The statement "boxing is dead" is false. Like with many facets of life, we don't like change unless the changing entity turns out exactly how we envisioned it. The previous generation admonishes the current one for "ruining" what was once good. As these newly self-appointed elders rain down their criticisms, they overlook the fact the same rebellious spirit that fostered their era of music is in the youth, and that is not to be stifled.
However, the sentiment behind boxing being dead has some merit to it. There is, uh, was only one boxer with mega-fight appeal, and the sport is looking to fill that void in its wallet left by man with the apropos nickname. There are quite a few supremely talented, young and hungry, championship-caliber fighters in multiple weight classes able to provide entertaining fights. So why don't we care? Why don't these boxers — phenoms and established champions alike — generate similar buzz?
Allow me to treat the sport of boxing like the X-Men Universe. Floyd Mayweather is any movie or comic that prominently features Wolverine. While Mayweather was still active, boxing tried to develop interest in its lesser-known and upcoming talent. Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin and Peter Quillin are three of a sizable amount of really good fighters in different weight classes who are both talented and entertaining. But they're not the Wolverine. They do not possess the charisma to demand the purse and gate money Floyd does. Even as their fights do fairly well, comparatively, boxing had more than a taste of the arena-loads of dollars we spent to see The Artist Formerly Known As Pretty Boy Floyd.
A movie about Gambit may do well, but Gambit isn't a hero with the name big enough to make a series of mediocre cash grabs from solely his presence. Right now, boxing is full of Gambits: good, and with a niche following of those in the know, but lacking the standalone name necessary to attract casual fans. Keith Thurman is a good example of this. Thurman is young, hungry for the throne, skilled, honorable and undefeated. Yet outside of true enthusiasts, few people want to see him fight. Even as he flaunts his bravado in post-fight interviews, calling out Floyd, he does not make anyone gravitate toward him. However, he is necessary to keep boxing's universe intact.
At the core of head-to-head competitive sports lies the ideal there is one side to root for and one side to root against. Even if a fan does not utterly despise the opposition, said opposition is standing in the way of victory. What is overlooked about this ideal is that we having a craving for our heroes to have adversaries. We love rivalries — the nastier and hate-filled the better. At the moment, boxing does not have that. There is no evildoer we would like to see toppled. The reason for this, and this further exalted Floyd to me, is that there is no one who is great in the ring and on the microphone. Boxing is a career in which its participants are bad-asses above the norm by virtue of claiming it as a profession. So in a world where everyone is extraordinary, one must stand out in order to receive the love (or hate) from the people.
Comics and movies do not document in detail the times where one of the X-Men apprehended a common henchman. Those are the tune-up fights for the real battles against foes with the abilities that make for a riveting superhuman clash. Take Andre Ward, the sport's best pound-for-pound fighter around. His technical skill is otherworldly, but his lack of charisma makes Tim Duncan appear magnetic. As much as I would like to see The SoG receive the checks his punching ability is worth, I understand that the casual fans just do not care about him. He has not become the hero we deserve and has lived long enough to see himself become uninteresting.
We need a hero. We need a villain. I don't know which we need more, but someone must swoop in to renew our hope in boxing. Otherwise, the popularity of the sport may die, and we're left with the hypocrites of yesteryear being proven right.
Poemer. 8-time Hug Champion. Pick&Roll Enthusiast. Guardian of Logic and Tact. Apocalypse's good Brother. Collector of muted souls for Mt. Filtermanjaro.