A nothing boxing year ends
As the year comes to an end and we look back on boxing for 1999, one thing stands out.
It was a stinker of a year!
No really good fights at the top end of the scale for professionals with many disappointing fights among the champions and top contenders. On top of that, very few, if any, fights stand out as very good or outstanding.
The most obvious disappointment are the two fights between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield for the undisputed heavyweight championship.
Both fights stunk! Lack of action, lack of intensity and lack of talent contributed to those stinkers and if not for the fact that the judges really screwed up that first fight with their amazing draw decision, we probably wouldn’t have had a rematch.
The first Lewis-Holyfield fight in March at Madison Square Garden had very little real fighting action, was a tad on the boring side given the stakes involved and what happened inside the ropes hardly justified a rematch. However, the bad decision did lead to their rematch in Las Vegas and while the second fight was a little better than the first, it certainly was no classic or even an outstanding fight. But at least, in my opinion, they got the right winner when Lewis was awarded a unanimous decision win.
Another fight that was no classic and a bit on the boring side was the much anticipated welterweight unification showdown between Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad in September in Las Vegas.
Not only was the fight a tactical contest with neither fighter taking any chances, it bored the crowd and the pay-per-viewers. When De La Hoya stopped fighting for the final three rounds – thinking he had done enough already to grab the decision – it got even slower. And in De La Hoya’s case, dumber, as he gave away a sure win with his no-fighting tactics.
While I do think the judges got it wrong and De La Hoya won, it was close and not an out-of-line decision like the first Lewis and Holyfield fight was.
Even the best fighter around, Roy Jones Jr., seldom fought and when he did he outclassed the so-called contenders he was fed. I can’t think of a decent fight he was in all year long. Can you?
I must say the De La Hoya win over Ike Quartey earlier in the year was a pretty decent fight, but as I look back over the top fights and many of the cable TV fights I saw, nothing stands out or rings a bell as a great or better fight.
I’m sure we all saw some good fights and I probably wrote about them at the time but nothing so good that it sticks in my mind.
There were plenty of bad cards, too. One example of a bad card and some results was the TV card from Mississippi last week. The main event lasted 109 seconds before bantamweight champ Tim Austin whacked out inept Bernado Mendoza. Also on the telecast, former heavyweight contender Ray Mercer won even quicker when he knocked out someone named Jim Haynes in just 43 seconds. Also, former heavyweight champ “Crying” Oliver McCall stopped Will Hinton in less than a round as well. A two-hour telecast with less than four minutes of actual fighting! Amazing!
Even Mike Tyson’s comeback fight was a farce. Not only with what happened when he fouled Orlin Norris, but his general decline with the paying public and boxing people.
Nevada wanted him to “get out of town by sundown” and Tyson did. He fights some turkey in England next month and the man who was once the top draw on pay-per-view telecasts, now can’t sell enough tickets to warrant pay TV so his fights are on Showtime.
Tyson can spark some interest in the sport if he wins a few fights impressively and challenges Lewis for the title but off of what I’ve seen the last few years, Tyson’s marginal skills are gone and he needs to get lucky – like he did against Frans Botha – to win a fight. I doubt Iron Mike will fool the public anymore and his best days are behind him.
So from what I can see, boxing will be better in 2000 than it was in 1999 but that won’t be hard to accomplish. A few good fights at the top level will bring back the interest of fans but until that happens, professional boxing is in the doldrums and may not snap out of them!
– In amateur boxing, the news is better. First off, while 1999 was not a spectacular year for amateur boxing, there were some decent matches and the future looks good.
Next year the Olympics take place and amateur boxing takes the spotlight. The Olympics usually produce some very good fights, the U.S. Team always seems to do OK and we might get some decent amateur champions who will turn pro and liven them up.
Either way, the amateur spotlight will shine brightly as we get the Olympic Trials, a lot of good tournaments and eliminations as the best fight the best for a spot of their country’s team.
– On the local scene, the Carson City Boxing Club started up last February and they have progressed very well since starting from practically zero.
Not only does our local team have some good volunteer coaches, the fighters are young and learning and with the experience of fighting in a few invitational tournaments now under their belts, the boxers should improve and be even better next year!
The local club, which also hosted a couple of cards this year, plans to do the same next year. The first local card is set for March 25 at the Ormsby House.
– On the local pro scene, Caesars Tahoe will host two or three pro cards again this year, as will the Cal-Neva in Reno and the Reno Hilton has plans for a couple of pro cards. so we’ll get our fair share of fights in Northern Nevada both in the professional and amateur ranks.
– Have a great and safe New Year’s celebration and we’ll see you right here again next century!
Alan Rogers is the Nevada Appeal boxing writer.