Who is the current face of boxing?

Four Corners

November 13, 2009

An identity crisis
Fred Mitchell, Chicago Tribune

The face of boxing today is a tattooed police mug shot.

Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson no longer fights in a sanctioned ring, yet his criminal reputation and name recognition resonate throughout the world - whether he is involved in an airport scuffle with a photographer, as he was this week in Los Angeles, or appearing on Oprah's show, revealing his sensitive side.

The current state of boxing suffers from an identity crisis. Fans simply need to know who the meaningful personalities are - positive and negative - as they sift through the many layers of championship belts and sanctioning bodies. Mixed martial arts has taken over your father's favorite topic of conversation at the barber shop. Ain't that a kick below the belt?


The 'People's Champion'
Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times

Manny Pacquiao, the "People's Champion" from the Philippines, has emerged as the sport's biggest draw by unleashing furious entertainment of speed and power, dismantling Oscar De La Hoya 11 months ago and stunning boxing veterans by moving up in weight so effectively.

In May, boxing's 2008 fighter of the year scored the knockout of the year with his second-round removal of 140-pound Ricky Hatton.

His smile and good humor outside the ring win him an audience expected to make his Saturday night fight against world welterweight champion Miguel Cotto the most lucrative bout of the year.

Another impressive triumph will set up what some are referring to as boxing's Super Bowl against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr.


Witness to greatness
Paul Doyle, Hartford Courant

The face of boxing will be on display Saturday night in Las Vegas.

Critics who say the sport lacks star power haven't been paying attention. Not only is Manny Pacquiao the best fighter of his generation, but we're also witnessing one of the great careers in history.

If Pacquiao beats Miguel Cotto for the WBO welterweight title - and we fully expect him to win - he will be the first boxer in history to win titles in seven weight classes.

That's a record for the ages, whether the mainstream sports fan has noticed or not. Around the world, Pacquiao is a star. In the U.S., he's a peripheral figure in a peripheral sport. So blame his sport for losing relevance. But give Pacquiao his due as one of the greats.


Problem is nobody cares
George Diaz, Orlando Sentinel


That is the face of boxing.

I love the sport. But it's on life support, for reasons that are fairly obvious.

No great American heavyweights. The rise of ultimate fighting as an alternative blood-sport. The glut of championship belts parceled out by all the alphabet soup organizations.

The fact that Mike Tyson still has major relevance when he sadly has become not much more than a circus freak tells you everything you need to know about the sad state of the sport.

Pacquiao-Cotto should be one of the greatest fights of the year Saturday night. Sunday morning, boxing will be right back to status quo: Nobody cares.


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