Here comes another Reality television show, like we really need it. Just recently I saw where Sugar Ray Leonard and Sylvester Stallone have decided to produce a new Reality show called “The Contender.” I have no idea what the show is going to consist of or what type of gimmick it will be? I just hope they don't sell out and do something that results in Boxing being subjected to more negative press. It's not like either one of them needs the money.
However, it made me think back to a time in the mid to late 80's when Mike Tyson was scoring many first and second round knockout's. I specifically remember watching Tyson fight Trevor Berbick, Michael Spinks, and Carl “The Truth” Williams on HBO with about 6 or 7 friends. In those fights Tyson stopped Berbick in two rounds and Spinks and Williams in the first.
A group of my friends who I usually watched the fights with at that time had varying backgrounds in Sports and Athletics. A couple played College Football, another was an accomplished body builder, and one was a High School state champ and Division Two National champ Wrestler. The one who was the Wrestler has just started competing in MMA Tournaments and is 2-0. Four of those six guys were tough and could all handle themselves, whether it be in the Sporting sense or on the street. As soon as those fights were over, they started with the typical crap I've heard too often. Crap like, “give me two months to train, and I'll go more than one or two rounds.”
I usually answered, “you couldn't go one round with me if you had two years to train everyday, let alone lasting that long with Tyson or Holyfield without dying in the Ring.” Being that I fought for eight years as an amateur and pro middleweight, I've experienced this mind set only too often. The point is that it never amazes me how guys from all other Sports think they can be fighters and are good enough to take one on. They only say those things because they just don't know. No doubt the comments aren't made to be disrespectful, at least I hope not. It's just like most all things that are commented on from the easy chair or the bar stool, they are stated without any real thought or true understanding. Over the years I taught some of my friends just how delusional they were. Never the less, those idiotic comments still come up sometimes when they see a fight end in a round or two.
Why is it so that Boxers get picked on as being an easy target? I never hear anyone say they can stand behind center on an NFL team and complete passes like Dan Marino or John Elway. Or that they can stand in the batter's box and make contact against Pedro Martinez. Never hear anyone say they can bring the ball up court and play point guard in the NBA, or handle the puck from end to end like Bobby Orr did in the NHL. No, it's always I could go more than a round with Tyson, or Holyfield couldn't knock me out. The only reason I can come up with as to why some make these stupid remarks is that all guys have had fights somewhere in their life, and have thrown a couple good punches, or have taken somebody down. I guess fighting is the ultimate macho Sporting confrontation between two men?
Not only do Boxers get exploited and ripped off, they get Joe average who took a couple Karate lessons or pumped some iron thinking that he could beat them up. Again, they just don't know. In case anyone doesn't realize this, an experienced pro fighter could really hurt a guy who has never fought and has no experience or training in his background. Imagine a 25 year old man punching a 10 year old kid in the face as hard as he could, think of the damage he would do. Well that's like Evander Holyfield hitting a regular guy in the face as hard as he could, and that may even be an understatement. Another thing the Beer-Muscle guy in the bar doesn't realize is that he can't hit. He has absolutely no punch at all unless he's been taught how to and trained for YEARS.
Those who have never been in the ring just don't have any concept of how hard a fighter can hit despite his record. They also can't possibly know how tough fighters are and how good they take a punch. Recently Joe Mesi fought and was hurt and dropped three times during the fight, and it's now becoming apparent that his chin may be a problem. Count me among them. And yes, Mesi's chin will probably be his Achilles and keep him from ever winning the title. However, there ain't no regular guy walking the street who can hurt Mesi with a punch. I don't care if he's an NFL Linebacker, an NBA power forward, a Wrestler, or a Mixed Martial Artist, he ain't hurting Mesi with a punch. Mesi's chin may be a liability at the world class level as a professional Heavyweight fighter, but not on the street or in the Ring versus a guy who has no Boxing or Striking training.
Fighters are a rare breed of men. I hear a lot of guys say that Boxing isn't street fighting, and to a large extent they're right. But what most fail to mention is that most fighters were good street fighters before they Boxed? A lot of them got into Boxing to channel their aggression and get paid for it at the same time.
Quick Story. One day when I was an amateur I was getting ready to spar a heavyweight who was in the Gym at that time. I was a Middleweight. He was a seasoned pro who had a winning record and a few years later fought for the title. He was not a big puncher and didn't boast a big knockout record. At that time I was close to getting ready to turn pro. I had recently gone to camp with Michael Spinks to help him get ready for his title unification fight with Dwight Muhammad Qawi. Before that I went away with Qawi to help him get ready for his fight versus James Scott at Rahway Prison. Both Qawi and Spinks could really punch, and Qawi sparred like he fought, all out. I figured this heavyweight who I was about to spar couldn't really hurt me. After all, he wasn't known as a puncher. Any how when we sparred we were both wearing 16 ounce training gloves, and he caught me with one straight right hand that knocked me across the ring. The punch was like getting hit by a bunch of falling cinder-blocks, and it wasn't all that he had. I thought to myself, this guy is not supposed to be able to hit.
No, he couldn't punch when measured against other seasoned World Class Heavyweights. However, he can really crack when paired with an experienced middleweight who had a rep for having a good chin. And he would be considered Earnie Shavers if he fought some big weight lifter or football player, whose only training was curling and tackling.
When Tyson blew Michael Spinks out in the first round, many arm chair fighters were yapping how they could've done better and lasted longer than Spinks did. Unfortunately some of them have no clue that they wouldn't have done squat but soil themselves just getting in the ring, and not just with Tyson. They have no concept or understanding how many bad dudes Spinks had to go through just to be qualified to fight Tyson. The next time you see a contending fighter get taken apart in a big fight in a round or two, remember 99% of those watching would've been half killed by the guys he beat to get there. And just imagine how good the fighter who just won must be.
Even guys who are World Class athlete's but never fought have no shot at doing anything with a World Class fighter. Remember when Too Tall Jones wanted to challenge Larry Holmes? There's a reason why that didn't happen. The reason is Too Tall went to a Gym and got his clock cleaned by an amateur heavyweight who hadn't even had his first amateur fight. Too Tall was an all-pro Lineman in the NFL, however he knew fighting Holmes would've been certain suicide, as he later find out! After six fights in which he made Butterbean look like a World beater, Too Tall when back to the NFL. Incidentally, Too Tall played his best ball after his brief boxing excursion. Would anyone ever, even on a goof suggest that Larry Holmes could play on the offensive line and block Too Tall or Reggie White successfully? No, but everybody thinks they can fight.
If you never fought, don't get in the Ring with a Boxer for real because you'll get more than your feelings hurt. You'll get your brain shook. Every time he touches you, you'll feel concussed. If you never Grappled, don't get caught in the guards position with a good ground fighter, because you'll get a limb broke or your air cut off. And if you are a Boxer or a Grappler, don't be delusional and think you can block a big time Lineman, because you'll get run over. Assuming you are as inexperienced at blocking as they are fighting.