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Why does boxing emulate wrestling? ...


Will somebody please splain to me why boxing seems to want to be more like wrestling than it does try to be a serious sport worthy of its once-exalted status in both its amateur and professional incarnations.

I had more or less abandoned the sport for a couple of decades or so as it reveled in all of the inane self-inflicted confusion and idiocy that has been rampant over that span. And then I kind of accidentally watched Manny Pacquiao defeat Miguel Cotto for the Welterweight Championship last fall and I was hooked once again.

I saw the fight on HBO a week or so after it took place, but it was the best boxing match I had seen since Muhammad Ali’s tangles with Joe Frazier. With my longstanding affection for all things Filipino, I promptly declared myself a Pacquiao fan and decided I would eagerly await the Super Fight with Floyd Mayweather.

And then the B.S. started.

I know, I know, with the hundreds of millions of dollars at stake the epic battle is probably still going to take place sooner or later, but now the two camps are wrangling over blood and urine. And my question is essentially: Why in the hell does boxing allow the parameters of how its matches are contested to be something that is part of the negotiations between the two fighters?

Gee, I am so naive that I thought the sport’s governing body(ies) would determine important considerations like testing for drugs, etc. I suppose it’s also likely that this silly wrangling over whether Pacquiao can withstand the rigors of a blood test within two weeks of his match is nothing more than a publicity ploy, but I grouse about it because it makes the sport and its practitioners – boxers, officials, media, etc. – look stupid in the process.

Golly, how much blood do they actually extract for these things? Perhaps we have spent too much time watching that other HBO extravaganza “True Blood.”

Nearly 30 years ago when I worked for the Empire State Games in New York, our offices in Albany were about 30 feet away from the chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, which at the time was former Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson.

I would catch him napping with his feet up on his desk from time to time and with his office door opened a tiny crack, which was no big deal lest anyone think that’s some kind of criticism.

But what I found most interesting about the NYS Athletic Commission was the fact that at the time it had professional wrestling under its domain as well as boxing. One seemed like a legitimate sport – including a considerable presence at the amateur level in our Empire State Games – and the other seemed more like, uh, entertainment.

I understand that the borrowing back and forth between the two would be inevitable, but sadly it seems like over the last 30 years boxing has become more like wrestling than the other way around.

Maybe that wouldn’t have been so bad, except that over the same span wrestling was becoming more like the Jerry Springer Show than it was moving toward boxing.

But assuming they get this silliness behind them, I am going to be watching that fight in some fashion or other. And I’ll be rooting for the Filipino.

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