‘Self destruction’ – noun
“the destruction or ruination of oneself or one’s life.”
I’m not going to begin this week’s column with a term of misunderstanding. By definition, ‘self-destruction’ relates to the self-ruination of a person’s life; I’m not positioned to comment on an individual fighter’s personal life, I am however positioned to pass judgement on their boxing career, where it currently stands and potentially where I think it could be going.
For too many fighters in today’s pugilistic haven, the road to self-destruction isn’t a proposition that shadows itself in the horizons of decades left in the sport, its right upon them, it’s now.
Two of the sport’s most high profile characters have spent large amounts of the past two years out of the ring for differing reasons. Whether self-inflicted or not, the records still remain the same.
Past victories can make you successful, they can make you great, but they don’t make you current, they don’t make you flavour of the month, they don’t make you the word on the street.
For two fighters to have such extended periods on the peripheries, both appearing to be in the prime of their fighting careers, to sit out large portions of such a short occupational career – whatever way you cut it – is a real shame.
2016 has to be a big year for Andre Ward and Amir Khan.
The ‘Son of God’ had arguably his most successful period in the sport during a two year stretch, beating three potential HOFers in Arthur Abraham, Carl Froch and Chad Dawson – but that final bout was almost three and a half years ago, let that sink in for a while.
Since the Dawson victory, Ward has laced them up with Edwin Rodriguez and Paul Smith Jnr, remaining unbeaten but equally unimpressive, certainly inactive and definitely uninspiring.
Last week it was confirmed Ward would take on hot contender Sullivan Barrera in a fight at 175lbs to kick-start his journey seven pounds north of the border. An impressive, dominating stoppage performance is needed, nothing short will suffice.
Fans have memories of great past victories on recall, but in boxing you don’t stay relevant all-too long. Ward needs to capitalize and re-gain some profile prior to his mooted bout with Sergey Kovalev in the fall. Taking no world title, no viewership and a minimal fan base won’t suit too kindly on Ward when the chips are divided.
It’s kind of ironic that both these fighters operate out of the same Oakland base, Yet find themselves, whilst in comparatively differing situations, also surprisingly similar.
Amir Khan has been led up the garden path firstly by Floyd Mayweather and then Manny Pacquiao in recent years as the talented Brit sought a fight with the two premier pound-for-pound fighters of the generation. Unfortunately to no avail.
It’s time for the former Olympic silver medallist to stop chasing and see the wood for the trees. Again, great victories at light welterweight against Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana and Zab Judah live long in the memory of fans, but only for so long, the Judah fight was four and a half years ago.
Uninspiring wins and losses to Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson, Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander and Chris Algieri have followed, but Khan has also spent large periods on the shelf gathering dust in this time.
A huge all-British fight is proposed this year with IBF world champion Kell Brook at Wembley, but Khan needs to stay active and keep fighting.
Whilst I find his humanitarian word commendable and inspiring, his inactivity and apparent divorce with boxing as a whole I find concerning.
For Khan to challenge Brook on the mooted June date in England’s capital, the former champion needs to be fighting in March to shake of the cob-webs of a ten-month hiatus – as of right now nothing is confirmed and to dive straight into a fight with Brook would be foolish at best.
2016 needs to be a big year for both Ward and Khan, prolonged spells on the side lines will be legacy damaging, anything less than delivering fire and awe, could also be too.
Enough self-destruction guys – do what you do best, that’s fight.