I grew up on boxing. Some of my earliest memories involve watching the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier "Thrilla in Manilla" live on ABC TV in the afternoon with my big brothers. I was the only devoted Larry Holmes fan in my sixth grade class. I mean devoted as in I wore my Larry Holmes t-shirt to school weekly. During the golden era of great middleweights, I even took up lawn mowing to pay for the HBO subscription my mom wouldn't get just to keep up with "Sugar" Ray Leonard, "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler, Thomas "Hitman" Hearns and Roberto "Hands of Stone" Duran.
But somewhere something changed, and the last few times I tuned in for a non-Manny Pacquiao boxing bout, I was bored stiff. Instead of fighting to win in a convincing finish, too many boxers today are content to use movement and speed to outscore their opponent with frequent-but-meaningless blows, then dance away from danger. The preeminent example of this is Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Zzzzz. Just the mention of his name makes me drowsy. Pitter, patter, dance, pitter, patter, dance, repeat for 12 rounds.
Dave Doyle points out that this menace is not safely contained in boxing, but has begun to infect MMA:
(Frankie) Edgar, meanwhile, could be on the cusp of an MMA style shift. His blazing speed, unpredictable hand and foot movement, and ability to dart in and out of range and score points en route to a decision victory might not make him the world's flashiest fighter, but it sure has made the Toms River, N.J. native effective. It's similar to the method Dominick Cruz has employed as WEC bantamweight champion. And while this style hasn't yet been given a catchy nickname, success breeds imitators, so if this keeps up, this over-the-top, stick-and-move, point-scoring standup game could be the next wave in MMA's evolution.
I have great respect for Frankie Edgar and his abilities as an MMA fighter and an athlete. Ditto for Cruz. But God save us if we have to battle a two-front war against lay and pray on the one hand and jab and jive on the other.
Or does Brian Knapp have a better name for it:
Cruz danced and dodged throughout the 25-minute affair, scored timely takedowns and eked out a split decision over Joseph Benavidez in the WEC 50 "Cruz vs. Benavidez 2" headliner on Wednesday at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Two of the three judges sided with the champion by 48-47 and 49-46 scores; a third scored it 48-47 for Benavidez.
I watch MMA to see conclusive, unpredictable battles between athletes determined to get a dramatic and definitive win over their opponent. Submission, knockout, it's all good. Hell, I even prefer a really dominating Fitch'ing to one of Cruz' dance dance decision type bouts.
But until other athletes can solve this riddle in the cage, those of us who merely write about MMA can only try to document the atrocities. What do you think this new menace should be called?