On Boxing, or The Bad Relationship I Can’t Seem to End

I like boxing. I know it is violent and it is aggressive, but I don’t see that. Rather, I don’t see it as that. Instead, I see intellect and strategy; a game in which two people try to out-think one another, reading their breathing, mannerisms and maneuvers to determine when their opponent is going to strike, and when to land a blow of their own. Boxers must maintain a mental map of their surroundings and ignore the cacophony raining down from all sides, all while focusing on the opponent in front of them. I watch boxing and look at individuals who exemplify, strive for, or (in many cases) attempt to lay waste to the concept of ring generalship. That is what I see when I watch boxing and that’s what I loved about it.

Over the years, however, love tempered to like. Instead of being the object of obsession I’d watch and read about over and over again, then talk about with anyone who’d feign interest in a “dying sport,” it became meh. Like many relationships that begin with a ravenous fervor, things have decayed to the point where boxing is my theoretical bad boyfriend:  It lifts me up, makes me feel great, great match-ups are promoted and I’m assured of our long-term future together. The months and weeks leading up to fights are filled with excitement and entertainment as media days come and go and we’re given snippets of sparring sessions showing the combatants at their finest (sometimes). Gossip and bullshit flows forth from boxing message boards.

Then it gets shitty. Those whispered promises of great matches never come to fruition because bouts end up sucking, Those skilled fighters, who wooed us with public training days or stories leaked from camp about sparring partners dropping left and right, show up safe and boring on fight night. And I’ll spend more time thinking about the snacks I’ll eat than the fights on the card. Or, Christ, a boxer who had half a year to prepare for his fight shows up out of shape and unprepared. Just when I swear it’s over, I can’t take anymore of it, and I’m about to swear off my fandom — boxing gives me a good fight! Just like the Phillies reveal the promise of better days with a single good game only to shit the fucking bed  a few weeks later, and the cycle continues.

This happens most often with Wladimir Klitschko fights. I’ll be hopeful, but will eventually be reminded that he can’t/won’t pull the trigger on his right anymore and he’s too much in his own head to give me those thrillers I want. Then I’ll wind up hate-watching, rant about the ref not taking away points for holding, then go on Facebook and talk shit about the match, see everyone else talking shit, feel validated for a bit, then have peanut butter on a spoon.

But then there’s a Matthysse-Molina.

And Golovkin is on the rise…

And Kovalev won a unanimous decision this past weekend and literally put the fear of God in Hopkins’ eyes….

The cycle continues.

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