I remember the scraps I got into as a young man. I won some. I lost some. I was a kid and neither I nor my opponents were or were to become tough guys. We were just children settling things the way children did back then. Here's the thing, though - we fought dirty. I remember hair pulling and ball kicking to be two of my favorite moves. Such things would never be allowed in a boxing ring. Why? Because boxing is a sport, not a fight.
Fighting is dirty. It consists of two people doing what they have to do to win. Boxing, on the other hand, requires rules and skills. Sure enough, the best boxers in the world are rarely tough guys. Floyd Mayweather is a master tactician, perhaps one of the best to ever lace up a pair of gloves. I doubt, though, that anyone would consider him a tough guy.
Here's the truth - boxing used to look a lot more like real fighting than it does now. Guys fought with bare knuckles and were allowed to throw each other around. Those days are over, though. John L Sullivan would have had a far better chance of beating the hell out of Jim Corbett in 1892 if he were allowed to throw the guy around. He couldn't, however, because theirs was the first modern heavyweight title fight. That means Sullivan and Corbett were engaged in a sporting event rather than a brawl. And Corbett knocked Sullivan's ass out.
Look at it this way - could Ali have bested Foreman if they had fought in a bar parking lot? Could Mayweather have bested Pacquiao under such circumstances? What about Leonard?Could he have beaten either Hagler or Duran had there been no rules? The truth is that boxing is first and foremost a sport rather than a tough guy contest.
And frankly that's the way it should be. As they say, it's skills that pay the bills.