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