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Undisputed Heavyweight Champion: Boxing Needs It, but Who Can Do It?
By Aaron Imholte (April 15, 2004) 
Why is boxing your favorite sport? A question I am asked on a daily basis it seems, but I always have an answer. It's the most competitive, physical, one-on-one contest in the sports world today. So in a sense I consider myself a boxing purist. I love the game, regardless of who is in it. I understand, however that is simply not the case for some people, they need an electrifying figure, a great story, a flamboyant personality to draw them to boxing's aura. We call these people "fringe" or "casual" boxing fans.

In the last 5 years or so it seems that these casual fans, which are needed desperately to gauge the sport's popularity, have detracted from boxing. When I ask them why boxing is not their favorite sport they answer me with this. "I can't even keep all those champions straight, there's like a hundred of them”. They are almost always talking about the heavyweights, the flagship of our beloved sport.

While 100 may seem a bit exaggerated to us die-hard fans, it seems that way to your fence-walking follower. It is very hard to explain the sanctioning bodies and which organization is more prestigious than the other to these people and understandably so. Imagine if the Spurs, Lakers, Kings, and Timber wolves all had to share the NBA title this year? It is that and the lack of notable names that drives so many away from boxing.

So what can the sport do to increase its appeal and make it easier to follow? In a perfect world the championship bodies would unite as one to form a sort of world boxing league. It would have one champion and thus making boxing more understandable to the average fan.

Now back here in reality, we must find a feasible solution. The only solution would be to have one man go on a mission to unite all of the belts, much like Mike Tyson did back in the 1980's. Mike Tyson made heavyweight boxing the thing to watch because it was so easy to figure out with just one ruler. If that were to happen today perhaps it would see an instant popularity boom in a struggling age.

All we have to do is find that person. Vitali Klitschko is considered by the majority to be the top heavyweight out there today. Being ranked the best fighter in the world, and beating 3 other champions are two totally different things. Vitali could be upset at any time. There are fighters out there who could give trouble if they refuse to fight his fight, Chris Byrd being the most notable of those. Even though Byrd was being beaten by Klitschko before Vitali quit on his stool, he could still upset the giant Ukranian if he takes Byrd too lightly. That and winning all the belts is not something Klitschko has expressed a lot of interest in yet.

There is also a wild card in the division, that one enigma who, if his head is screwed on straight and his heart and determination are in the right place has a puncher's chance of resurrecting his career and becoming champion again (much like the puncher's chance George Foreman was given 10 years ago). “Iron” Mike Tyson is probably coming back at the end of this year and if he comes back with hunger, and a sense of urgency (he is 37 and not getting any younger) he can find a way to beat 3 of the four champions out there with the previously mentioned Klitschko the only one I see giving him an almost certain defeat. But just the news of Tyson embarking on one last quest to be the man again gives us all the criteria we mentioned before. Undoubtedly an electrifying figure, a great story, (troubled veteran on the comeback one more time) and the flamboyant yet dangerous personality Tyson has that is more of a guilty pleasure than NBC's Fear Factor.

Admit it you would watch with a lot more interest if you knew there was one man out there who held all the cards, and you know a lot of other people who would watch with you. Boxing can make a comeback to the front page of your newspaper; it just has to want to first.
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