I know this has been reported on over at MMA Weekly but it is just so infuriating to a true fan of the sport that after reading it I had to come here and write a little...something about it.
Over at CBS Sportsline Mike Freeman has posted posted a completely biased, unfair and factually incorrect article touting De La Hoya/Mayweather as "Boxing's Last Stand." For those of you who aren't familiar with me I also write for SB Nation's boxing website BadLeftHook so I deeply care about both the sport of MMA and the sport of boxing.
I'm going to break down the main "ARGH!" points in Freeman's column.
Boxing is fighting for its life, and in some ways the largest obstacle to its rebirth is its greatest competitor -- the worst league ever invented, the UFC. Which means it is good vs. evil, Halle Berry vs. Courtney Love, true sport against the mosh pit of sweat and bloodied skull fractures known as ultimate fighting.
I know this is a set-up to what he is trying to get across...but what bloodied skull fractures? Mere months ago I saw a man take a beating in a boxing match for 12 rounds before collapsing to the canvas. I turned to my friend and said "he might actually die" because it was obvious that the fight should have been stopped by the ref, his corner, or the attending doctor. He fell into a coma and required emergency brain surgery. Both boxing and MMA are violent sports...you're comparing Golden Delicious Apples to Red Delights. They're different, but in the end they're both apples...apples with a goal of punching another guy in the face.
Mixed martial arts will never be as good as boxing on its worst day. Many of the ultimates are nothing but thugs and ruffians. All that league has done is take a few former nightclub bouncers, knuckle crackers and parolees, put on some fancy TV graphics and told them, "Kick the other guy in the nuts."
No skill is required to knee someone in the groin (and it happens despite rules stating it is illegal). I'm kneeing Doyel in the groin now. See, was that difficult?
Where to start with this one? De La Hoya/Mayweather is an exciting fight...one that has two marketable fighters who are both nearing the end of their careers. This is likely Oscar's last fight, and as for "Pretty Boy" Floyd...he has indicated that he is nearing the end of his career in some recent interviews. As a huge boxing fan, let me clue you in on something...there is a good chance that this will be a boring fight. Floyd will likely stand on the outside and pepper Oscar with shots and never really get into the slugging exchange that is Oscar's only real chance to win. I'm excited as hell for this fight, but am also half expecting a dud.
Now the kneeing in the groin line? Mike is right, there are plenty of knees to the groin in MMA. Just like there are plenty of punches to the groin in boxing, and headbutts in the clinch (I'm looking at you Evander), and you know...the occasional biting off of another man's ear. Plenty of rules get broken in both sports, to play up low-blows in MMA as somehow worse than Boxing is unfair. Many great boxers have said that they use their elbows as another weapon on the inside to cause cuts.
The thing that people like Mike do, is play it off as "crafty" in boxing while any bending of the rules in MMA is viewed as "barbaric." I like rules, I want them played by...but hell, every sport has moments of pure shame where rules are thrown out the window. NBA players brawling with fans, MiamiU players stomping on the heads of downed opponents in an all out brawl, baseball players jacked up on steroids to the point of having 7 inches of muscle on their pinky toes. Don't give me this "Mixed martial artists are encouraged to kick in the groin" garbage because unless you've been in the corner of a fighter where he was told to do so...you are just saying things as truth that you have made up. Presenting opinions as facts is shoddy journalism.
Earlier Freeman talked about the UFC having nothing but "a few former nightclub bouncers, knuckle crackers and parolees" ignoring the Olympic level wrestlers and judo players as well as the world championship level submission wrestlers and BJJ practitioners. Of course now he talks about the same "bad character" elements in boxing and uses the "charm" angle.
Notice the word: skills. This match will not resemble a bar-room brawl but meticulous, highly practiced, man-to-man warfare between two skilled, all-time athletes.
Again, Olympic level athletes are the norm in MMA. I see more grace and skill in a man who can knock someone out standing or get them on the ground and smoothly transition into a submission attempt. Don't get me wrong, I love my boxing and there is a hell of a lot of skill involved...but only in stand-up striking. In a fight (in the real world) someone like Oscar would likely get to throw one or two punches before someone like...say...Olympic Silver Medalist Matt Lindland would be able to grab him and wrestle him to the ground where Oscar would be helplessly out of his element. It's one of those annoying "what-if" scenarios...but it is true at the same time.
I guess I'm not saying anything new. And I feel good living in a time where opinions like Freeman's are becoming more the exception than the rule (compared to the bad ol' days of a few years back). But these articles being put out there are bad. There are people whose first exposure to the sport of MMA won't be watching a fight, but reading an article like Mr. Freeman's filled with information that is just plain wrong.
Mr. Freeman, should you ever happen to read this...I love boxing, I really do. The idea that it is Boxing vs. MMA and one must go is wrong. The two have about as much to do with each other's success as football and baseball. The idea that the world can not handle both is wrong. I for one want to see both sports in a healthy state with big fights on tap every single week. That to me is a perfect world. And lets face facts: both sports have managed to survive horrible fights involving Butterbean.