One thing that has always been a source of bewilderment for me is a type of topic that is almost always mentioned, one that is almost as old as boxing itself. This topic is about boxing’s impending doom. Quite why people feel the need to say that boxing is amongst other things: On its last legs, nobody follows it anymore or that today’s boxers are merely nothings compared to X years ago. But how long can a sport be on its last legs, unpopular and so on until it becomes extinct?
It seems to be an indefinite amount of time, as time and time again through many of the different mediums that boxing can be found on writers, broadcaster, fans and even boxers talk of this sport to be ready for the sporting graveyard. One of the pieces of ‘evidence’ is that the golden age of boxing has been and gone. But when is a golden age in boxing as it seems like the timeline to this is forever being moved about? The 1930s was the golden age, then the 1950s over took before the 1970s overtook to become what seems to be the recipient of the ‘golden age of boxing’.
The alleged inferiority of this decade’s boxers over the past boxers is another such piece of ‘evidence’. How could you prove this? A boxer’s superiority over another is purely subjective. No magic formula has been found to predict or ever likely to be, in which you could be have a foolproof system on who will beat whom in different decades. If you search throughout boxing history Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Willie Pep were all allegedly worse than the boxers who came before them, but look at them now.
I wonder if in 100 years will boxing be still on a sporting life support machine waiting for the machine to be turned off, like it has been for the previous 100 years? It seems to rank up in frequency of boxing related conversations as “Who is your favorite boxer?”. I hope it will be, but I have a feeling it won’t change. I think in some weird way that boxing is obsessed by talking about it being on the ropes, just look at this opinion article.