By Jonathan Danielson
Juan Manuel Marquez did more than just knock out Manny Pacquiao Saturday night. He also delivered the final, lethal blow to the sport of boxing.
A few months ago, after Pacquiao was robbed in a decision which gave Timothy Bradley the WBO title, and people were proclaiming boxing as officially over, I argued that the sport wasn’t actually dead, not yet at least, because a Pacquiao/Mayweather Jr. fight had yet to happen. Then, and only then, I argued, would boxing be allowed to ride off into the sunset while MMA took its rightful place as the premier fighting sport of the masses.
But then this weekend Marquez delivered a counter punch to end all the build up and hype of that potential matchup. In a single blow, he put the most famous (current) boxer on the planet face down on the mat, and in those moments when Pacquiao wife, in a scene stolen from Rocky, was screaming her husband’s name as she tried to push her way through the crowd, and we all sat in silence in our homes while officials put two fingers to Pacquiao neck to check for a pulse, and we wondered if Marquez’s counter actually killed a man right in front of our Paid-Per-Viewed eyes, the sport changed forever.
To great relief, Pacquiao turned out to be fine. The sport of boxing on the other hand, was not so lucky.
Besides Pacquiao, Marquez, and Mayweather Jr. (and technically Bradley, but that’s only because he was mentioned earlier in this article. He shouldn’t count as a nameable boxer, because people are more likely to refer to him as “The Guy Who Robbed Manny,” than knowing his actual name), name another boxer?
Now name some UFC fighters?
Boxing changed forever last weekend. After what happened, Mayweather might very well stop being a coward, and come to terms with Pacquiao. There might finally well be a Mayweather/Pacquiao fight, just as their might very well be a Pacquiao/Bradley 2, or Marquez/Mayweather or whatever. There might even be a Pacquiao/Marquez 5 (but if I’m Marquez, why would I ever agree to that?).
At that point though, does it even really matter?
Mayweather is a convict, Marquez’s victory is in question after alleged PED use (you’re 39 years old, and you naturally got more muscular and stronger?), and Pacquiao was TKO’ed. The unbeatable was beaten Saturday, and the last of the great names went down. There is no more unicorn to chase in the sport. There is no more mythical fights still to be fought. There are three names left (four, if you include Bradley, which you shouldn’t), and how long can we continually watch them beat on each other, and only each other, over and over again?
The last of the great boxers were beaten Saturday, and why should anyone care anymore about three fighters who quickly are approaching their 40’s, as they try to punch each other (and considering how the preliminaries went Saturday, even that rarely happened), when we can watch an every changing lineup of legitimate contenders choke each other out, or roundhouse kick each other in the face, over on FOX?
The world’s attention is on MMA now, not boxing, and the pool of talent for boxing is quickly shrinking. Marquez knocked out Pacquiao on Saturday, but the UFC has had a stranglehold on boxing for a while. After the poster boy went down in Vegas, the sport also went down for the count.