Settling down to a task of writing something of value for boxing fans of heavyweight fighting hasn’t rested easy upon me.
I’m not writing for the Nobel prize, goddam, I’m writing for folks out there, who likely as I do drop exteriors that life makes us wear and simply put on the prizefighting garb; the same veneer that makes ‘fight fans around the world’(jimmy lennon jnr.,don’t you just love him), regardless of station in life, equal.
But in shedding my veneer I began to wonder just what contribution I could make for the proprietor’s super highway heavyweight portal.
Recently I wrote him and said “it’s coming”! Ha a ‘dime for every time’ a writer utters such and I’d be high on the hog with more dosh than that little monied fella with an alleged penchant for cell phone violation. Don’t fret, he won’t reappear in this article, nor will his Philippine ‘pound for pound’ political nemesis, or for that matter any other welterweight, bantamweight, or any other such division not connected to heavyweight. Ahh, wait up with the possible exception of Cruiserweight for reasons I may touch on later.
Look I was stumped; the original idea was to convey cynicism at the present parlous fortunes of this division and the two bouts comprising the younger Klitschko against ‘The Nightmare from Nigeria and the ‘champ of his own mind’ David Haye’ against his possibly shot countryman. The problem here was that it was too easy to pick holes in these fights, almost unfair of someone who loves the sport to denigrate it even further when its stocks are at ‘an all time low ebb’.
Nor was I going to waste words on the selfishness of ‘the brothers’ for holding heavyweight fans to ransom in refusing to fight each other and thus perpetuating boxing at the elite forum to further instability. There isn’t news in this; there isn’t progress; just implosion; another soothsayer of doom and a self fulfilling prophecy of demise; the same fate befalling those hapless victims of Joe Louis’ ‘bum a month’ campaign and Mike Tyson’s ‘made of straw opponents during their preeminent reigns. I didn’t want to preside with quill over such destructive thoughts.
Two days back when talking with a friend of mine I touched on the topic of Floyd Patterson’s briefcase. Pregnant pause over, and realizing he wasn’t going to run with the conversation I explained the circumstances that lead to ‘ex-heavyweight, actually the ex two time heavyweight ‘Champ of the World’ arriving for his rematch with Sonny Liston carrying a briefcase containing sun glasses, false beard, and other items of deception and disguise; all allowing for Floyd to make a quick ‘get away’ from an arena he’d knowingly soon be pulverized in. Story has it that fear and self loathing alongside any confidence had annihilated the Catskills trained fighter long before any of the ex-felon’s heavy blows would again dismantle Patterson in the very same round as their first encounter; the first!
I was a young boy when I heard this story, though it has stuck with me throughout my adult life. For this reason I find myself still captivated to boxing, accepting that while as a somewhat older and cynical fan, there still exists within an alleged depleted talent pool a ready romanticism to the sport that galvanized the interests of the impressionable lad I once was. Others out there may not share the same ‘rosy’ view of the stellar division, but just as I did in ’61 and ’62 there may well be many more young kids today who have the same feelings watching the current crop of heavyweights ply their pugilistic trade.
The ‘good old days’ are relative and whilst international relations, the economy and indeed the planet itself may be traversing on egg shell formed floors of edginess, the fact remains that for young kids today, these are the good old days. They are the same good old days whereby young kids may soon be captivated by the alluring quality of watching a superbly shaped 200 lb athlete moving gracefully while exacting hurt upon, or defending a
volley of blows from an equally sized opponent.
For this young kid Heavyweight Boxing’s confused state in 2010 may be the opportunity to ‘be there at the rebirth’, when a severely talented athlete finally assumes sole occupancy as normal"">Heavyweight Champion of the World; the stories then that these new fans will then carry through life as they traverse the pathways as fans of boxing’s heavyweight future are what a ‘parlous state of affairs’ can present as opportunity.
Will they tell stories that relate to Tomasz Adamek’s dismantling in the final rounds over an aging and tired juggernaut in Vitali Klitschko? Will he remember Klitschko’s blistering and pulverizing attack on the much smaller ‘Joisey’ fighter only to see him suck it up and then allow the European veteran to punch himself out like children of the 70’s saw Big Bad George Foreman do that fateful night (morning) in Kinshasa Zaire, and then to
watch the smaller fighter proceed to chop down the tiring soon to be ex champ in the ‘12th and final round’.
