The Problem With Australian Boxers
More Than Anything, Sport Needs Drama For Australians To Truly Love It.
Yes, sport requires skill and strength and stamina, but perhaps more than anything sport needs drama for us to truly love it.
Witness Premier League football without crowds as an example – it’s like a curry without chilli, perfectly acceptable but lacking that real kick.
At least with the footy codes that run for a season, the drama accrues organically across the year; rivalries are created, revenge is demanded, momentum is built. We want to watch.
For boxing, the bulk of the drama is manufactured away from the ring in advance of the fight. Trash talk and hype lead to anticipation and intrigue. Much of it contrived, but we still lap it up.
By the time the guys get in the ring, we’ve already had sporting drama before a punch is even thrown. The fights between Anthony Mundine and Danny Green weren’t classics, but we loved the build up perhaps even more than the action.
Our favourite boxers over the years have either been knockout animals like Tyson, showman like Sugar Ray, or pre-fight entertainers like Tyson Fury.
In Australia at the moment, we have none of that. Jeff Horn was our last recognisable world champ – he even beat Manny Pacquiao – but he was frankly a little bit too polite away from the ring.
Tim Tszyu brings drama – he’s a great fighter and the shadow of his father Kostya provides an instant narrative.
Tszyu junior aside, we’d rather see Paul Gallen in the ring. Or Sonny Bill. Or, at a push, even Todd Carney.
NRL players come with ready made grudges, they're happy to do the trash talking
The most hyped boxing bout in Australia this year was between Josh Papalii and Ben Hannant – a Canberra Raiders prop, taking on a retired Broncos prop. Three two-minute rounds with head guards on – barely a step up from Corporate Fight Night. But at least it provided curiosity.
Paul Gallen has somehow become the most interesting thing in Australian boxing, when he was far from that in his own sport. If he ever takes on Sonny Bill it will be a sell out.
The thing is, the NRL players come with ready made grudges, they’re happy to do the trash talking, and they come with the recognisable baggage of a drama-filled career.
When Jay Roach directed Meet The Fockers, he cast Robert De Niro as the father, because he came with a ready-made history that made him an instantly scary character without doing anything – the same applies to the punchy league players.
Whatever happens in the ring, we’ve already had some drama.
So who else would we like to see come to blows?
Back in the day, we’d love to have seen Paul ‘The Chief’ Harragon and Mark ‘Spud’ Carroll go for it.
Mark Geyer vs Wally Lewis would have been a close second.
In the modern game, it would be interesting to see Cam Smith and Cooper Cronk punch out their differences.
And what if we want beyond the boundaries of Rugby League?
Messi vs Ronaldo would be worth a look. Nick Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic would have some real spark.
How about Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan revisiting old rivalries.
The possibilities are endless.
We’re up for anything when it comes to Australian boxing at the moment. Apart from Australian boxers.