Immediately before his bout last Saturday, Oscar De La Hoya equated the sport of boxing to the gladiatorial bouts that defined ancient Rome – he cited the Collosseum and the feverish roar of the crowd, and the intense pride of the combatants inside. That being the case, it appears that contemporary boxing has taken a rather pronounced fall from grace compared to the gladiators of lore.

Now, I won’t profess to possess any particular boxing expertise, but I do consider myself a connoisseur of sorts, catching as many Pay-Per-View matches as I can dupe my associates into paying for. That said, this PressBoxer has noticed a remarkable difference between the heavyweight and middleweight bouts viewed as of late – namely, passion. Excitement. And, deficient from both weight classes, round-card girls.

The De La Hoya-Mosley fight last weekend went all twelve rounds, and remained a frenetic, intense fight throughout. Sadly, the match ended with a decision that George Foreman, the resident champion commentator – as well as dorm-room grill salesman and progeny-naming consultant – deemed a conspiracy, thereby tainting an otherwise engaging fight.

Better yet were the legendary matches between Mickey Ward and Arturo Gatti, a pair of Rocky-esque boxers who fought with heart first and fists second. Deemed instant classics, Ward and Gatti provided a trilogy of duels, with Gatti ultimately claiming the third match in a decision after fighting seven rounds with a broken hand. I’m on the disabled list for a week if I jam my toe getting out of the shower, and this man continued to ram his broken hand into someone’s face for seven rounds. Damn.

The heavyweight fights pale by comparison. Whereas Ward and Gatti combined for 1,400 punches in their second fight, Tyson threw roughly one punch before concussing Clifford Etienne in 33 seconds last February. Soon thereafter, when reigning champion Lennox Lewis met Vitali Klitschko in an awkward, clumsy bout this June, Klitschko, despite controlling the fight, was forced into a loss when a particularly bloody canyon developed over his eye. The fight was called and Lewis, running scared, has indefinitely postponed a rematch while he debates retirement.

How, then, can we expect to instill a sense of excitement, honor, and heart into professional boxing?

Simply – scrap the idea of weight classes altogether. Consider all boxers as pound-for-pound and, just as Roy Jones Jr. is entertaining the idea of fighting both Tyson and Lewis, match up those boxers who are deemed the best overall fighters.

Now, critics might cite the danger and inherent disadvantages in having a man fight someone twice his size, but, as Nathan Lane mused in the recent film offering of “Nicolas Nickleby,” “How can you expect to draw the sympathies of the crowd if you don’t have a small man contending against a larger one?”

Similarly, seeing as how De La Hoya threw almost twice the amount of jabs per round than the average heavyweight – 19 – we can rest assured that the quicker, smaller guys will be able to evade and exhaust their looming opponents.

Of course, if you’re still a skeptic, I can provide irrefutable evidence for not only the plausibility of my plan, but actually for the inevitable success of it. If you’ll don a set of zebra slap bracelets and Reebok pumps and venture back to 1986, I’d like to pull from the archives the Nintendo classic “Mike Tyson’s Punch Out.” In it, we are presented with Little Mac, a resilient ‘lil guy who, in addition to boasting a tasteful black wifebeater, provides all the evidence I’ll ever need to sufficiently convince the pundits of the staggering genius inherent in my plan for international boxing.

You see, Little Mac is one small bastard. In fact, as you can see from the included artists’ rendering, Tyson might as well be taking on an anorexic midget – and Tyson isn’t even the tallest of Mac’s opponents! That considered, I’ll hear none of the arguments from the misinformed dissenters that proclaim a De La Hoya-Lewis fight a mismatch.

Lewis may have six inches and 100 pounds on De La Hoya, but Little Mac actually had to jump to punch his opponents in the face. Thus, you’ll get no sympathy from me. In fact, I expect no less of any passionate middleweight facing off against real-life Tyson. Seeing such a passionate, uneven bout will surely rekindle the waning interest in boxing for fans worldwide.

That, or Shakira as the round-card girl. I’ll take either.

Janowitz can be reached at njanowitz@campustimes.org.



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