Saturday, April 23, 2016

How Long Can A Boxer Ride The Hype Train For?

After a point, one has to look reality dead in the eye

First things first, I'm a boxing writer, not an MMA writer. I've been asked to write about MMA before, but have politely refused as it's just not in my wheelhouse. Having said that, I think it's a legit and interesting sport. In other words, I'm not one of those boxing hipsters who bashes the damned thing. I think MMA is great - I simply think boxing is better.

With that in mind, this whole Conor McGregor brouhaha has piqued my interest, Why? Because it reminds me a lot of boxing, that's why. Here we have a young guy hyped beyond all rational thought, a man who we were told could essentially beat anyone, anytime, anywhere. Except of course, he couldn't. And now he's publicly making waves.

You MMA experts out there are free to call me out on this, but McGregor looks like he may be a decent enough fighter who was hyped to be a great fighter...and is now lashing out because he suddenly realizes his own limitations. In a sense, he reminds me of boxers over the years who endured such humiliation.

For example, Primo Canera is largely said to have been a mob hype job. Sure, he attained the heavyweight championship of the world, but when he finally had to face a serious threat in Max Baer, the results were as brutal as they were humbling.

Adrien Broner is a more modern example of the hype job. The sad thing about Broner, of course, is he probably could have been so much more. But frankly, that's on him. As it stands, the fight world was left with a very talented fighter who was sold as the heir to Floyd Mayweather - even thought the evidence clearly suggested otherwise.

It took a run-in with Marcos Maidana for the world to see the truth - that when you let your skill level plateau, you become more show than go. And that makes you a hype job. Perhaps like McGregor, people mistook real talent and brashness for greatness. Both guys have emulated Mayweather. Unlike Mayweather, however, neither has been able to back up his self-promotion.

All of this, oddly enough, points to one Canelo Alvarez. Although Canelo is a far more likable individual than Broner or McGregor, fans are starting to wonder if the man is now riding on a bit of hype. Make no mistake about it, Canelo is  VERY good boxer. Why isn't he facing Gennady Golovkin, however? Why the avoidance?

Popularity and earning potential is great, but it doesn't equal greatness. The history of boxing has been littered with the names of amazing athletes who were conveniently pushed aside. Fighters used to be able to avoid menacing competition by saying they wouldn't fight someone of another skin color. Now fighters due the same thing by pointing out a threatening opponent's lack of popularity or potential earnings.

It's all very white collar these days - and all very much complete bullshit.

So, how far can can a boxer ride the hype train for? If the above examples are any indication, not very far. Team Canelo, however, may be trying to push the envelope. Let's see how long the ride lasts. Who knows? Canelo may ultimately end up living up to the hype. What a treat that would be...a guy who could back up all the talk without resorting to being a big mouth like McGregor or Broner.

Here's hoping.

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