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Farmer: Weekend shows two sides of boxing state (Sept. 19)

Douglas Farmer | Monday, September 19, 2011

 

This weekend showed what boxing can be, what boxing should be and why boxing should not be.

In Las Vegas, Floyd “Money” Mayweather knocked out “Vicious” Victor Ortiz to win the WBC Welterweight title Saturday night.

In Purcell Pavilion, Notre Dame’s own product, Mike Lee, earned a unanimous four-round victory over Jacob Stiers Friday night.

Mayweather pocketed $25 million, most of which will go to pay his court fees as he battles various lawsuits and criminal cases.

Lee donated $100,000, largely raised by the fight, to the Robinson Community Family Center in South Bend and the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation.

Truly, the event Lee put together — and much of the work really was done by 2009 graduate himself — could not have been classier. It opened with a five-fight undercard, highlighted by Troy Lowry’s knockout of Travis Loveless and Elkhart native James Shorter overcoming a 63-pound deficit to knock out Boris Shisporenok, who could have been mistaken for an aged Ivan Drago circa “Rocky IV.”

Come 11 p.m., as more than 100 O’Neill Hall residents chanted for Lee, a former O’Neill resident, Regis Philbin added to the glamour. Parseghian himself stood ringside, and Daniel E. “Rudy” Ruettiger was in attendance as well. How much better can it get?

Certainly, even before Lee’s win, the first professional boxing event at Notre Dame fared better than the sham in Las Vegas would.

To summarize, in the fourth round Ortiz head-butted Mayweather. The referee penalized Ortiz for the blatant foul. As the referee called for punching to resume, Mayweather jumped at an unsuspecting Ortiz, landed a left-right combo, and knocked out “Vicious.”

At Notre Dame, Lee demonstrated what boxing should be, a sporting competition which creates electricity and buzz. In Vegas, Mayweather showed what boxing can be, a great opportunity to show immaturity.

More often than not, boxing delivers the latter. The sport of Ali and Sugar Ray (twice) has become a money-grubbing version of a fourth-grade argument.

Try explaining the concept of boxing to a four-year-old. Most conversations with my niece Avery entail more refrains of “Why?” than my patience can tolerate. Yet discussing boxing brought forth the penultimate letter of the alphabet more frequently than Big Bird would on an episode of “Sesame Street sponsored by the letter ‘Y.'”

Boxing has reached a point where Avery could not be more right. Why?

Why do we still put two men in a ring to pound the living daylights out of each other?

Every one of the 2,500 estimated fans at Lee’s fight winced when Lowry dropped Loveless. Loveless, previously unbeaten, dropped face first and probably never felt himself hit the canvas.

Why do we pay money to see Loveless fall?

We could go to a local bar and wait for the sparks to fly. Pick the right bar, and more often than not at least one fight will involve more bloodshed and ramifications than Lee’s and Stiers’ did.

And why do we continue to give Mayweather attention?

The 34-year-old has lost a defamation lawsuit filed against him by his biggest competition — Manny Pacquiao, who, coincidentally, wished Lee good luck and “Go Irish” Friday night via the video screen. Mayweather has faced numerous charges of assault in one form or another, and after his ill-gotten victory Saturday, all but threatened 80-year-old HBO analyst Larry Merchant.

Lee will excel in any field he enters. He will indeed continue to rise up the boxing ranks, as he is a complete package in the ring. But the charming Chicago native has a business degree from Notre Dame. He does not need to punch for a living.

There are other ways to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to research for a cure to Niemann Pick Type C, the disease the Parseghian Foundation fights.

While Lee does show what boxing should be, why should boxing be?

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Observer.

Contact Douglas Farmer at dfarmer1@nd.edu