Sports Illustrated Snubs Boxing Again

Matthew Hurley: Although it didn’t come as much of a surprise, even considering the banner year boxing had in 2007, it was still with a clenched fist that I perused my end of year issue of Sports Illustrated and saw the sweet science not only marginalized within SI’s pages but belittled yet again. After turning to page seventy, where the fight game was lumped in the section for ‘Other Sports’ I saw three paragraphs of prose dedicated to the sport. One of which dealt with Oscar De La Hoya and ‘those’ pictures that flooded the internet earlier this year..

At least the magazine was savvy enough to include a picture of Kelly Pavlik landing a right hand to the head of Jermain Taylor in his thrilling middleweight title victory, but was it necessary to compare Pavlik to the ‘myth’ that “just about anybody, regardless of pedigree, can punch his way to a Rocky moment.”

Boxing fans have long since given up the hope that the mainstream media will acknowledge the fact that not only does boxing have a sound and loyal fan base but that it is a global love affair filled with nationalistic pride and passion. The fact that 2007 was filled with stellar match ups that resulted in several thrilling events should have elevated the respect level for boxing among newspaper columnists and magazines such as Sports Illustrated. Yet, no matter the fistic glory, the editors of those periodicals just don’t pay attention anymore – at least in the United States.

Whether it was the record setting crowds that overflowed at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and the surrounding closed circuit venues in Las Vegas for the Oscar De La Hoya – Floyd Mayweather bout or the 50,000 people that crammed into the Millennium Stadium in Wales to watch Joe Calzaghe and Mikkel Kessler put on a stellar boxing match for the undisputed super middleweight title the mainstream collective yawned politely at the back of their hand. Not only that, Sports Illustrated rather witheringly declared the De La Hoya – Mayweather bout, “The Fight To Save Boxing”, when every boxing fan knew it wasn’t even the second or third best match up of the year. The only reason it got a cover story was because even those that turn their nose up at boxing knew the fight was big business and tons of money would be involved. They wanted their little taste but once the fight was over boxing again disappeared into the ether.

Still the fight game survives because its fans remain loyal, often in the face of monetary injustice. It isn’t the fans fault that they often must shell out ridiculous amounts of money for pay per view bouts that aren’t worthy of the price tag, but they often have no other recourse. If anything is marginalizing boxing it’s the greed of the promoters and the sanctioning bodies. But that has become a long standing tradition ever since the 1980s and it isn’t ever going to change. That too speaks to the loyalty of boxing fans, the fact that they are so hungry for the electric charge the sport provides that they will plunk down their hard earned money for events that should really be on free television.

I finally sighed and gave up after the Sports Illustrated blurb on boxing asked, “Can you name even one current heavyweight champ? Not really water cooler talk, is it?”
Then I flipped through the rest of the issue, enjoying it until I came to the ‘Farewell’ section. After reading the obvious pieces on Bill Walsh, Hank Bauer and Dennis Johnson I became a little disconcerted. There were obituaries for a soft ball player, a surfer, a female wrestler and a horse. There was not mention of the late and lamented Diego Corrales.

With that, I closed the magazine and gave up.

Article posted on 27.12.2007

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