Friday, May 04, 2007

Thoroughbred horse racing and boxing are more alike than you may think

There are 2 sporting events this weekend that the MSM will be making a huge to-do about, the Kentucky Derby and the Oscar De La Hoya - Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight. Honestly, I couldn't give 2 shits about either of them.

I've actually been to the Derby. As an "Event," it was quite an experience, as I've never seen so many drunks per capita in my life. People were passed out everywhere, the concourses, bathrooms, all over the infield. And that was a couple of hours before the actual race.

There's an impressive level of bacchanalia in Louisville during Derby weekend. Wandering all over Churchill Downs, including the hedonistic infield, while drinking many mint juleps and people watching was highly entertaining. But as a sporting event? The Kentucky Derby left much to be desired.

When the race started, I was standing at the 1st turn. Watching 20+ premium, world-class thoroughbreds storm towards you and literally rumble past was something I'll never forget. But that was pretty much it. If I had been watching in the grandstands, my thoughts might have been a little different, but I doubt it would haver changed my opinion much, if any.

When it comes right down to brass tacks, the Kentucky Derby is about the partying and the betting. In other words, it's just a party that happens to involve a horse race. The biggest horse race, to be sure, but just a horse race. In the big scheme of things, the Derby is a blip on most sports fans radar, despite what the MSM would have you believe.

The media treats the Derby as if it's as relevant as it was 30-40 years ago. The TV networks are the worst offenders. NBC (The main rights holder) and the worldwide leader in sports treat the Derby as if it's the Super Bowl, when in all actuality, it's the equivalent of the Motor City Bowl. Why NBC feels the need to set aside a 2 hour block, for less than 2 minutes of action, makes little sense to me. Then again, most pregame shows are overlong, and don't bring much to the table other than allowing the network to sell advertising.

Thoroughbred horse racing is a dying (If not already dead) "Sport," and I'm using the term "Sport" loosely. No one pays any attention to horse racing, except for the Triple crown races, and even that low level of interest is quickly eroding.

What's even more interesting is that NBC, whom is broadcasting the Red Wings - Sharks game beforehand, will leave the hockey game at the end of regulation. At 4:30, overtime be damned, the network is switching to the Derby prerace activities.

What does it say about the relevancy of the NHL when the network that carries it will pull a "Heidi," and go to the prerace talking heads 1 1/2 hours before the start of the Derby? It says that the NHL has even less relevance to a nationwide audience than horses running in a circle. A scary thought, indeed.

Much as I called thoroughbred horse racing a dying sport, you can say the same about boxing.

I'm not going into the argument about which is better, mixed martial arts or boxing, as I don't know a damn thing about MMA. But I am aware that MMA is growing by leaps and bounds, and boxing is...Well, it's not much of anything anymore. And that's a damn shame...

It wasn't all that long ago that boxing, especially in Detroit, meant something. I watched Hilmer Kenty win the lightweight title. Not long after that, I was able to witness "The Hitman," Tommy Hearns, destroy Pipino Cuevas for the welterweight title. (Trust me, I'm not being generous when I say Hearns destroyed Cuevas. He dropped Cuevas with an absolute BOMB of a right hand. In his prime, Hearns was a freak of nature who was one of the best of the best)

But you know why I was a fan of Kenty and Hearns? Because those title fights were on regular broadcast television.

I'm sure those in Generation X find it hard to believe. Title fights not on PPV or premium cable? No f'n way! Quaint idea, isn't it? Grow boxing's fanbase by making all but the biggest of the big title fights easy to watch. But that's how it was up to the 90's.

The 80's was a glorious time to be a fight fan, as the big 3 networks carried boxing on a regular basis. You could easily follow the career arc of boxers.

We were spoiled rotten, being able to regularly watch great and charismatic fighters most weekends. Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Larry Holmes, Robero Duran, a young and scarily good Mike Tyson, Aaron Pryor (One crazy mofo), Ray Mancini (I watched the fight with Duk Koo Kim, who died after the fight) Sean O'Grady (Who took the title from Kenty, by the way), Julio Cesar Chavez, Wilfred Benitez, and that's just scratching the surface.

The 1980's were the golden age of boxing.

But in 2007? I have no idea of the weight classes. What's the difference between a super welterweight and a junior middleweight? Nothing, so why the different nomenclature? There seems to be dozens of sanctioning bodies, all with their own champions. They are just a large vat of alphabet soup. WBO, WBA, IBF, YMMV, SOB, SOL, LOL, WTF!

Worst of all, the once mighty heavyweight class is nothing more than a bad joke. Hell, boxing is a joke, period. The promoters, the boxing commissions, the judges, the referees, they are all corrupt, or willing to be corrupted. Pro wrestling is more legitimate.

Boxing is broken, and it's beyond repair.

Yet the media is pushing De La Hoya - Mayweather like it's the next coming of Hagler - Hearns. It's far from it. Is it a big fight? In today's terms, sure. When compared to the 70's and 80's, when boxing was much more mainstream? It's not even close. Ray Leonard - Roberto Duran was on everyone's mind. De La Hoya - Mayweather utterly pales in comparison.

How many of us are going to shell out the serious PPV coin? It's $54.95 on my cable system. You gotta be kidding! I wouldn't pay that much to watch Santa Claus take on Jesus.

As boxing currently stands, it's rotten from the inside out. In order to save boxing, it needs to be killed. And that's never, ever going to happen.

Is this weekend the last gasp for 2 long irrelevant sports, both once called "The Sport of Kings," that have been thrashing about in their death throes?

If you ask me, in my mind, they are already dead and buried.


  1. I've never cared much for either sport. I remember watching Tyson when I was young but I lost all respect for him when I owned his ass in 2 rounds on Tyson's Punchout for the NES. They should combine the two sports before killing them off. I would pay to watch Tyson fight a horse.....hopefully he isnt reading this b/c his broke ass would probably show up and stage it in my parking lot for 20 bucks

  2. You are right they are dying out both of those sports but I love Horse-racing. I will be one of the ones at the Kentucky Derby. go to my blog
    I wrote something about the Kentucky Derby.

  3. I love horse-racing you are right it has dyed Horse-racing and Boxing has dyed out. go to my blog, I wrote about the Kentucky derby. My website is http:// and comment. thank you. good luck at the races!

  4. Yes all lot of people aren't interested in it anymore. I like it!