The dust had barely settled on one of this summer’s blue-ribbon sporting events before the curtain raised on another. Less than 24 hours after Friday night’s Basketball Hall of Fame ceremony in Massachusetts, boxing’s best and brightest put on a similarly lavish show across the Atlantic.
Kazakh bruiser Gennady Golovkin sold out the O2 Arena quicker than most people can spellcheck his name; the chance to see him defend his historic knockout streak enough to make tickets for Saturday’s show the hottest in London town.
Not since Mike Tyson’s primal procession in the late ’80s has a fighter truly laid claim to the moniker of “baddest man on the planet,” his tear through the heavyweight ranks akin to that of a 10-pin bowling ball. More often than not, the skittles were skittering before Iron Mike had even hit the lane.
And while Golovkin has managed to reinvent that particular wheel of late, parallels with Tyson must be kept in perspective. After all, any such comparison between a middleweight and a heavyweight is, by its very nature, an exercise in relativity. Although the mythical “pound-for-pound” rankings have stirred barroom chatter since the Marquess of Queensberry was still in short pants, they remain just that — mythical. So obvious is the need for weight categories in boxing that there seems little need to devote any more commentary to the subject. David vs. Goliath storylines are likely to remain firmly in the wheelhouse of Vince McMahon for some time yet.
More interesting, however, is the absence of any such categorization elsewhere on the athletic spectrum. The fact that little Leo Messi can steal Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s lunch money is but one instance of that. Similar examples abound in almost every discipline, yet basketball remains among the exceptions that prove the rule. So difficult is it for a sub-six footer to succeed at the top level that there may as well be a rollercoaster-style height test at the combine. One need look no further than this week’s Hall of Fame class for proof of that.
Indeed, while the gargantuan frame of Shaquille O’Neal might be very much by the book, Allen Iverson is probably buried somewhere in the appendices. Such is the disparity between the pair that they could easily find themselves cast in an upcoming Twins remake.
Whatever you feel about Arnie, you have to suspect Danny DeVito would appreciate that particular analogy. After all, DeVito also made a career punching above his weight.