The Best vs. The Best
Sometimes in boxing, we get the a clash of titans. A collision of superstars, an explosion of talent that emerges only when the best fight the best. We’re treated with Fights like Wilder vs. Fury III, Mayweather vs. Maidana I, and Crawford vs. Spence.
But most of the time, there’s more complaints about the fights we never got to see. We never saw James Toney vs. Mike Tyson. Even though it seemed close once, we never got Anthony Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder.
And then there are all the other fights that we never could’ve seen; fights that exist only in the realm of pure fantasy. Fights like Roberto Duran vs. The Great Sam Langford. Or Pernell Whitaker vs. Terence Crawford. Or Floyd Mayweather vs. Sugar Ray Leonard.
Weight Management In Boxing
There are weight classes in the sport of boxing for a reason. While there are still probably some casuals who enjoy watching mismatches and sacrifices, not many genuine fight fans will care to see a bigger guy beat up on a smaller guy all night. It seems too predictable. It’s needlessly brutal. There’s no point in placing bets.
In Arturo Gatti vs. Joey Gamache, Gatti was said to have enjoyed a 15 pound weight advantage over Gamache. The difference between a welterweight and a middleweight isn’t even 15 lbs.; that means Gatti and Gamache could’ve been three weight classes apart, albeit in a hypothetical reality in which the sport of boxing had some kind of real integrity.
But if there’s some perceived mismatch in skill between the smaller man and his opponent, the size difference only serves to raise the stakes.
Being Too Small
In Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs Canelo Alvarez, Mayweather weighed significantly less than Canelo. Despite the size disadvantage, Mayweather completely dominated Canelo with superior skills and almost superhuman speed. One of the more fascinating things about the Mayweather vs. Canelo fight was the age difference; not only was Mayweather much smaller than Canelo, he was also significantly older. Whereas many fighters slow down to a level that makes them uncompetitive in their 30’s, Mayweather started out so fast that he was still too quick for Canelo; even when Alvarez was in his physical prime.
Being Too Big
Although the fighters are required to qualify for the fight via an official weigh-in, there’s often a much more lenient limit on the weight at which they’re allowed to actually enter the ring.
When a fighter has to lose weight for the scale, the most efficient way to do it is to dehydrate themselves. They can do this by training to shed water, sweating while purposefully denying themselves any water for replenishment. This is a reliable, if not extremely uncomfortable method that can be dangerous in the long term if it’s not done carefully.
The strain on the body can cause serious damage that could manifest itself in more ways than just stamina on fight night. When you’re dehydrated and exhausted, it’s easy to get sick when you’re over-exerting yourself and simultaneously restricting your calories and fluid intake. And that’s just in the lead up to the fight.
During the bout itself, you’ll be more tired. You won’t recover as quickly. You’ll take more damage from each punch you absorb. You’ll be more susceptible to brain damage. All of these things add to an already dangerous sport.
Now, people have apparently recently discovered that boxing, professional, amateur, or otherwise, is very dangerous. Predictably, there are less and less people willing to pursue an old schoool journeyman boxing career. While there are still elite level athletes competing at the sport all over the world and vying for dominance in their own respective rights, the amount of elite athletes who choose to another sport grows each year.
E-Sports boxing allows virtual boxing events with competitors who don’t take any real physical damage using simulated combat between two rendered boxers in a virtual ring venue. But aside from the danger, it removes the restrictions of travel to a mutual geographical location in a society in which travel is becoming more and more restricted.
In a medium that competitors and spectators could trust to be reasonably free from corruption, who’s to say there won’t be wagers?
This isn’t to say that it’s been done yet, but if there ever were a company that could overcome the uncanny valley and release an interactive experience that captures the subtleties and intensity of the sport of boxing, certain interesting simulation possibilities might come about. Maybe, at some point in the future, we’ll be able to digitally match up some of the greatest boxers of ALL time – against each other.
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