Lightweights can save boxing

Boxing seems to be salvageable. 

This past weekend instilled hope in boxing fans across the world. After a few years of YouTube boxing dominating the newsreels it seems like professional boxing is back to reclaim its spot. KSI’s recent event has (rightly) been overshadowed by some spectacular match-ups in the world of pro-boxing. A few weeks ago we saw Gervonta ”Tank” Davis vs Ryan Garcia where Tank walked out victorious, and this weekend we had Katie Taylor vs Chantelle Cameron and Devin Haney vs Vasiliy Lomachenko. 

Katie Taylor has been a delight to see in the ring and and the support she has had in her native Ireland is heartwarming. Yet, she took a loss on home turf. Losses, however, don’t subtract from the otherwise incredible accomplishments of athletes at these high levels. When you are among the best, it is a rare thing to see an untarnished record and it is the search for the perfect record that has long denied us fans some of the most entertaining fights available. Hence, the Tank vs Garcia fight was a highly welcomed affair: two undefeated fighters of a similar skill-set facing off. That’s what boxing is when it is at its best.

Haney is a rising star. In fact all of the above mentioned names as rising stars still in the early days of their career. Lomachenko, on the other hand, is a veteran. Nevertheless, many of us thought his fight with Haney was – for lack of a better word – a robbery. Loma has incredible footwork, partly owing to early dance lessons as a child. The importance of footwork is at times underrated by the less initiated, but today’s rising stars show that the speed of their fists is generated by, and dependent on, their footwork. The lightweight/featherweight fighters are putting on all the shows at the moment, and they give hope to the world of boxing. But what about the heavyweights? 

We are yet to see the top-tier match-ups of the lower weight classes translate into heavyweight fights of the highest calibre. Wilder vs AJ is said to be in the making, but we have been promised these types of fights (Fury vs Usyk, remember?) without any follow-through. The future of the sport – not to sound too dramatic – depends on these types of fights. 

Boxing can still be saved, and the saviours are seemingly in the lower weight classes.

So what does the future hold in store? Haney vs Shakur Stevensson seems to be a natural next fight. Surely, Tank will want in on the action soon too. On top of that you have Frank Martin with a 17-0 record and William Zepada at 28-0. If the best face the best, some of these records will be shattered, but for the good of boxing it is necessary to sacrifice these unblemished records. 

Boxing can still be saved, and the saviours are seemingly in the lower weight classes. The international appeal is still the greatest when it comes to heavyweights and they seem to know this. Hence the request for outrageous sums of money to do their job. When you risk your health, this may well be understandable. These are athletes who dedicate their lives to training and to perfecting their craft. It’s no a game, it’s a profession, and celebrating YouTube boxing as if it were nothing akin to to boxing degrades the art. We ought to be grateful for the pro-shows we have to look forward to, and if the past months are anything to go by, there is hope yet that professional boxing regains its rightful place instead of social media sensationalism. 

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