JOE FRAZIER 'THEY'RE MAKING GIRLS OUT OF OUR MEN!'
The recent passing on of legendary heavyweight boxer, Joe Frazier, should serve as food for thought as well as a source of sadness and mourning to the boxing world.
The death of 'Smokin' Joe' represents the gradual disappearance of the true warriors, who once rose to the top of a brutal, infinitely competitive world of professional prize fighting. These were men in the truest sense of the word, who not only took on all challengers, but also relished the struggle to prove themselves the best in the world.
'They're making girls out of our men,' lamented Frazier on the Fox News, Neil Cavuto show, Your World. 'We were better men in those days; we were stronger and smarter. We were better men.'
The champ was referring to the move to cut championship fights from 15 to 12 rounds, but he was speaking a lot more truth than, maybe, he realised.
Of course, the fighters of yesterday were better.
Now versus then, fantasy contests never make much sense and are better left to video games and chat room arguments, but as responsible, tough-as nail fighters, these guys today just can't compare to the old school battlers. This isn't to say that today's boxing scene isn't full of awesome talents and quality fighters. It's just that the sport has degenerated to such a degree that these warriors are just not being showcased in the types of fights that build character and energize fans anymore.
Manny Pacquiao is an awesome fighter with some real wars in his past, but he has spent the last several years fighting re-treads and fighters limping into bouts as damaged goods. Floyd Mayweather has spent his prime years retiring, un-retiring, and trying to manoeuvre in a world where promotional rival, Top Rank holds all the money cards.
Sergio Martinez is the undisputed middleweight champion of the world, but has been stripped of all belts and can't find a meaningful bout with a quality opponent. The Klitschko brothers rule an anaemic heavyweight division with not a single true challenger to be found anywhere.
A look around the sport will reveal a load of undeserving world champions, more than a handful of old-timers, who should not be in the ring anymore, and several elite fighters who either can't find or won't find a suitable challenge.
Back in Frazier's day, the elite worked their way to the top and, once on the main stage, battled one another to see who was the best of the best. At the highest level, mismatches, indeed took place, but they were accompanied by true challenges. Promotional rivalries and politics didn't cripple the matchmaking process and the fans were actually treated with respect.