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Boxing, like I said a decade ago, is over

About 10 years ago, I announced my retirement from boxing through one of my columns.

It went something like this...

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It's official. I am announcing my retirement from boxing. I've had some great times with boxing, but it's time I hung up my gloves and staggered off into the sunset. After watching what was billed as "The Fight that can Save Boxing" between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya, and the resulting split decision, this time I am done for real. No, really.

My love for boxing started when some of the best heavyweight boxers in the history of the sport faced off against each other. My family gathered around a radio to listen to the first Ali-Frazier bout.

Many people of my parents' generation detested this cocky, loud mouth, draft-dodging, recently converted Muslim of a boxer. But there was something about his charisma and his ability to back up his fighting words that drew me to him. I went on to watch, listen or read about nearly every one of Ali's fights after that from the "Thrilla in Manila" to his brilliant display of boxing skills to defeat George Foreman, then the scariest man on the planet, up to and including what to me is the most memorable Sports Illustrated cover with an aging, beaten, and tired Ali sitting in his corner unable to answer the bell against heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, who like me grew up idolizing Ali.

As the torch was passed to Larry Holmes, so to was my interest in boxing. I watched as Holmes dispatched every competitor he faced. I went to Frank and Mary's on Md. 97 with some friends to catch the fight that pitted Holmes against Gerry Cooney, "The Great White Hope," whose face by the end of the fight looked like a side of beef from the first "Rocky" movie.

As Holmes was taking care of business and no real competitor was in sight, the class of boxing moved to the middle weights to larger than life fighters like Roberto Duran, "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler, Thomas "Hitman" Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard. I remember many a night driving to Charlestown Race Track in West Virginia to pay the $20 entry fee to catch eight horse races and the Main Event on a big screen TV in the middle of the track.

The pendulum began to swing back to the heavyweights with the onset of Mike Tyson. Thanks to my buddy "Bomber" telling me about this young kid he saw destroying his opponents on the USA Network, I caught most of Tyson's early fights.

Once he moved to the world of pay-per-view, I — along with millions of others — shelled out my $50 to watch him transform from an intimidating bruiser to a sad freak show.

But at least it was entertainment.

Boxing's time in our sports landscape has come and gone. With 17 weight classes and not one unified champion in any of them, boxing has become a joke. I've seen way too many fights where the judges have chosen the wrong guy.

Why can't we take the top boxers in each weight class and form an annual "March Madness" where the fighters can only advance to the next round after knocking their opponent out?

Let's take out the subjectivity of the judges' scorecards and allow these men to duke it out until the last one is left standing. Is there any wonder that people are now watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship?

Back to the present, and speaking of UFC, I find it a bit ironic that 10 years later the fight that may bring my attention back to boxing involves a UFC champion, Conor McGregor taking on the undefeated boxing champion who some say is the greatest of all time — the same Floyd Mayweather that caused me to lose my taste for boxing in the first place.

This isn't going to be much of a fight. Mayweather should destroy him.

Taking a mixed martial arts fighter into a boxing match is like asking Lionel Messi to run off tackle against "The Steel Curtain."

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McGregor may be one of the best in his sport, but taking away some of his weapons and putting him against a precision fighter like Mayweather will expose his weaknesses and cause his demise.

I'm not at all a fan of McGregor, and these world tour shenanigans have shown just how desperate boxing has become in trying to recapture its glory days. But going back in time to remember the fight that caused me to leave in the first place, I think Mayweather's undefeated record should have an asterisk by it anyway from the De La Hoya fight.

Regardless of who wins this fight, they both could learn from the Hall of Fame football coach John Madden, on his view of winning: "Self-praise is for losers. Be a winner. Stand for something. Always have class, and be humble."

Yeah, OK.

410-857-7896

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