Fast forward five years later to October, 1980. The same Muhammad Ali came out of retirement to seek a fourth World Heavyweight Boxing Championship reign in a fight against the defending champion, Larry Holmes.
Holmes, the reigning but not quite respected champion was taking on the man for whom he had served as a sparring partner , Ali. Muhammad, still laying claim to the title “The Greatest”, was coming back to try to capture lightning in a bottle one last time in front of what at this time was an adoring public. The result? Holmes scored the second biggest win of his career as he defeated Ali in 11 rounds.
Now skip along in time once more to January of 1988. Holmes, now a tired, worn down former champion was on a quest, much like Ali eight years earlier, to seize boxing’s biggest championship with a win over a guy named Iron Mike Tyson. In a fight that was promoted way longer than it lasted, Tyson gave Holmes his only career knockout in the third round to retain the title.
These historic fights were not only iconic, but memorable even now 20 and 30 years later. They present us a question: Why don’t we have these types of fights today? What was the last pro boxing match you saw that was a spectacular display of athleticism and truly memorable? I for one, can’t name you one in the last ten years.
Some of the most enjoyable memories of my youth were those of my dad, mom and I watching two or three times a year in prime-time television, a major heavyweight boxing match. Names like Ali, Foreman, Norton, Frazier, Quarry, Holmes and Spinks were known by not only Dad and I, but Mom too as they were on television so much along with announcer Howard Cosell.
Today’s boxing names don’t even ring a bell with most people. The Klitschko’s, Chagaev, Valuev, Haye, and Toney aren’t as memorable or as exciting. Pro boxing, as a result, is dying in terms of it’s fan base. But until some new, exciting young bloods take the sport by storm, pro boxing is no longer memorable or exciting - it’s just depressing. And for now, that’s boxing’s big news.
That’s how I see it from the other side of the desk. See ya down the road - just not at ringside!