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
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager - Media Sales - £36,000 OTE

£28000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...

Recruitment Genius: C# .NET Developer / Application Support - Junior

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This business has an industry r...

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They make daily deliveries to most foodservice...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Planner

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They make daily deliveries to most foodservice...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash