Being around the sport of boxing for over 20 years, I've been privileged to observe some of history's best both in and out of the ring. Mike Tyson fights were like modern day Super Bowls, with all the excitement and buzz they created. Don King press conferences would attract observers like Michael Jackson's father Joe or "Personality" singer Lloyd Price. Back in the heyday, celebrities were magnetized to the sport in awe of the gladiators, now it seems the reverse is so, and some of the stars (Justin Beiber) are even paid to make the scene look cool and hip.
I remember the days when Atlantic City would host a world title fight about every month. And people like John F. Kennedy Jr., Donald Trump, Joe Dimaggio, Norman Mailer, Hunter Thompson, Bo Derek, Christie Brinkley, Oprah Winfrey, Derek Jeter, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf and Julio Iglesias would be at ringside.
But boxing has faded in recent years, for a variety of reasons, which we won't discuss now. Boxing is on the floor at the moment with a bloody eyebrow. And if there's any chance, any hope for boxing to get up and regain it's status as the ultimate most respected and admired sport in the world, it must produce exciting fighters and exciting fights. The rest will fall into place.
This weekend's G4 boxing event at Madison Square Garden has all the potential to restore order and set boxing back in the right direction. The card is stacked with talent. On top, is arguably the best fighter in the sport today, the amazing Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan, risking his middleweight title against the quite formidable Australian Daniel Geale.
Then there's the heavyweight clash of unbeaten contenders Bryant Jennings of Philadelphia and Mike "Rebel" Perez of Cuba and now living in County Cork, Ireland.
Still more, the undercard features crowd-pleasing Glen Tapia and highly regarded American teenager/Manny Pacquiao sparmate Julian Rodriguez in his fourth pro fight.
Another impressive aspect of this show is how all four main fighters have conducted themselves, each like throw back fighters of the past. As promoter Gary Shaw noted at today's final press conference, "All through the promotion, these four fighters have shown nothing but respect and admiration for each other, there have been no insults, no trash talking, no trainer arguments." Just the boxers behaving like champions, like Joe Louis, Felix Trinidad, Joe Frazier, Wladimir Klitschko, Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield.
Yes it's true that boxing is in a crucial phase right now. With all the titles, weight classes, ducking, excuses, protecting, garbage fights by Al Haymon and Floyd Mayweather, bad decisions, boxing make the right moves to get back on track.
The G4 show on Saturday night has this fan very excited and enthused again about the future of boxing.
Geale: "I'm going to try my best in this fight."
Jennings: "The best heavweight in the world will showcase his skills on Saturday night."
Perez: "I can't wait for this fight."
Golovkin: "Thank you all for coming, I hope you will enjoy the fight on Saturday night."
Fred Jenkins: "Anything Perez can do, Bryant will top him."
Adam Booth: "Mike Perez has done things in the gym I've never seen any other heavyweight do."