I have a confession to make. Boxing is my guilty pleasure. I used to try to rationalize it with a sophisticated discourse on the "sweet science" of it all, but the truth of the matter is that the reptilian portion of my brain simply gets off on the primordial nature of the beast.
Thus, I was left utterly empty, neither guilty or pleasured, after slogging through last night's heavyweight title unification snoozefest between Wladimir Klitschko (champion of both the Incompetent Boxing Federation and the Inept Boxing Organization) and the misleadingly-named Sultan Ibragimov (champion of the Woebegone Boxing Organization).
Klitschko, the heir apparent to Lennox Lewis, the last universally recognized heavyweight champ worthy of the mantle, has vowed to clean up the alphabet soup mess in the division by winning the belts of all five self-anointed boxing organizations. Of course, that would require Wladimir himself not be a part of the mess, which, based on last night's performance, he clearly is.
Klitschko entered the ring in Madison Square Garden, the temple of boxing, with two titles, 49 victories, 44 knockouts, a magazine cover-worthy body sculpted with muscle, and a Ph.D. Regrettably, only the Ph.D. showed up to deliver a seminar on how a huge, stiff, one-armed man can keep a small, stiff, no-armed man at bay for twelve rounds of academic exercise.
Willing to risk nothing but his reputation and fan interest, Klitschko spent the first four rounds using only his left, to jab and deflect Ibragimov's awkward, extended right lead with a parry that undoubtedly wowed the fencing aficionados who'd tuned in. By the time he finally unleashed a right, the paying audience had taken to playing games on their cell phones in between intermittent boos.
And so it went, for twelve desultory rounds. Even Emmanuel Steward, Klitschko's trainer, became disgusted with his fighter's self-satisfied, do-the-bare-minimum approach, chastising him before the final round and reminding him that there is more to sport than receiving another diploma from an accrediting institution. Scolded Steward, "All you keep doing is holding, and holding, and holding. You have to try to knock him out or this is going to be bad." And bad it was, as Klitschko turned a deaf ear and waltzed to the finish, apparently mindful of his glass jaw, which has been shattered three times by undistinguished opponents who have rendered him unconscious.
Now all that remains for the janitor of the heavyweight division to clean up are the champs of the Wretched Boxing Council (Oleg Maskaev) and the Whimsical Boxing Association (Ruslan Chagaev). It's enough to make one pine for Jerry Quarry (RIP).