The era of MMA is upon us. My coach Freddie Gatica calls it 'bum fighting'. He laments the rise of the game: "the whole purpose is to get good enough so that you don't wind up on the ground." I tend to agree. But the answer asks a more specific question, what is at the heart of 'getting good enough' at this boxing thing?
Answer: I don't know, but I've got an idea. On some level, somewhere deep and profound, this game is about artistic yet effective violence. Some combat sports, tae kwon do, most of karate, have an artistic element to them but are inherently lacking in effective, applicable violence. Boxing is not.
In the game of 'bum fighting' as Gatica called it, boxers are beginning to make their mark, to the detriment of our sport. Look up Marcus "the Irish Hand-grenade" Davis to see what a pedigreed boxer can do when he learns to survive on the ground. The base of boxing will continue to be ripped out, prospects sucked into the ever-growing limelight of MMA.
But still, there are some boxers, purveyors of artistic violence applicable in every arena, who ply their trade beautifully for us in the waning years of our sport.
Joe Calzaghe is a great athlete, but he is not one of those boxers. Joe is not a purveyor of artistic, applicable violence; he trades in the art of something else. And while we can cheer for his heart, determination, athleticism and unorthodox talent, he is a punch-line on the end of an MMA joke. That's a shame because our game deserves a better cultural representative right now, and it desperately needs one.
Joe lacks power. But more importantly, Joe has no intention of using power. Calzaghe's intention is to smother and push pace without ever closing his hands. And that's fine, that's his style and even his 'legacy', one poster on this sight said.
If that's the case, if a legitimate style in boxing includes what I saw last night, I'm not interested in watching. I can watch more effective boxing, in an applicable sense, in a different arena, in a different game.
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