Chris Byrd (39-2-1) is defending his IBF title for the fifth time, in a rematch of a bout that took place almost six years ago. Byrd will be facing Wladimir Klitschko (45-3) of Germany in Germany on Saturday night in a fight that will be televised on HBO PPV.
Go ahead, and try to find an article about this attractive match in your local newspaper ? ok, wait, don't bother ? I'll save you the time and tell you that it won't be there.
Almost all of today's boxing information is online, and it caters to that small niche of fight fans who live and breathe the sport.
I have been a huge fan of the squared circle for many years, and even I will admit that my interest in the sport has dropped dramatically. It is not all because of the scandals and weird occurrences that happen on a weekly basis; it is just a matter of the lack of good matchups that the sport has to offer.
The lack of hype and mainstream media coverage also has hurt the casual fan, and causes many of us diehard fans to yearn for the days gone by of Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes, Sugar Ray Leonard, and even Prince Naseem.
Let's just focus on the heavyweight division for now. We have the nearly 40 year-old James Toney, a guy whose best days occurred about 12 years ago, still in the mix for a shot at one of the four titles, and we have Oliver McCall, a man who left the ring crying several years ago after a loss to Lennox Lewis, currently rated third by the WBC.
In addition, there is Hasim Rahman as the WBC champion. Rahman is a nice gent who scored a lucky knockout of Lennox Lewis a few years back, only to get pummeled in the rematch, so having him as champ means we know that something fishy is going on in this division.
The other three heavyweight beltholders ? quick, see if you name just one - are not recognized by the general public and probably could wander into the local Starbucks without getting acknowledged.
Have you heard of Nicolay Valuev? He is the WBA champion; how about the WBO champion, the well-known and famous Sergei Liakhovich? Chris Byrd, the IBF title holder, is, perhaps, known only for having zero power, and for out-dancing and out-jabbing his opponents in the ring. He does have flashes of power, but American fans are used to and want to see their heavyweight champions pound the leather and pound the other guy into submission.
There is still plenty of boxing on ESPN, and I recall a few fights in recent years on network television, but those have seemed to disappear fairly quickly. Boxing makes its money, and, in my opinion, rips folks off on those major Pay-Per-View cards. These events used to be times when my friends and I would gather, fire up the grill, have a few beers, and enjoy the action. There have not been many of those gatherings in recent years, and I'm ashamed to say that the last time the grill was fired up was during another Tyson fiasco.
The price for bouts on PPV - and we are not talking good boxing - starts at 30 bucks and works its way up to near $60 for the "Major" battles. There really hasn't been a major battle since Lewis took on Klitscho's brother ? the now retired Vitali.
Plus, while we at it, let me get my two cents in on the undercard fights on these PPV cards.
We used to have the cool factor with Butterbean and women fighters, and now we routinely get to watch Strawweight fighters, otherwise known as the Battle of the Poodles. Not my cup of tea. Boxing just isn't an event that's worth watching anymore or, more importantly, buying.
Hey, this column is almost finished, and I nearly forgot to talk more about that heavyweight title fight on Saturday.
I guess my rants about boxing, which I truly do enjoy watching, have thrown me off track. It is really a sad state of affairs, but I digress.
Whenever Chris Byrd is fighting, and you have to pay money to watch, spend your fifty bucks elsewhere. With that being said, there is some interesting history here, but not enough to shell out the dough.
Byrd defeated Vitali (when Vitali quit with a shoulder injury), and Vladimir avenged his brother's defeat with a decision win back in 2000.
Even though Byrd is the champion and Vitali was left plastered on the ring by 39-year old Corrie Sanders a few years back, Vitali is an almost 4-1 favorite and has home-arena advantage. The prediction here is that this one ends up in a majority draw, with Byrd retaining his title, and thousands more suckers - oh I mean PPV buyers - leaving their couches to yell obscenities at the cold dark skies above.
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