Mancuso: Klitschko Loss at the Garden Could Benefit Boxing

So how would a Wladimir Klitschko heavyweight title loss benefit the sport of boxing? Should the undefeated Bryant Jennings end the Klitschko championship reign at Madison Square Garden Saturday evening, first and foremost the heavyweight title comes back to America.

And for years, prior to the Klitschko dominance of the division, boxing thrived on the heavyweight title to be a face of the sport. However for the last ten years or more, it has been the Klitschko brothers, the other Vitali, who had every piece of the alphabet soup heavyweight championship. Vitali has since retired and there was always talk of keeping those titles in the family.

The major sanctioning organizations were pleased. The Klitschko brothers looked so prominent and hand picked opponents, also defending their titles a majority of the time at packed arenas in Germany or in the region of Western Europe.

It worked because the WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO, the major sanctioning organizations that rule the sport, allowed the Klitschko regime to dominate. The regime generated more than enough revenue to the sanctioning bodies and who was to complain about that? After all this is the sport of boxing, and regulation has never been a key or deciding factor, hence the proliferation of alphabet championships that make the common boxing fan more confused.

Jennings has the potential, if indeed he dethrones the Klitschko regime. He can take boxing and the heavyweight division to prominence, though many will say that this division of mediocrity will never be restored to the days when boxing thrived because of the heavyweight champion.

This Klitschko brother, though not denying his credibility and talent, has held a piece of the heavyweight titles since 2006 when he won the IBF version from Chris Byrd. He is fighting in the United States for the first time since 2008 when he fought at the Garden and has 17- straight title defenses.

And on the heels of a mega-fight, Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao, that takes place a week later in Las Vegas, a win for Jennings can only put boxing more in the spotlight. Perhaps the sport of boxing that once gained major headlines when the heavyweight title changed hands will once again get the proper attention with a Jennings win. Boxing has been in a stalemate over the years, primarily the heavyweight division not having a prominent American as champion is a main culprit. For years the sport thrived on that heavyweight title and a defense of that championship held in America.

The late boxing historian and author Bert Randolph Sugar always said about the mediocre heavyweight division: “You can put all those guys in a lineup and tell me who they are?”

But there are more reasons as to why boxing has lost the luster. And it can’t all be attributed to the once and proud heavyweight title that went into mediocrity. There are those who attribute the popularity of MMA and the proliferation of alphabet soup belts that contributed to a demise of the sport.

Then there is the heavyweight division, once proud and for boxing where most of the attention was gained. There was no more Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. Then the Klitschko regime started to bloom, and the days of an American holding a piece of the heavyweight title were gone.

Madison Square Garden, host of the Klitschko-Jennings HBO televised championship bout, is the appropriate venue. Garden officials are expecting a sell-out and by all means a major heavyweight title bout returns home because this is where a fight of this magnitude rightfully belongs.

As to why a Jennings win would be beneficial to the sport? Think about the implications of a heavyweight division that has young and promising talent looking for a piece of the title. Jennings, 19-0 with 10 KO’s, and representing Philadelphia, has that marketability to go forward and open the door for more promising title fights in the division.

The sanctioning organizations will surely listen to the promoters and provide boxing fans with a defense of the title, or get the ball rolling to unify the division and do it all on American soil. The WBC heavyweight title holder, Deontay Wilder presents a good opportunity to do it.

And with boxing now making a type of comeback, in the spotlight with help from Pacquiao and Mayweather, a changing of the guard Saturday night at Madison Square Garden does benefit the division and overall will put some more attention on the sport.

So it will be up to a young and talented Bryant Jennings to make a difference.He does have the talent and ability to pull it off. If not, how much longer of this Klitschko dominance of the heavyweight division continue?

Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Mancuso Twitter@Ring786

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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