Pound4Pound, Boxing News


  Has Boxing Lost Me?

By Dave Wilcox

“Boxing is dead”

It’s an old and tired cliché that I’m tired of hearing, but to be honest, that very thought continues to run through my pea brain on a consistent basis. If you ask Manny Pacquiao’s or Floyd Mayweather’s accountants, Boxing is certainly not dead by any stretch of the imagination.

For me however, the sport of Boxing doesn’t carry the same weight it once did. I have been a fanatical fan of the sweet science since the tender age of eight years old. I marveled at the big screen as Rocky Balboa had his two bouts with Apollo Creed. As I grew older and my attention switched to the real warriors of the ring, I watched my heroes on the television screen every weekend on ABC, CBS and NBC. I could hardly wait each month for my copies of The Ring, Boxing Illustrated and KO Magazine to come in so I could spend all day Saturday reading them cover to cover. I would look at the sports page in my local newspaper daily for updates on my favorite champions. (Yes, newspapers used to cover Boxing) It was a glorious life for a Boxing fan.

As I became an adult, I went to live fights, watched HBO bouts and started pay for the big fights on TVKO pay per view shows and alike. I was young and the best match-ups were still being made. In fact, most champions insisted that the fights be made, so what the heck did I care if a small fee was involved?

Once in my thirties, I decided that I wanted to get involved in the sport in some way and remembered that I got an “A” in creative writing back in high school and thought to myself, “Maybe I’ll try and write about my beloved sport”. So I decided to contact a Boxing website to see if I could give writing a shot. The site was Boxingscene.com and one the site’s editors at the time, Keith Terceira gave me my first opportunity to write about Boxing. Soon after, I was on the staff at Boxingscene.com and they were sending me to Vegas to cover fights. I was in press conferences, having beers at the bar with historic figures of the sport and it was an incredible feeling.

Not too long after that, Terceira sent one of my articles to a gentleman that did a daily Boxing radio show. The show was “Talking Boxing with Billy C.” and Bill Calogero was the host. Bill seemed to like my article and asked me if I wanted to come on the show as a guest. I thought Calogero was crazy at the time because I had no experience on air and I was only pretending to be a Boxing writer. (And still perfecting the art of pretending) The “Talkin Boxing with Billy C.” show is worldwide and Calogero had the idea to have correspondents in all parts of the United States and beyond to bring different perspectives to his show. I’m only guessing, but I think he might have liked the idea that I was in Southern California, which is a hot bed for Boxing action and he figured what the hell, if the dude is a moron, he is one and done.

I am in fact a moron, but Bill and I hit it off well and our banter back and forth seemed to entertain the listeners. Immediately following my first appearance, I became the West Coast Correspondent for the show.

What a blast it was! I started setting up interviews and had the opportunity to speak on the phone with the likes of Ray Mancini, Mike Weaver and Gerry Cooney, amongst many more. After some time passed, it became surreal. My family was excited for me because they all had to deal with my abnormal obsession with Boxing through the years and for them to be able to watch as I covered championship fights and listen to me on a National Radio show was exciting for all of us.

Then came June of 2011 when I was finally able to make my maiden voyage to Canastota, New York for The International Boxing Hall of Fame. I had heard for years about the experience from many boxing friends. One friend in particular was Erik Killin who lives in Northern California and runs his very own website for diehard Boxing fans. The site is called BoxingBB.com. For at least the three previous years I spoke about going to the Hall of Fame, but life and responsibility always seemed to get in my way. Erik would almost take it as a personal insult because he so badly wanted not only me to experience it, but he wanted all of his Boxing friends to experience the Hall.

Once I heard that Sylvester Stallone was being inducted, that was my springboard to finally get the ball rolling. To the dismay of many of my friends, I am a Rocky Balboa freak and one of the few that embraced his induction as a contributor to the sport of Boxing.

My beautiful wife, Deborah also has dealt with my unhealthy love of Boxing and Rocky for over twenty years and once she got wind of Stallone being inducted and that my friends were trying to get me there, she took matters into her own hands and basically made me go. She did all the flight arrangements and planning for me and would not let me back out this time. As usual I was doing something at the last minute and needed a place to stay.

Once again, my friends came to bat for me. Radio man, Bill Calogero, who was gathering the staff of the Billy C. radio show in Canastota for the HOF graciously had a room for me the first night as we planned our show activities.

From there, Erik Killin and his wife, Jessica not only let me stay with them the rest of the weekend, but Jessica worked as our designated driver every night. Oh, by the way, Jessica was pregnant at the time. This proves a couple things. Not only are boxing people the greatest in the world, but apparently their wives are pretty darn good as well.

The four days I spent in Canastota were beyond explanation. I mingled daily at the local hangout, Graziano’s Restaurant and Bar with current and former fighters, trainers and Boxing personalities. No entourages, no police escorts but only them, me and Coors Light. I met my hero Marvin Hagler, I spoke to Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor like we were long lost buddies. Brian Mitchell insisted on buying me a drink after a long conversation and I insisted on buying Leon Spinks about twenty. I exchanged bad jokes and stories with Bert Sugar and felt for one short weekend that I was part of the Boxing community. The trip was once in a lifetime experience and I strongly encourage all fight fans that haven’t made the pilgrimage to do so this year.

Not too long after the trip, I was starting to get a distant feeling about Boxing. The constant Pacquiao and Mayweather talk was growing tiresome and I just found myself not caring as much as I used to.

Maybe after seeing my heroes in Canastota, I was bound to have a letdown. Boxing seems to make it very difficult to follow the sport. I’m not a big fan of watching fights on my tiny computer screen and I find it harder and harder to justify paying for the Pay Per-View that are shoved down our throats on a consistent basis.

There is no newspaper coverage of anything except Pacquiao and even that is minor. There are weekly columns in my local paper that cover “This week’s action”, but guess what, it’s all MMA coverage.

I was at a family party not too long ago and there were about fifteen kids ranging in age from twelve to eighteen. I asked them all the same question, “Do you follow Boxing?” The vote was unanimous, not one of them followed Boxing or knew anyone in the sport outside of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. To add to my pain that night, they all explained how they followed MMA and could tell everything and everyone involved in that sport now.

I have been called an old geezer who just can’t get out of the past and you know what, I’m starting to agree. I would much rather watch my old VHS tapes of classics bouts instead of trying to find a Mexican station at 12:30 am on a Friday morning and watch two bantamweights that I’ve never heard of, or pay someone ten bucks to watch a horrific card from Philadelphia on my computer screen.

I’m a lifelong Boxing fan and I’m sure I’ll eventually get out of my rut and get back on the Boxing horse, but for now the sport has tired me out and I needed a break.

Boxing has already become a niche sport as it is and I’m very concerned where the next generation of fans will be coming from. There seems to be more old-goats like me that can’t let go of the past than there are kids following the sweet science.

I guess for now, it’s off to the VHS storage box in the mancave to find my old Camacho-Rosario fight so I can be in love with Boxing again.

To answer the initial question of “Has Boxing lost me?” Probably not, I think Boxing has just misplaced me for a while.

Until we meet again my friends, or least until Pacquiao and Mayweather meet for the first time.

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