Pessimism or its younger sibling, apathy, often irks leading figures in the sport of boxing. It’s easy to suggest boxing is in crisis, close to self-destruction and disappearance as a sport of note amongst an increasingly disinterested new generation of sporting fans.
In truth more fights are available on television than ever before and with the additional viral availability on the net it’s plausible to make the case that as a spectator sport boxing is ruddy cheeked and ready for the new year.
The selection of Ricky Hatton, the cheeky Mancunian and permanently glum Joe Calzaghe for the almost entirely spurious BBC Sports Personality Award could also point to a resurgence in the fortunes of the noble art.
The truth, for the pessimists out there, is more in keeping with the doomsday vision usually proffered by writers and fans in the widlerness of the Internet message boards. Not to dismiss Calzaghe and Hatton’s achievements. Both remained unbeaten, both secured additional titles in 2006 but equally, both are enjoying attention because of greater failure by others.
Had England’s football, rugby, tennis or cricket professionals enjoyed success in their respective fields this year, or even the suggestion thereof – neither Calzaghe or Hatton would have made the short-list.
Hatton fought once. Came precariously close to losing and Calzaghe though resplendent in victory over Jeff Lacy looked far from a fighter at his pinnacle in his last contest. And neither Lacy nor Collazo, who Hatton squeaked by to win the WBA Welterweight title would win a popularity or notoriety contest.
Despite those misgivings, I’ll be voting for one of them. The sport needs the boost.