Before I get started let me say that boxing in the U.S. will never be at the level it once was. There is just too much going on for boxing to reclaim its position on top, but there is no reason it should be on life support.
In 1990 there was no one alive who didn’t know Mike Tyson was the World Heavyweight Champion. If you asked 100 people today I would wager that less than 1% would know that the current world heavyweight champions are Wladimir Klitschko(WBA, IBC,WBO,TheRing), Vitali Klitschko(WBC) and Alexander Povetkin(WBA). Did you notice that I put the WBA twice? That is because Klitschko is the WBA Super Champion and Povetkin is just a regular champion. I don’t get it either. The point is boxing in the U.S. is dying fast and part of the blame belongs with the sanctioning bodies, but the biggest problem is the lack of American talent in the heavyweight division.
The unknown to all outside the boxing world, Chris Arreola is the highest ranked U.S. fighter on Ring Magazine’s Heavyweight Rankings and he is at #9. He sits behind 7 fighters out of the former Soviet Union and 1 guy from Finland. Why did Rocky go over there and beat Drago if we were just going to let them have the heavyweight division back?
Are there any quality U.S. born heavyweights out there who could contend for the title one day soon?
Alexander “The Great” Flores (21) is young and promising but will he capture the attention of the starving fight fans out there. He has great personality and will appeal to fans so he has the upside. He will never be feared and that may be his downfall.
Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell (30) is undefeated, but has not faced top competition. He is a former Michigan State football player and he is pretty charismatic. He is starting to get some play on HBO so his time is coming, but at 30-years-old he needs to step up quick.
Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (26) is 23-0 with 23 KOs to his credit. Standing at 6’7, Wilder is the future of U.S. heavyweight boxing. After being the only U.S. fighter to win a medal at the 2008 Olympics (Bronze), Wilder has carved up all competition put in front of him. He is winning fights and moving up the boards. The country needs to see him start blasting some big names and he could be a star.
The thing that none of these fighters posses is the pure fear factor that George Foreman or Mike Tyson brought to the ring. When we saw Mike Tyson in his prime, people would say out loud “I would never fight that guy, he looks like he would kill me.” Tyson and Foreman had that. These guys don’t.
Can they capture hearts and minds of the American boxing fans? I hope so. This sport needs it bad.