If you are a boxing fan, a true boxing fan, you do not watch fights simply to see people beat each other up. To be sure, the physical violence, the threat of danger, is part of the allure. But the exquisite joy of watching a prize fight is not sadistic. It is heroic.
A prize fight provides a opportunitiy for the mere human to become more than human. The two combatants are physically braver than most other people, simply by virtue of participating in the contest. In an evenly matched bout, both fighters will be forced to dig inside of themselves and find resources most people never need to locate, at least not in civilized, modern society. Mental toughness and resolve. Physical resiliency and stoicism.
That is why true fight fans view a mismatch is a crude and grotesque farce. For a real member of the Fancy, there is no pleasure in seeing a superior fighter destroy an overmatched opponent. There is no dramatic arc of heroic over-coming in such fights.
You can find the true heroic grandeur at every level of fighting. I have seen it at amateur smoker or far down on the undercard of a professional event. But there is nothing like seeing it in a fight between true, elite stars, when the best of the best come together to push each other to the brink.
That is what boxing fans were treated to on Saturday night, when Andre Ward came from behind to defeat Sergey Kovalev and claim the WBA, WBO and IBF light heavyweight titles. By virtue of winning that bout, Ward will deserve to be accorded top pound-for-pound status. Kovalev, based upon his own effort in Las Vegas last Saturday, will have to be placed no more than a space or two behind him.
This decision for Ward has been widely criticized by some observers, with others steadfastly maintaining that Ward deserved his victory. Due to the passion surrounding the decision, it has to be viewed as controversial.
But to call it a “robbery” is absurd. Anybody who calls it that is speaking carelessly or else has no real ability to judge a fight. I will address the scoring in a column later this week. For now, I merely want to celebrate what we were lucky enough to experience Saturday–a true, well-fought and heroic championship fight.