James Lawton: Boxing devoid of greats is sport with no soul

This is probably not the week of the death of heavyweight boxing, the arena of great men like Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Jack Johnson and, when his mind was on the job, Lennox Lewis. Maybe lurking in the Bronx, or the high-rise jungle of East Saint Louis, is another phenomenon of dark and thrilling force?

But it just does not seem to be that way when one of the weekend's smaller headlines referred to the latest controversy involving Andrew Golota, who complained that he was jobbed out of victory in his International Boxing Federation world title fight with Chris Byrd, the sole native-born American among the six fighters who by Saturday night will have fought for a part of what used to be the most fabled crown in all of sport.

Byrd is a technically adroit fighter with zero capacity to stir the blood. Golota, 36, showed considerable promise in the mid-Nineties, ruining the last of Riddick Bowe but also much of boxing's credibility. Eight years ago he provoked a riot in Madison Square Garden, found various ways to quit in big fights, and simply fell down before the fury of Lewis in the old convention hall on the Atlantic City boardwalk. That he should be fighting for the great prize so long after the years of disgrace tells its own sad story.

On the undercard John Ruiz, who last year had his ears boxed off by the puffed-up middleweight Roy Jones, defended his World Boxing Association title against his obscure fellow Puerto Rican, Fres Oquendo.

In Los Angeles on Saturday Vitali Klitschko, whose greatest claim to fame is that he came close to beating Lewis on a night when the former champion had made one of his periodic detours around his own training camp, fights the moderate South African, Corrie Sanders for the World Boxing Council belt once worn by Ali.

So where are the raging bulls, the angry young Tysons, the warrior Holyfields, the pounding Foremans? They're bulking up on steroids and going to the plate as sluggers or tearing up the gridiron. It leaves a wrenching hole in the fabric of the sporting life, but then some might say it is better than the alternative. By this they mean a return to the days when a young black American had a simple choice: he could fight, or he could forget any hope of the good life.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test