Sunday, July 15, 2012

Boxing is far from dead

Who said boxing was dead? It wasn't me that's for sure. As much as I love mixed martial arts, I have always and continue to love boxing. The same way I have to defend MMA to boxing purists, I've had to defend boxing to MMA fans and casual people who suggest that boxing is dead. Yet, one look at Saturday night's fight between junior welterweights Amir Khan and Danny Garcia (pictured @ left) and you'll see boxing doesn't need my defense.

However, therein lies the problem; how many people actually watched it? I find myself having to defend this sport to people who claim they know boxing, yet all they know are two names Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Thus, the reason they claim boxing is dead; but forget about the horrendous judging that has befallen the sport lately and you'll notice that there is a bevy of up and coming talent that goes beyond Mayweather and Pacquiao.

Garcia (24-0, 15 KO's), is a kid out of the tough gyms of Philadelphia that fights just like that, tough. His nickname is 'Swift', but it should be 'Swat' because that's what he does to his opponents when he hits them. In the last year this 24 year old has gone from relative obscurity to potential stardom by defeating four former world champions ina row including Nate Campbell, Kendall Holt, Erik Morales and on Saturday Amir Khan.

Losing the first two rounds easily and looking outclassed by Khan's superior hand speed, Garcia's will to win superseded that deficiency as he caught Khan with a left hook behind the ear at the end of the third round that proved to be the beginning of the end for the HBO poster boy. The end came in the fourth after two more knockdowns and now Garcia is the latest prodigy on the horizon. However, he's only the latest as there are others.

The self proclaimed "Son of God" himself Andre Ward (25-0, 13 KO's) has toiled in relative obscurity for nearly eight years as a pro; this after winning Olympic Gold in 2004. Yet, even after winning the coveted "Super Six Super Middleweight Tournament," where he defeated such notable contemporaries as Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch, it is only now that he will finally receive some notoriety. That is because in September he will put his 168 lbs. title on the line against 175 lbs. champion 'Bad' Chad Dawson (31-1, 17 KO's) another super talent in the sport. Both are ranked number one in their respective weight classes.

Also in September, another fast rising name is that of  Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (46-0-1, 32 KO's) will look to prove his ascension is no fluke as he takes on Sergio Martinez, arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the world along with aforementioned Mayweather and Pacquiao. Chavez, Jr. is another young talent whose star has risen immensely in the last year. The fight against Martinez will prove though whether it's a shooting star or not.

Finally, after those fights in the first two weeks of September, there will be another one in the third week that will not just feature an up and coming prospect in boxing, but a local one at that. Welterweight Ronald Cruz (17-0, 12 KO's), the WBC Continental Americas Champion, will have his toughest fight yet as he battles tried and tested Antwone 'The Truth' Smith on NBC Sports. Cruz does not have Olympic pedigree like Ward or a legend for a father like Chavez, but what he does have is skill and he's making the most of it.

I know I'm sounding more like a promoter than a columnist with this piece, but that is not my purpose at all; these young fighters promote themselves with their performances. My purpose is to bring to light some of the big time up and coming talent within the sport, so that casual fans can realize there's more to the ring than just Mayweather and Pacquaio. Instead of worrying about when those two will ever meet each other, check out some of these other talented pugilists and you'll see boxing is far from dead.

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