Where have all the blockbusters gone? There are still a few every year. Many more to those that follow boxing closely. But why isn't boxing headlining the way it use to? Why don't today's starts shine as bright as those from yesterday? Can the current lineup compare to any one of the golden ages of boxing? Could it be the lack of star power or just the lack of good scripts? Some argue simply, without a compelling heavyweight champion, boxing lacks The Right Stuff.
But here's some Weird Science... The early 80's certainly fall into the category of a golden age. And there are many similarities to then and now. Both eras are topped by heavyweight champions that don't garner much attention or praise. Larry Holmes then, and Klitschko now, are both viewed more by what they aren't than what they are, and what they're opponents haven't been instead of what they have. It is clear that the heavies didn't rule then, and they aren't ruling now.
Is there just not enough star power today to fill the gloves of the legendary leading men of the early 80's? The burgeoning 80's were ruled by the a fab four who made their fame in and around the welterweight division. Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Tommy Hearns and Mavin Hagler certainly supplied some Big Chills and are now considered Untouchables.
But what if it was possible to remake those Fast Times today? The casting call would go out to Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquio, Paul Williams and Shane Mosley. What are the major differences? Is there something these stars lack that the royal four didn't? Why are the guys from the 80's considered Raging Bulls and today's formidable four considered Odinary People?. How close could they come to fitting the bill?
"Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather as the original pretty boy, Sugar Ray Leonard. Both men are known to be huge draws with charisma to spare. Floyd talks faster and brasher, but Leonard was what was called back then "well spoken." Equally great talkers in their own way, blessed with fast smiles and faster hands. Neither was ever known for their toughness and their manliness is often questioned by fans and opponents.
Sugar Ray and Money stand as big time money makers for their time. Both men known to be fast and quick movers inside the ring, and excellent boxers with an eye towards opportunities outside the ring. Sugar had some of his biggest, and biggest grossing fights after his initial retirement. Floyd has the same opportunity after his early retirement in 2008/09. They are the biggest name of their bunch.
Manny Pacquio as Roberto Duran. Both come from incredibly poor environments that make American ghettos seem like The Hills. Duran and Pacman started out as very rough diamonds with relentless styles. Manny initially trained in Muay Thai. Duran was initially void of any specialized training. Both turned pro at 16, and each man ran through weight classes like Holyfield through baby mammas, starting at lightweight and willing to top out where the fight was. Both men earned their victories as huge punchers with great chins.
Paulie Williams as Tommy "The Hitman" Hearns. Nobody could believe that Tommy could fit into a welterweight's robe. He was 6'1 with a 78 inch reach. He was always willing to fight anyone. And was a tough fight to take for everyone. Easily and willingly moved up to light heavy. Williams is 6'1 with a 82 inch reach. Nobody can believe that he fits into a welterweight's trunks. He chases fighters in many divisions, willing to fight anyone and a tough fight for anyone to take. Could even one day see him at light heavy.
Shane Mosely as Marvelous Marvin Hagler. While Hagler was the dominating force of his time, Shane is not quite there. Hagler dominated the middleweight division and was champion for seven years. Shane did hold a belt at middle. And totaling all his championships, he's been a belt holder for almost six. They also are both African American fighters, who have often been over shadowed by contemporaries. Forgive a little artistic license with this one.
The current quartet should all be headlining shows in multiplexes all over the world. Instead, some are relatively confined to art houses and dollar theaters. This macho cuatro has big names, some even in mainstream America. They have the styles to make some epic, all-time clashes. Why is it so different now?
The Oscars and Viewers Choice goes to the 80's Smack Pack for one Shining reason.
They fought each other a total of 9 times. Dozens and dozens and dozens of rounds spent together.
The modern version of the unfocused four fought a total of zero times. Zero and zeros and zeros of rounds spent together.
Good movies in Hollywood make your name. Blockbusters make your fame. In boxing, winning belts makes your name. Inside the pound-for-pound list makes your fame.
To today's fractioned four, do you want to be famous? Well, do ya?