The Death of the Super-fight.
Once upon a time in boxing, the biggest fights were usually the best fights. Therefore, creating the term super-fight which usually consisted of a bout between two highly touted boxers that were sitting at the top of the sport. Super-fights were usually regulated to pay per view since they would garner the attention from casual fans of the sport along with the hardcore following. These big anticipated match ups were good for the sport because it allowed boxing to have its moment in the sun no matter what other sport seasons are active during the time. Everybody enjoys a good super-fight every now and then, especially when the fight lives up to the hype. Unfortunately, true super -fights are few and far on the horizon due to the ever-changing nature of boxing and its participants. Super-fights stopped feeling super a long time ago.
The real super-fight takes place long before the boxers enter the ring. It’s usually fought out through social media posts and interviews where both sides try to agree to terms to make said fight happen. With the rate boxing operates nowadays, this can take anywhere from six months to six years and this is if the fight happens. During this tumultuous time, good boxing cards are often overlooked because the focus is on the alleged super-fight that everyone wants to see. Boxing has a way of ignoring the present for a potential that might not come. This is just another boxing casualty brought on by the wait for the super-fight.
Boxing fans have been conditioned to accept and be happy with the better late than never mantra when it comes to super-fights. Fans eagerly waited for Mayweather versus Pacquiao only to finally have the fight take place when both were past their physical best. What’s worse is that a fight of that magnitude didn’t receive a nationwide press tour or any major press conference that was open to the public. Super-fights are supposed to be engaging. Everything was done away from the fans, even though the fan interest is what kept the fight alive for so long. The final kicker is both future hall of famers gave pedestrian performances that weren’t inspiring or memorable at all. The mother of all super-fights was a dud and didn’t elevate the sport one bit. I might be a little spoiled or old fashioned, but I expect super performances in super fights. Don’t talk trash for years and then mail it in during the fight. People don’t pay super-fight prices for pay per view to watch some regular ass fight.
Effort alone does not make a super-fight. The officiating and judging play a role as well, sometimes too big of a role. There’s been too many instances where the energy from the super fight is erased immediately due to bad judging. Canelo Alvarez versus Gennady Golovkin 1 is a recent example. For a super-fight it was decent in terms of ring action, but the bad scoring kept from elevating the event. The conclusive result that everyone wanted would have to wait another year and by that time the energy and fight narrative changed. The rematch was a much better fight, but the scoring was the same travesty we experienced before. Once again, boxing ignored the present to flirt with the potential future. Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury is another super-fight that was decent but left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth because of the bad judging. What’s the point of a super-fight if the bigger star gets the benefit of the doubt or clout whenever the going gets a little rough for them?
Boxing is supposed to be the theater of the unexpected. At this point, it’s becoming too easy to predict a draw or controversial decision loss for the B- side of the promotion. There’s nothing super about that at all. I wasn’t surprised when Canelo’s recent big unification fight with Daniel Jacobs failed to gain any buzz leading up to it. It’s hard to anticipate something that you already know will happen. Canelo by decision, no matter how competitive the fight is, will always be the safest bet in boxing. With that said, Canelo fought like that as well, and the little effort he showed in the earlier rounds decreased even more later in the fight when Jacobs finally decided to attack. This was supposed to be a super-fight, but fans were only treated to roughly 4 rounds of solid action. Wilder finds himself in a similar situation as Canelo due to the lack luster buzz of his upcoming fight with Dominic Breazeale. Fans know that if Wilder doesn’t ko his opponent, he’ll probably still get the win because of his potential fight with Anthony Joshua or a Tyson Fury rematch is out there waiting. The solid title defense he has with Breazeale is getting overlooked for a potential Joshua or Fury bout that may not come.
Super-fights used to be the pinnacle of the sport, but now they have become a hinderance due to never ending negotiations, boxers giving pedestrian efforts in the ring, and bad judging. If these 3 things don’t get corrected, we might as well move away from calling certain bouts super fights. Super-fights are like unicorns and dinosaurs now. It’d be cool to see one, but you’ll be fine if you don’t. Plenty of other interesting animals out there in the world that we can appreciate.
Written by Shutterworth for RingGangRadio