In most other sports, participants over the age of 35 are eligible for the Senior Tour. A parallel competition established to provide escape for the tired former champions to continue to earn a crust away from the intensity of their youthful counterparts. Tennis is a prime example, few top line players can sustain themselves beyond the age of 28 or 29, and though each generation throws up an exception from Conners to Ivanisevic, the rule of thumb applies – by 30 your done. Sadly for boxing, and particularly in the heavyweight division – though the trend is extended throughout the weight classes – 30 is simply the beginning. And it isn’t a good thing.
The latest former champion to ignore the obvious and return for another title run is two-time heavyweight champion and one time fearsome Light-Heavyweight Michael Moorer. An old 39. A contest with Crawford Grimsley, a fighter most known for surviving 12 rounds with an 79 year old George Foreman – OK he wasn’t 79 but you get the point – will prove as interesting and meaningful as the last time Moorer laced them up – knockout victory over veteran trial horse Cliff Couser.
Last time he attempted a meaningful run it culminated in a 2002 fight with David Tua, a fighter with molasses where his leg muscles should be and 30 pounds above his own premium weight. Moorer didn’t last a round. One would think a crushing defeat to a by then disinterested and frankly sloppy Tua would provide all the evidence required to conclude Moorer’s fantastic career once and for all. It didn’t. Additionally, a developing interest in training fighters, and he has plenty to offer aspiring professionals, should have provided sufficient interest to keep Moorer on the ‘right’ side of the ring. It didn’t. He returned once more and though dropping a decision to green Cuban Eliseo Castillo he then beat tied Cruiserweight Vassiley Jirov in a come from behind performance in 2004.
In the intervening period he considered a comeback and was talked out of it by long-time trainer Teddy Atlas on live radio. A unique but thoroughly correct decision. I think by the time Moorer reached the fridge from the phone, he’d changed his mind again.
So here we are, every writer around the globe now has a press release detailing the latest installment in Moorer’s story in their inbox and to be honest, it’s a crying shame. Both for Moorer who can only further dilute his achievements with his present flabby frame and lack of spark and for the division as a whole which accommodates a herd of ageing veterans still contemplating title shots. In fact, only Samuel Peter is a meaningful contender with an age starting with a 2, rather than a 3 or a 4.
Evander Holyfield, Matt Skelton, Oliver McCall, Henry Akinwande, James Toney, Oleg Maskaev, Shannon Briggs, John Ruiz and Chris Byrd are all the wrong side of 35.
Boxing’s blue ribbon division desperately needs an eager young puncher or a charismatic contender to emerge because presently the big men are a moribund bunch. I’m not suggesting Moorer is prevented from fighting, if he is medically fit to do so and wants to. I just wish there were some fighters in the division that made announcements by shot-former champions of even less interest than they presently are. In the absence of new, fans are relying on old.