The heavyweight championship hasn’t really possessed significant juice since Mike Tyson became vulnerable and Evander Holyfield got old and Lennox Lewis walked away with health and senses intact in the early 2000s.
And in the meantime boxing itself was co-opted by a mutant version featuring cartoon characters fighting with hands and feet inside a cage. The MMA took the fascination for elemental combat and covered it in garish graffiti. Its stars come and go seemingly with the cycles of the moon, leaving behind few traces that they were ever here.
When boxing matters, it is simultaneously beautiful and repellant. It is a grand showcase of will and courage and a guilty pleasure for those who dodge the blood and sweat at ringside.
When it doesn’t, it is just an empty sideshow.
Let us lay Muhammad Ali to rest next to the sport that he made grand.