Before the advent of the internet, specifically the explosion of available answers to every conceivable question, and the need to finesse the ensuing search results to more manageable quantities, filters, in common parlance, would only be found in conversations about car engines, or perhaps a fish tank sufficiently grand to require a pump. Not the bowling ball sized hell my own goldfish endured for a year or two but one of those with an apologetic piece of plastic seaweed or perhaps an ornamental bridge or lost ship wreck. You know, fancy ones. The type of thing people with a caravan had in their hall, those who drank coffee not tea, used sunflower spread not butter back in the seventies. Holidayed in France. You know the type.
Both applications remain relevant today of course, though you may need a safe cracker, with a sideline as a contortionist to find and replace a filter on a modern combustion engine, even a car has to ask Alexa to diagnose a fault these days. Fish in captivity do still need something to keep the flotsam and jetsam at bay too, not as much as their free swimming cousins a ‘green’ wag might suppose, but I digress.
Digression, meandering from the appointed subject matter, to all things environmental is a path I’ve noted I tread more frequently these days. Perhaps, like so many things, middle life illuminates the spectre of mortality sufficiently to demand introspection, maybe I’m faddy by nature and this is merely the latest. Certainly, it’s a process, or a muse, that can render the minutiae of the boxing world, and by minutiae I mean the corruption, cheating and narcissism it is engulfed by, particularly meaningless. Nobody seems to want to leave a mark any more. To leave the much opined legacy to the historians of the future, too often those who talk the most of building one, a legacy that is, lay the fewest bricks.
My increasing apathy toward boxing, and dissolving willingness to prop up its importance and value by the fanciful idylls we impose on it is not unique to me. Boxing fans are unified, if you indulge me beyond the pun, by the purity we all originally find within it. Whenever or wherever that moment occurred. Episodes of greatness, the glory of human spirit, the courage and skill, the heroism drawn from the most humble participants, this is the palette with which boxing paints its greatest master pieces. And enthrals the impressionable.
But boxing in 2019 is not fulfilling the promise those moments made to us and, perhaps even more vitally, is failing to create new touchstone fights for potential fans to embrace as their own. You can only claim possession of fights that occurred during your lifetime, much though I would love to remember The Rumble in the Jungle, or Marciano knocking out Walcott perhaps, I can’t. They can’t be my fights. I have McGuigan versus Pedroza in the smoke and mist at Loftus Road. I have Herol Graham, I have Lennox. Naz. I have Danny Williams knocking out Kali Meehan.
Of course, by definition there can only be one ‘greatest three round fight of all time’, one first time when your parents let you stay up late to watch the fight, first knockout viewed from ringside, in the same way there could only be one Jackie Wilson and one first kiss. But there should be frequent remastering of the classic works at least. The best Middleweights, the best Welterweights, the best Featherweights, they should be fighting each other. Should be creating new moments, creating new fans.
For all the genius of social media and the reach of viral videos, boxing can surely not capture new disciples with images from beside infinity pools, pitter-patter routines with sponge sticks and 8-pack stomach reveals. Instagram filters throw a hue across our would be heroes, but filters lie. Unlike their on line namesakes, they don’t get us closer to the truth. To the magic. Can inactivity, fast cars and 7% BMI really stir a youngster’s dopamine centre like Hagler Hearns or Barrera Morales did our own generation? Will any ensuing relationship only ever be as superficial as the content? That first kiss will always be vital.
This weekend brings forward an opportunity for boxing to offer something dramatic, exciting, intoxicating. If we smudge out the astericks of Saul Alvarez’s failed drugs test last year and focus on the here and now, Saturday’s fight between the sport’s most lucrative attraction and Daniel Jacobs, the consensus number three at middleweight, constitutes a timely reminder that when the sport returns to its founding principles, there is hope that new seminal moments can be created.
Apply the most selective filters to all 17, yes 17, weight classes, and this fight would be one of the best dozen to be made. The fight can never be Hagler Hearns, nor does the obscurity of the platform it will appear on aide it’s prospects of resonating as widely as it might have done, but it ticks all the required boxes to at least try.
A new fan can never possess or be possessed by Marvin and Tommy in the way we were, and in the starkness of that reality and as a potential beacon in another wise moribund 2019, I wish their would be successors Saul and Danny all the best in their quest to fill their shoes.
For on the subsequent weekends, I hold no such hope for Joshua v Ruiz Jnr, Fury v Schwarz or Wilder v Breazeale.