Those who were crying for blood during the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao megabout (?) in May 3 who ended up disappointed are in the dark on how boxing has already been “sanitized.”
There are certain fights in boxing’s history that led to the “sanitization” of the sport’s history and one of them is the brutal fight between Ray Mancini and Kim Duk-koo on November 13, 1982.
Like many boxers from Asia, Kim of South Korea wanted a world crown and showed a lot of bravado during the fight by slugging it out with the American.
Mancini eventually stopped Kim in the 14th round but the Korean was hospitalized and died four days later. When Mancini-Kim was staged, championship fights were up to 15 rounds. So the Korean could have survived the fight literally had the bout been limited to 12 rounds.
The death of Kim was among the reasons why championship fights were reduced to 12 from 15 rounds.
Also put into place to safeguard the health of boxers is the standing eight-count, where a fighter who takes a flurry of punches and fails to throw back is given a respite of eight seconds, which in turn rewards the boxer who lands the punches with a knockdown and a perfect score of 10 in the scorecards. Had this rule been in place during the Mancini-Kim fight, the Korean would have survived the fight.
Referees have also been given more liberty to stop a fight if one of the boxers takes a flurry of shots and fails to answer back with his own punches. And we have seen many fights where a referee stops a fight even if the other fighter is not yet beaten black and blue. Case in point is the bout between Jose Luis Castillo and Diego Corrales on May 5, 2005, where in the 10th round the referee saved a hapless Castillo from taking more punches from Corrales. And come to think of it—Castillo registered two knockdowns against Corrales before the tide turned in the 10th round.
But should we all believe that boxing is really sanitized to a point severe injuries or deaths could be avoided in the ring? The answer is “no.”
One good argument against that is the fateful fight between Nigel Benn and Gerald McClellan on February 25, 1995, which ended in McClellan giving up in the 8th round and sustaining brain damage. Up to this day, McClellan is bound to a wheelchair and needs special care. There are boxing critics who blame the referee for not stopping the bout earlier.
The use of the Compubox scoring system also gives fighters who can no longer knock out their opponents a chance to win by landing more punches. And even if Compubox may have its flaws, it has been widely accepted by the boxing community.
The creation of “junior” and “super” weight divisions to the traditional list of weight classes also prevents bigger fighters from having a big weight advantage over smaller fighters, at least during the weigh in. Among the latest weight classes to be created is super middleweight (168 pounds) that addressed the large 15-pound weight gap between middleweight (160 pounds) and lightheavyweight (175 pounds).
When Mayweather-Pacquiao was staged, there was no way it could matched the hype it generated. And given the influence of social media, the fight was really hyped off the roof.
Had Mayweather-Pacquiao been staged up to 15 rounds and without Compubox and the rules that sanitized boxing, the American would have taken chances to go toe-to-toe with Pacquiao occasionally, while the Filipino would not have resorted to simply chasing Mayweather all night long.
But boxing today has been sanitized to a point truly exciting fights have already become rare. And here are boxing fans clamoring for a rematch between Pacquiao and Mayweather! That’s like giving license to boxing promoters to take the public for a ride another time.