My, How Things Have Changed!

ali_frazier

Remember:

When an amateur fighter had to win more than just two fights to become a Golden Gloves champ?

When the Olympic trials were a big deal, and you knew who the favorites were in each weight division because we saw them fight internationally on one of the big three networks?

When Olympic boxing was one of the marquee sports at the summer Olympics and aired during prime-time?

When the best amateur fighters were from America and Cuba?

When you could follow the progression of the Olympic medal winners because many of them made their pro debut on one of the big three networks?

When the weigh-in for professional bouts was on the morning of the fight – instead of a day and a half or two days before the fight so bouts couldn't be won on the scale?

When the commission used to pick the judges for the big fights instead of the promoters and networks or superstar fighters?

When the referee for the big fights usually wasn't announced until a day or two before the bout – to insure he couldn't be worked or manipulated before the fight?

When a fighter didn't have to be undefeated to headline a main event on television?

When championship bouts used to be on one of the big three networks no less than once a month?

When a fighter wasn't considered a bum or not worth watching because he wasn't undefeated?

When title fights used to be 15 rounds – so the contenders and pretenders could be separated?

When heavyweights used to fight with eight ounce gloves instead of the 10 ounce gloves used today?

When fighters were afraid to inject themselves with steroids because they feared an unwanted weight gain?

When sparring, not hitting focus mitts or a bag, was how fighters actually learned to fight and box?

When the best fought the best and champions fought champions?

When catch-weight bouts were the exception and not expected?

When fighters fought for their legacy as much as money?

When being the heavyweight champion was the most prestigious title in sports?

When broadcasters and announcers didn't have a rooting interest?

When soap operas like HBO's 24/7 and Showtime's “All Access” weren't needed to hype a legitimate fight?

When big fights weren't held up because the two fighters fought on different television networks?

When fighters were actually interviewed in the ring after fights and the interviewer wasn't conducting himself like a promoter?

When the press around the ring wore a suit and tie?

When MSG's Johnny Addie introduced the fighters as if they were UN ambassadors?

When legendary ring broadcaster Don Dunphy actually shut up and allowed you to watch the fight without talking for the entire round?

When housewives and kids could tell you who the heavyweight champion was?

When heavyweight title fights were front page news in every newspaper?

When body punching used to count?

When referees used to let fighters work on the inside?

When there was only one world champion in each division?

When “The Ring” magazine was the Bible of boxing?

When fighters were often on the cover of Sports Illustrated?

When Muhammad Ali was the only fighter accompanied to the ring with an entourage?

When the top contenders and champions were brought up to the ring and introduced before a major or championship bout?

When a fighter over 30 years old was considered old and on the decline?

When Madison Square Garden was the boxing Mecca of the world?

When judges were allowed to score even rounds because neither fighter did anything to actually win it?

When boxing was a top-tier sport along with Baseball, horse racing and College football?

Where you were the night – Sugar Ray Robinson stopped Jake LaMotta, Rocky Marciano knocked out Jersey Joe Walcott with one punch, Cassius Clay upset Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier beat Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Ali stopped George Foreman, Roberto Duran beat Sugar Ray Leonard, Larry Holmes beat Gerry Cooney, Sugar Ray Leonard beat Marvin Hagler, Mike Tyson knocked out Michael Spinks in 91 seconds and Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson as a 42-1 underdog?

Like most every other major sport, boxing has really changed over the last 20 or so years. And like the other sports not necessarily for its betterment. However, it's not going anywhere and to those of us who still love it, maybe its decline will lead to change and some of the things that used to make it great may one day return?

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Comment on this article

COMMENTS

-Radam G :

Dang! Pug Scribe F-Lo. Those were so hard when's. Scenes of those times where flashing and dashing and smashing through my mind. OMFG! How things have really gone away forever. Much more than we think about until we are reminded This is like a thousand deaths of the way it was in our sport. But we have no time to mourn. Because outta every passing, more is born. I have to holla at this song for the people and things of our sport that have passed into the afterlife.
->http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uamir2DfDcM. Holla!


-New York Tony :

These "Whens" really hit home, which is why I was surprised by "not necessarily for its betterment." There's been no betterment, only degradation. Once upon a time, boxing was the king of sports, Jack Dempsey a bigger hero than Babe Ruth. Is there any sport today lower on the totem pole? Horse racing, I guess. Darts? Girls' softball? I'm not so sure. And let's not kid ourselves - there isn't the slightest reason to expect a return to the good old days.


