My NY FIGHTS assignment: to write something making sense of the absurd state of boxing within the combat sports universe at this moment in time.
On Saturday night (or Sunday morning for you poor bastards in New York), the best pound for pound boxer in the world cooled his heels in Las Vegas while a college baseball playoff game went into extra innings. The undercard got moved over to the secondary network to get started.
Fifteen hundred miles south, a retired MMA champion and veteran professional boxer with his famous father’s name fought eight rounds in a pay per view event. Anderson Silva, age 46, handed Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., age 35, a stunning majority decision loss by scores of 77-75 X 23 and 75-77.
As Silva celebrated with his team and snapped selfies in the ring with journalist Claudia Trejo (a good sport too), Chavez Jr. made his excuses. But really, when he blew through the renegotiated weight limit of 182 pounds (again), what did he expect?
Back in Las Vegas, Naoya Inoue of Japan finally made his ring walk. After the delays, breaks, and feature stories, Inoue and his opponent Michael Dasmarinas of the Philippines got to work. As we like to say in boxing, they don’t get paid by the hour.
After a feeling out first round, Inoue went to work, delivering pounding body shots and dropping Dasmarinas with a minute left in the second round. Dasmarinas survived to the third round, only to suffer two more body shot driven knockdowns, the third one ending the fight just eight minutes and 45 seconds after it started.
“Of course getting the win gives me a smile,” said Inoue. “But to be able to fight the winner of Casimero and (Nonito) Donaire (in a unification bout), that gives me another smile.”
Inoue and Silva do have something in common. They both landed double the number of punches as their opponents. This is where the similarity ends.
Silva made more for his novelty pay per view fight in Mexico than he earned in his entire UFC career. Chavez Jr. has earned millions in fights against the likes of Canelo Alvarez armed with little other than his name.
Inoue’s guaranteed purse was a mere $500,000 on Saturday, though certainly he earned more through sponsorships and back end percentages.
The boxing purist in me feels appalled by this. Inoue is an impressive, once in a generation talent. He delivers exciting performances and his power, accuracy, and speed are dazzling. His best knockouts are breathtaking.
Nevertheless, I turned my attention Saturday night to boxing’s equivalent of the Maury Povich Show. Because really, haven’t we all asked whether Chavez Jr. is really Chavez Sr.’s blood related son?
Silva successfully neutralized what little offense the slow, overweight Chavez Jr. could muster, controlling the fight and keeping up a respectable pace. As his confidence increased, he taunted Junior in the ring. Even with a trio of Mexican judges, Silva achieved a lifelong goal to win a serious sanctioned bout.
Guadalajara native son and hero Canelo came into the ring to congratulate Silva on his victory, while Chavez Jr. exited after making his excuses. And I admit it, I loved it.
“Canelo signed my glove!” said the elated Silva in a post-fight news conference. “I try to do my best with everything in my life. When I accepted this fight, I trained very hard. This is not easy.”
Did I enjoy this boxing porn MORE than the brilliance of Naoya Inoue? No, not more. I get something very different from both. Here’s where I part ways with the boxing purists who despise the recent rash of hybrid celebrity type fights across disciplines involving legends, retirees, and YouTubers.
I like some variety in my sports diet. Most of the time, my consumption is a healthy mix of quality ingredients. Lots of clean protein, fiber, you get the idea. But sometimes, chowing down on the combat sports equivalent of a bag of Doritos is just the ticket. I’ll go back to my healthy ways with a little extra workout time tacked on for my trouble. No harm done, no one gets hurt.
Boxing fans, everything in moderation. The occasional trashtastic matchup in no way signals the demise of Serious Boxing. Without Serious Boxing as the foundation to begin with, there aren’t any Paul Brothers. And there isn’t the cathartic ass-kicking of the privileged, spoiled son of a boxing legend by a 46-year-old man living the dream.
Now go watch the highlights of Saturday’s Inoue win to set your boxing diet back on the right track.