Do I have to understand the ‘business’ of boxing?

There is a lot written about the boxing business. I know, because I’ve contributed to the digital morass over the years. The decoding of boxing’s uniquely improvised jazz chords is something I’ve grown tired of. I was happy to prove my grasp of its trills and chromatic harmony at the peak of my immersion. Approaching 50, I’m a much more weary listener.

A pandemic forced a detachment from boxing sufficient to bring a more pointed perspective. It distilled the apathy and acceptance I shared with most older observers and created a more potent cocktail of impatience and disillusionment. Why do I need to understand and acknowledge the sanctioning bodies and their duplicitous ways, why do I need to respect the motivations of different platforms, promoters, managers, business models?

Do I really need to know about purse splits, percentages, the chemistry of performance enhancing drugs, testing, suspensions?

Should any of us have to justify fighters boxing once a year, retaining baubles and trinkets engraved with champion but holding none of the substance of one. Do I believe 14 week camps are really about perfecting technique? That zero body fat and instagram followings make Johnny Newbie a great while their predecessors, the coffin nails of the past, with their dozen defeats and broken bodies, are dismissed as the equivalent of cave drawings in a high definition world?

Must I be a modernist? Polarised online as camp Crawford or camp Spence. Do I have to pick a side, Hearn or Warren, Al or Bob? Must I forgive fighters their inactivity? Their excuses? Must I tolerate Interim champions, Super Champions and Bridgerweight? Must I feel guilt for hoping for more from our heroes, from the champions? More daring? More risk?

Boxing wasn’t right in the old days. And it isn’t all wrong now. It wasn’t perfect or failed in between either. But what is new, what is worse, is the layers of understanding expected of modern boxing fans. The explanations required to communicate the significance of a bout, to make the sport accessible for newcomers, is staggering. And I’m tired of being told to ‘understand the business’, of finding the innocence of the uninitiated fan annoying, it isn’t their fault, weary of being required to ‘educate’ because boxing makes a simple premise impossible to tune in to and grasp the fight’s place in the sporting hierarchy. I don’t need two colour commentators. I don’t need replays on split screen in the middle of the next round.

I don’t care which platform fights appear on, do you? I don’t care what the split is, who the promoter is, who enters the ring first or which belts are awarded to the winner, just make Crawford v Spence and Joshua v Fury next and stop patronising fans with warm ups, semi-finals, tick overs, tales of marinating, matador mandatories, “next year” and sitting out a contract tantrums.

There are obvious fights to make. Make them and be grateful they are there to be made.

Larry and Rocky would’ve loved to have had rivals. Joe needed a few more too.

Don’t waste any more time.

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