cotto and Alvarez have no chance, barring a huge
upset of the Buster Douglas-Mike Tyson type, to win these fights. The
fight we all want to see is Mayweather-Pacquiao!
We have been holding, like a person who
needs to pee but has no bathroom in sight, for this fight to take
place since about early 2009. What will it take for it to happen? Are
they waiting to see if the Mayans were right, so that after December
, they can both claim, in eternity and for eternity,
that each one dodged the other one out? Or perhaps they are waiting
for November 12th
, on the 30th
that glorious boxing night in which Aaron Pryor beat Arguello in a
fight with no glowingly descriptive words that make it justice?
If, and when, Pacquiao and Mayweather
decide to have a fight with each other, it will be great for boxing.
Let’s not be ignorant and say that people in other areas do not
fight for the right to be called the best. Don’t you think that
Oscar De La Renta and Stella McCartney are like family to each other;
they may like and respect each other, but deep inside, they hope that
the one outshines the other at the runways. Likewise, when Enrique
Iglesias releases a CD, he hopes to outsell Justin Timberlake AND
Justin Bieber, AND Chayanne, and etc. Barack Obama and whoever the
Republicans choose for a Presidential candidate will take their own
fight to the urns in November. So will Governor Luis Fortuno, PPD
party candidate Alejandro Garcia and Independence Party leader Ruben
Berrios in Puerto Rico. Delta Airlines versus American Airlines,
Pepsi versus Coca-Cola, the Smurfs versus Gargamel….in spite of all
the bad things that some competitions bring about, and which I have
spoken against, there are other things that competition brings, such
as passionate fans who vie for one or the other, social
argumentation, and the opportunity to unite-or to disunite- as a
society to share what we have observed about our favorite this or
that-or to fight over it and break each other’s heads with baseball
bats and broken bottles hopefully we will choose the former and not
Competition also brings forward
attention to the issue at hand. If Pacquiao and Mayweather signed for
a match, the match would be seen by boxing fans and general people
alike, in the Philippines and the United States, but also in England,
Puerto Rico and Mexico, where both boxers are very well known having
beaten fighters from each of those countries, as well as in the
United Arab Emirates, Germany, France, South Africa, Japan,
Australia, Argentina, Russia, Ireland, Panama, Samoa, American Samoa,
South Korea, Thailand, Italy, Fiji, Guam and most other boxing-happy
countries where people could identify with either one or the other.
Don’t be mistaken, this fight could represent the beginning of a
worldwide revolution in boxing that could potentially make the sport
we love finally become the “fifth major league” sport in the
United States. And that is the country where boxing needs help the
most. In most countries, and you shall believe this or not depending
on where you live at, boxing is a seriously major sport, mostly
lagging only behind association football. Talking of which, look at
how close association football has come to be considered that fifth
major in the United States, with the Major League Soccer in it’s
year and teams averaging about 30,000 fans per game.
This all came after the 1994 World Cup, played in the USA. Mostly
nobody expected that event to affect Association Football so
positively and for so long in the States. But it did. That’s how
much an event of that magnitude can do for a sport.
So, in conclusion, guys…guys…guys,
Manny and Floyd, what will it be??? Will you be like Jack Johnson and
run away from each other for the rest of your life? Or will you be
like the 1994 World Cup and give us a fight we all want to see and
boxing a lifting experience the one like we may have never seen
The…ehem….gloves, are on your side
of the court!.
Please send all Questions and comments to Antonio at TJ69662094@aol.com.
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