December 6th, 2012 By Frances Martel
New York, NY- Our sport sure has changed since my heyday on the pages of RingTalk.com Back then, now some several years ago, the boxing world was aflutter with its writers wondering whether the greatest Congressman to everstep into a ring, Manny Pacquiao would accept a challenge from the increasingly boring Floyd Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs); whether fighters with a lot of miles (rounds) like Miguel Cotto (37-4, 30 KOs), would finally retire; and whether WBA welter guy Paul Malignaggi (32-4, 7 KOs) wouldever stop badmouthing judges on live television. As you can tell from the events at Madison Square Garden last Saturday, everything is totally different now.
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE THE BETTER!
Boxing history moves at a glacial pace, and from this emanates much of its charm. Even in the face of captains of industry that insist on hijacking the narrative to convince the casual observer that they really, really care about underwhelming prospects that look good (hello & goodbye Victor Ortiz (29-4-2, 22 KOs), the cream of the sport rises to the top—or, in cases like Cotto or Shane Mosley—it stays there. Years pass and the stars continue burning, even when they are burned out. And often in those spectacular moments of defeat, new stars rise from the ashes.
BOXING’S DEATH WISH
For many, watching stars like Cotto and Ricky Hatton (45-3, 32 KOs) yield to a newer generation of talent necessarily means the “death” of boxing as they know it. If Trout-Cotto proved anything, it’s that boxing never changes (except when it does). The sport’s slow pace turns its fans into creatures of habit that squirm uncomfortably at the thought of their favorites retiring. It’s a product of inertia as much as the personal nature of the sport—we sacrifice the permanence of teams and institutions for the chance to root for individuals and personalities rather than geographical regions or schools. Unfortunately, this leads to a conservative attitude among viewers in which the birth of a champion is treated as a burial. Some came together Saturday night not to celebrate Austin Trout (26-0, 14 KOs), but to mourn Miguel Cotto. It is hard to blame the media for assuming a sport is dying when it is constantly draped in black shawls.
THE TIME FOR CONSERVATISM IS OVER
The challenge of how to engage a new generation when it has become clear that worshipping false idols of yore is not a good business model is not unique to boxing. The Republican Party is going through its own attempts at evolution while ignoring the bright, new, diverse talent at its fingertips—and just like Republicans, it’s time for boxing fans to adapt to this brave new world of boxers born in the ‘90s who can’t unglue themselves to their Twitter accounts and embrace them rather than shooing them off their lawns. A sport that counts Trout, Malignaggi, and bright young thing Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs) among its stars is only dying if you ignore all this talent and pay the equivalent of a new TV set to watch Manny Pacquiao shadow box an AARP member.
MEET THE NEW CHAMPS
The new crop of boxing stars is young, fresh, and—most importantly— have wildly divergent styles. A division full of knockout artists or sweet scientists would lull an entire generation to sleep. In fact, in the days when Bernard Hopkins v. Winky Wright was considered a PPV-able event, their division did just that. Against Cotto, Trout proved in the name of his generation that it was time to move on, and I, for one, am ready to listen. In two days when Pacquiao goes into the ring to fight the same fight he has been fighting for half the time I have been alive, I will happily watch whatever mediocre rerun of Saturday Night Live or 30 Rock is on that night. I feel no sense of loyalty to the robber barons that think I’m not smart enough to realize Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez is a sham. But having watched Cotto pass the torch onto Trout, with Alvarez’s supernova talent waiting in the wings for his shot at unifying a title, I’m ready to give boxing—real boxing—my undivided attention.
Frances “The Fight Chick” Martel