"Winning Isn't Everything; It's The Only Thing" ..... Henry Russell "Red" Sanders (UCLA circa 1950)
No it isn't. At least, not in boxing!
The well known quotation often attributed to Vince Lombardi isn't wrong, it's just not complete. In boxing, how you win ius just as important to the fans, both hardcore and casual, as if you win. Fans come to be entertained. Often the style of a given fighter will attract and sustain a following and an audience. More often than not, however, it is the style in which a fighter wins that matters most.
Let me be very clear. Andre Ward is a winner. He prepares to win and he comes to win. He is very talented and he has a record to back it up. He has an unbroken string of victories stretching back through his amateur career that extends to and through his win last night over Arthur Abraham last night. He does everything Virgil hunter has trained him to do and he he does it very well. He meets virtually every qualification of a true champion.
Except for One. He does not dispatch his opponents with extreme prejudice. In fact, he does not dispatch them with prejudice at all. He just wins.
Boxing is already dominated at it's top by a great champion, Vladimir Klitcschko; another vanquisher of all whom dare to claim his title. The younger Klitschko wins methodically but not spectacularly. We should all have such problems.
But it is a problem. His own trainer, Emanuel Steward, has been his most vocal supporter and his most vocal critic; literally yelling at him to knock his man out.
Tim Bradley and Andre Ward are the two best young American born fighters of their generation holding titles. They may hold them for some time. But the problem is not very many care. Not many at home, not many afar.
Outscoring one's opponent is great. Tattooing and battering them is better. But what most boxing fans and almost all fight fans come and pay to watch is real power. In other words, knockouts.
Ward and Bradley may gain power. Or not. The price for not doing so however will determine their price in the fair market for boxing. In other words, their purses. And purses are based on eyeballs. Ours.
Personally, I'm watching but still waiting.
What about you?
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