By Scoop Malinowski
Bobby Gunn, the boxer and bare-fist fighting champion started a discussion on Facebook about boxing journalists not doing the sport justice in their coverage largely because most press guys never boxed or have been punches in the face. I pondered the topic and countered with the suggestion that boxing is struggling to give the fans and writers proper and adequate inspiration to write about the sport.
There are very few interesting characters today. Bernard Hopkins, Lennox Lewis, Emanuel Steward, Angelo Dundee, Eddie Futch, Antonio Tarver, Don King, Joe Byrd, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Lou Duva were such fascinating people. I watched the Kovalev vs Ward press conference yesterday on live stream and it was dull. Nobody said anything remotely interesting.
It seems like the true characters of the fistic scene are all gone now. Floyd Mayweather is a scripted bore. The UFC has a dynamic superhero in Conor McGregor who is a fascinating electric personality. McGregor’s confidence and spontaneous speaking straight from the heart is Muhammad Ali-like. Boxing does not have anyone like McGregor. Everybody in boxing today seems afraid or unwilling to say anything to offend – or they work off pre-scripted cliches.
Tyson Fury was the exception with his controversial outspoken comments but he has been railroaded out of the sport. With the exception of Fury, nobody in boxing really sparks any kind of controversy. There’s no edgy drama, no tensions flaring, and no grudge fights happening now. Almost all the fights today seem like business arrangements. Boxing is also missing that psychological warfare element. Gosh I really miss prime Hopkins. Who could forget his long winded but fascinating monologues spoken in veils and double meanings. Hopkins had the intelligence to go after the powers that be without really naming them. It was fascinating. When Hopkins was an outsider his interviews and press conferences were just unbelievable. He could literally psyche out opponents with WORDS and speaking CONFIDENCE. He could size up anyone and break them down or psyche them out verbally. Who could forget Hopkins breaking down Tito Trinidad at the final press conference, actually describing how the fight would end – with poppa Trinidad stepping in to save his son from further punishment. Who could forget Hopkins giving Trinidad (at the final press conference) his “last meal” before his “execution.” And who could forget Trinidad literally shaking with rage during their final staredown at the ultra tense weigh in.
Now that Hopkins is part of the establishment he’s far less interesting because he knows he can’t rock the boat like he used to. Hopkins can’t rock the boat because he’s on the boat.
All sports are star driven. Right now boxing has a shortage of transcending authentic stars and characters which intrigue the public and inspire them to want to pay to watch world championship calibre boxing.