If they don’t remember this, perhaps it will be a stunning fight where a seriously exposed David Haye takes a split points decision from Audley Harrison in a modern day classic slugfest, the likes of Floyd Patterson
vs George Chuvalo back in the 1960’s. (I was only able to see the fight for the first time in 2009 and marveled at its stunning competitiveness, one of the best heavyweight fights I have ever seen)
Indulge me for a moment; Haye down in the 2nd 4th and 7th having equally floored Harrison 3 times (twice in the 6th), dazed and bleeding badly, can barely stand at the sound of the bell for the 12th, yet miraculously
manages to outlast the former Olympic champion. The fight is an instant classic triggering calls for a rematch, but as is sometimes the case in boxing the best fights don’t get made and these young fans never get a reprise of this great night in Manchester
Haye refuses a mandatory option, buoyed by the stunning win and is quickly KO’d in his next outing by the younger Klitschko. The fight barely lasts 3 rounds and is dominated from the outset by Klitschko’s heavy
right cross early in round 1. Haye unable to get back into the fight from the terrible hurt of that first meaningful punch is reduced to a damaged package and is unable to offer his distressed supporters any signs of resistance.
The young fans I have referred to have all this on their radar, and the boxing powers to be soon present the final piece in the jigsaw whereby Adamek ‘the champion from nowhere’ fights the younger sibling now eager
to avenge the loss that put his elder brother into retirement.
Adamek since assuming the title has taken two quick but plausible bouts against the Russian Alexander Povetkin and then a rematch against the Latino champ Cristobal Arreola. Both fights are decision victories
and showcased the old-school grit that the former Pole displays in his transition from a Cruiserweight to a legitimate Heavyweight fighter. Fans are amazed at the Holyfieldesque transformation of the former Soviet Bloc fighter
Heavyweight fighting was again ‘alive’ and for the first time in years had returned to its position as titular head of the sport alongside assuming its spiritual (but not exclusively) home within the US.. A myriad of stories had evolved from the bouts that had just been completed and fans still had one more fight to be enacted on the world stage. In accordance with shifting fortunes a crisp November evening at Madison Square Garden would
ultimately house a Ukrainian by way of Germany with an American originally a Pole, with both and only both fighting for the ‘Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World’.
It’s all so relative; the worst of times can be the ‘good old days’, and the future of Heavyweight Boxing lies in the ability of young kids to be handed a baton of meaningful fights that pique the imagination, lending themselves to stories, myths and legends that transcend the greatness of the bouts.
At the same time and now as an adult, I assume the right to travel with ‘Floyd Patterson’s Briefcase’, though by now with a beard and chronic myopia from childhood, I’ve learned to live with my failures, but not those of administrators who can do much to prevent new fans having a future as wealthy as a past. This strangest of stories from decades back in boxing’s ‘in between seasons’ triggering a lifetime of passion for the sport is just waiting to be enacted in new young fans.
Louis, Walcott, Charles, Marciano, Patterson, Johannson, Liston, Clay, Ali, Frazier, Foreman Holmes, Tyson, Bowe, Lewis and onwards until these times, and thus the value of returning the Heavyweight belt to its
rightful place at the summit of sporting imagination, remains presently couched within a caveat. That being, that fans from around the planet need a collective voice ensuring that the Champeenship never again slips from its perch; and that with daily rationalizations around us so too should boxing organizations shed their cloak of disarray and insincerity in making fights and seek mergers to the exclusion of multiple divisional champions and titles.
How can these organizations hold their heads high knowing that the Heavyweight Champ, of the World is throwing the ‘belt’ into a trash can or any other receptacle of disinterest?
Whilst a boy could dream upon a fighter’s story, he knew that man was one of only two fighters who could be contesting the ultimate prize in sport, and that’s what we should all be seeking in these present and
So, the fans have to yell out to be heard; right now there are some great fights out there, and they need to be made, not all as championship bouts, but dare I say it, as eliminators with agreement from all concerned, that the #3 ranked heavyweight in the world, for example will fight the #6 ranked, knowing that a win could place either one at a forum on that cool crisp evening in Vegas, or Spring at Madison Square Garden.
And it won’t matter who wins, since the best prepared spectators will be carrying a briefcase to make that get away, even if not having backed the winner, certainly looking like they had.
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Haye vs Harrison was completed today with a convincing 3rd round KO for Haye, equally the film Liston starring Vin Rhames, sheds some 'color' to this article when assessing the imagery associated with Floyd Patterson