Wrestling with the Fate of Professional Boxing

April 01, 2008 05:23 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Mayweather’s foray into WWE wrestling calls attention to the state of professional boxing, which, according to a recent book, has been in decline since Tyson’s collapse. 

30-Second Summary

The WWE wrestling match between the 5’8”, 159-pound Floyd Mayweather and the 7-foot, 440-pound “Big Show” on Sunday drew a large and enthusiastic audience.

The financial and promotional success of the event (which was “won” by Mayweather with the help of brass knuckles and a steel chair) is not in question. Whether the fight is indicative of boxing’s downfall is another story.

Boxing is already a shell of its former self, according to the book The Last Great Fight: The Extraordinary Tale of Two Men and How One Fight Changed Their Lives Forever, reviewed by the City Journal. While the electric appeal of Mike Tyson in the late 80s had injected new life into the sport, Tyson’s loss in the 1990 championship match to James “Buster” Douglas changed everything. The day Tyson fell from greatness would signal boxing’s downfall, City Journal suggests.

With the days of Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson and even Mike Tyson long gone, Floyd Mayweather enters the stage. The charismatic boxer is not only a superb fighter, undefeated in the welterweight circuit, but an entertainer, too.

Mayweather fought Oscar De La Hoya last year in a match hyped to rescue the boxing industry—an industry floundering because of scandals, disorganization, and the rise of ultimate fighting.

Dave Larzelere of Slate admits that Mayweather is no Muhammad Ali, or at least not yet. But Larzelere indicates that Mayweather’s attempt at wrestling is reminiscent of Ali. Like Ali, the brazen Mayweather exhibits the “villainous” personality adopted at first by Ali. But Ali transformed that bad-guy persona into an image more straightforwardly heroic that would make him “The Greatest.”

Headline Links: Mayweather at WrestleMania and boxing’s alleged decline

Background: Oscar De La Hoya fights Mayweather

Biographies: Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather

Muhammad Ali
Floyd Mayweather

Video: 'Andre the Giant vs. Chuck Wepner'

Related Topics: Cassius Clay defeats Sonny Liston, and a guide to boxing

Reference: ‘The Last Great Fight’


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