JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

If two boxers fight in a ring, and nobody cares …

Just read on SI.com that Vitali Klitschko dominated Shannon Briggs to retain his WBC heavyweight title.

I was shocked by this news, in that:

A. I didn’t realize Vitali Klitschko is still heavyweight champ.

B. I couldn’t believe Briggs still commands title fights.

C. I always thought Briggs’ last name was ‘Biggs.’

In other words, wow. Not all that long ago, I was a huge boxing fan. Huge. Came up watching Marvelous and Sugar and Tommy and Duran; can vivdily recall the excitement preceeding Cooney-Holmes and Bramble-Mancini and, later on, the two Holyfield-Tyson fights. I covered a bunch of fights for SI in the early 2000s, and always dug the experience.

Now, however, the sport is dead. D. E. A. D. People have different theories—MMA taking over; city kids turning to football and basketball over boxing; the violence. My theory is simpler: At its core, boxing sucks. It’s occasionally violent and bloody, but 95 percent of fights are lame and dull. Two guys standing in the middle of a floor, throwing jabs, waiting … waiting … waiting … waiting. When hype exceeds reality—Ward-Gotti or some of the Holyfield-Bowe clashes—it’s wonderful. But hype rarely exceeds reality. And, in the end, we’re left with boring crap like Klitschko-Briggs.