The Sweet Science Meets The Dismal Science

Heavily Under-baked: A Tale of Heavyweight Overselling & Non-Delivery

Boxing is well known as the sweet science. Economics is often referred to as the dismal science. The two meet awkwardly & spectacularly boringly at that once marquee division of the sport – heavyweight. Supply & demand at play for all the world – or that portion still bothering to dare to get their hopes up in anticipation of the next coming of a landscape worthy of the storied lineage of Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano, Mohammed Ali, Joe Frazier & George Foreman – to see.

Butterbean Boxing

Will future generations long for the vintage days of a prime Butterbean?

I’d argue with some vigor that the demand or public appetite for a captivating, inspirational & high level competitive heavyweight landscape is not extinguished, rather in a now decades long state of hibernation. A hibernation that is periodically interrupted by match ups that habitually promise much but deliver scant reward for the aspirations invested in them by fans. The David Haye debacle was but the latest in a haphazard series of underwhelming farces perpetrated on a boxing community and fan base that is well within its rights to feel wronged & defrauded once more.

The supply-side of the heavyweight dismal science is where the action of inaction is ultimately decided. Perhaps the ninety years that preceded the seemingly extended death march the heavyweight division has embarked on from the moment the once “invincible” Mike Tyson got knocked out by Buster Douglas in Tokyo in 1990 was the true fluke. It is possible that lightening struck with regularity as the aforementioned roll call of Hall of Fame champions broke through the veneer of not only sporting greatness but that lifeblood of a sport’s forward momentum & effortless exportation to the next generation – the wider societal collective consciousness; the public imagination. It is also possible that I could experience spontaneous human combustion inside the next 12 seconds. Possible – but implausible. The bar was set high for post-Golden era heavyweight champions – as athletes & as ambassadors for the sport – but rightly so. Theirs is an inheritance of not merely a title but a responsibility to spearhead the growth; prosperity & public engagement with the sport that meaningfully punctuates the millions of divergent biographies of all hardcore fans.

Haye Foot Injury Excuse

David Haye: The Hypemaker. Defrauder of the boxing public to the tune of $15 million.

That, collectively, the former premier division of the sport has failed that solemn duty is beyond question. What it will take to resuscitate her now vegetative state in the eye’s of the wider public is a rather murkier question. The sanctioning bodies; vested interests (shall we settle on that as a label); mismatch makers all share a portion of the blame in the downward trajectory of the weight classes’ fortunes.

As every girlfriend who ever broke my fragile little heart has half-heartily uttered – “time heals all”. And sadly, that is the only anecdote for this chronic affliction the sport is burdened by – patience. The wait for the next Tyson-esque human wrecking ball north of 200lbs or Ali-Frazier level rivalry will doubtless be a  lengthy & painful one; though one struggles to imagine anything matching the Jekyll & Hyde overselling of a challenger we’ve just been forced to witness.