COLUMN: Fans will appreciate balanced superfight

first_imgOn Saturday night, pretty much all of America was tuned into one event — Mayweather vs. McGregor, a massive money-grab of a fight that was hyped to be one of the greatest sporting events of the decade for months leading up to its ultimate climax this weekend.I had looked forward to the fight for weeks until I discovered that it was unfortunately positioned on the final night of sorority recruitment. Despite trying my hardest to make it to a viewing party, I ended up relying on Snapchats from my best friend to keep up with the fight and its 10 rounds of drama.But ultimately, I wasn’t disappointed in missing out on what at one point was predicted to be one of the greatest superfights of all time. The recaps betrayed the truth of the matchup — a veteran facing an energetic but underprepared rookie who, despite all of his outside training, was not a match for a long-standing boxing champion.As a casual fan of boxing, the night was disappointing to me. It was certainly one of the biggest nights in fighting in years. Yet something rang hollow about the experience as a whole. Call me an idealist, but Mayweather vs. McGregor just didn’t feel like boxing to me.I probably didn’t get into boxing for all of the right reasons. My mom is a huge fan of the Rocky movies, and she convinced me to watch them the “perfect way” — Rocky I and II back-to-back with no break, as if it’s a full movie — as a freshman in college. Shortly afterwards, Creed came out and my love of fake-movie-boxing was cemented after the 133 minutes of that unbelievably quotable movie. Sure, it’s not the real thing, but the movie lent me a certain appreciation of the sport that I’d never had before. I used to see boxing as a grotesque sport, an even more brutal form of football with its unrelenting violence. But watching those movies, as fake as they are, gave me an appreciation of boxing and boxers and the fans who watch it. It took coming to USC, joining a recreational boxing gym and making several close friends who were fans of fighting for me to be completely won over. But as I continued to watch more of the sport, I came to appreciate the intricacies and techniques that set each boxer apart. Fighters are a certain type of dancer; no two people fight the same, and the ring is a stage for the most basic type of physical competition.The hard part of loving boxing, though, is that the sport as a whole is dying out. This has been said for decades, and it’s also been true for decades. The death of boxing has been a slow one, but it’s been a steady degradation, as a society increasingly sensitive towards brutality in athletics shifts to the NBA and the MLS and away from so-called “traditional” American sports.Now, boxing is successful only on the grandest stages. Fewer and fewer boxers can “make it,” and the result is a sport that thrives off of spectacles such as the one on Saturday night. I heard plenty of people describe the match as a “good fight” in class on Monday. To be fair, it wasn’t a bad fight like Mayweather’s previous bout against Manny Pacquiao that disappointed casual and avid fans alike. But I don’t think Saturday’s fight can be remembered as a great fight by any means. It was a spectacle of an event and a major money-making move for both fighters, but the action wasn’t anything to write home about.In several weeks, one fight has the potential to be a truly spectacular fight — Canelo vs. GGG, a face off between Canelo Álvarez and Gennady Golovkin on Sept. 16 that pits two of the best middleweight boxers in the world.That fight will be everything that the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight wasn’t. Both fighters are equally matched, with a slight advantage given to Álvarez, who has only been beaten by Mayweather earlier in his career. But this is an example of an actual superfight, in which two top-ranked fighters take on the greatest challenge in their division.That match will be a true fight. It also won’t receive half the hype or attention. It won’t be a national event, even though it is truly and indisputably a better matchup and a more interesting fight. This is the rub of modern boxing — the superfights aren’t the mainstage anymore, and much of the hype revolves around names rather than quality.It’s hard to proclaim the sport dead when a single fight night generated $400 million. The interest for boxing is certainly still available, and if properly directed, it could bring some life back into the sport. But it’s hard to refocus any fanbase once it’s gone so far off its original track.I’m not calling for an overhaul of the sport. One of the greatest parts of boxing is its glitz and glamor, and I will stand behind the belief that Prince Naseem Hased’s entrance into the ring on a magic carpet is one of the coolest things to happen in the history of sports. Every great boxing match deserves the pageantry of the weigh in, the walk-up music and the trash talking.But in order to keep boxing alive, we need to go back to the basics. A stunt like Saturday’s match is short-lived, and the fun dies quickly and leaves few memories. Boxing will stay fun if the biggest fights are the best ones, not the ones with the biggest price tag attached.Julia Poe is a junior studying print and digital journalism. She is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, Poe’s Perspective, runs on Wednesdays.last_img read more