-Radam G :

These "Whens" really hit home, which is why I was surprised by "not necessarily for its betterment." There's been no betterment, only degradation. Once upon a time, boxing was the king of sports, Jack Dempsey a bigger hero than Babe Ruth. Is there any sport today lower on the totem pole? Horse racing, I guess. Darts? Girls' softball? I'm not so sure. And let's not kid ourselves - there isn't the slightest reason to expect a return to the good old days.
Dang! NY Tony, just bury da game and throw away the shovel. The game is already on it way back to regular TV. So we got darts beat. And we are neck and neck with Girls softball. Hehehehe! Holla!


-deepwater2 :

Good article. Boxing is still a great sport even though the networks and promoters/advisors get in the way. Boxing brings all elements of society together, around ringside you can have A list celebrities sitting next to the police chief sitting next to a mob boss sitting next to other athletes sitting next to top business men sitting next to an ordinary accountant. USA boxing really needs to focus on the Olympic program. I'm always in favor of bringing boxing clubs back to the high school and college level. Even if 14 oz gloves were mandatory. I would bet boxing is safer for the kids then football or soccer. Did the mob make more evenly matched bouts then tsAH?


-gibola :

...when fighters clearly, blatantly slip onto the floor even if a nothing punch lands on a shoulder and neither the ref nor the commentary team demand it be called a knockdown and replay it 15 times during the break between rounds, when nobody referred to punchstats cos they are utterly meaningless and it made sense to use what little time you had to talk about the fight instead, when there was a unified champ, when there were so few alphabet titles that you had hope of seeing a unified champ ever again, when fans didn't casually accept big fights not happening because that's the 'business' of boxing, when we heard less about the business of boxing and big fights just seemed to get made, when reg gutteridge and harry carpenter commented on fights on free tv in the UK, when Gil Clancy and Angelo Dundee gave insight on US network boxing, when there was loads of boxing on free tv in the UK & USA, when there were contenders like Marlon Starling who lost in a title fight and earned another by beating prospect after prospect, when there were contenders and not everyone in the top 10 had a meaningless title, when it was accepted you had to beat a contender, to become a contender and only contenders got a title shot, when heavyweight fights were entertaining, when fighters demanded that fights were made and managers/promoters did what the fighter wanted rather than the other way round, when the world was young and none of us had ever heard Jim Lampley say 'that flurry in the last ten seconds may have won the round for Pacquaio'.........no it didn't Jim. I could go on but I won't.


-The Commish :

Great topic and great lists posted here. Frank Lotierzo is truly one of the best journalistscovering, reporting and writing about the sweet science. -Randy G.


-Kid Blast :

Hmmm. This is unique enough to steal.


-Radam G :

...when fighters clearly, blatantly slip onto the floor even if a nothing punch lands on a shoulder and neither the ref nor the commentary team demand it be called a knockdown and replay it 15 times during the break between rounds, when nobody referred to punchstats cos they are utterly meaningless and it made sense to use what little time you had to talk about the fight instead, when there was a unified champ, when there were so few alphabet titles that you had hope of seeing a unified champ ever again, when fans didn't casually accept big fights not happening because that's the 'business' of boxing, when we heard less about the business of boxing and big fights just seemed to get made, when reg gutteridge and harry carpenter commented on fights on free tv in the UK, when Gil Clancy and Angelo Dundee gave insight on US network boxing, when there was loads of boxing on free tv in the UK & USA, when there were contenders like Marlon Starling who lost in a title fight and earned another by beating prospect after prospect, when there were contenders and not everyone in the top 10 had a meaningless title, when it was accepted you had to beat a contender, to become a contender and only contenders got a title shot, when heavyweight fights were entertaining, when fighters demanded that fights were made and managers/promoters did what the fighter wanted rather than the other way round, when the world was young and none of us had ever heard Jim Lampley say 'that flurry in the last ten seconds may have won the round for Pacquaio'.........no it didn't Jim. I could go on but I won't.
WTF! Are we rolling up into the when, when, when, when, when and when, when, when era? I remember when those nuns beat my little narrow, flat arse. Hehe! Holla!