Did anyone notice? There is a major fight at the Garden Saturday

By Rich Mancuso

Yes, this is one of the busiest and exciting weeks of sports in the New York City area. Rangers begin their Stanley Cup quest, though in Los Angeles for Game 1.  There are the two baseball teams still trying to avoid mediocrity, though the Yankees are home in the Bronx. Then there is a quest for a Triple Crown Saturday where over 100,000 spectators will converge at “The Belmont Stakes” to see a horse named California Chrome try and reach racing immortality.

Oh, there is a major title fight also Saturday night at the “Mecca” of boxing, Madison Square Garden. Sergio Martinez attempts to retain the middleweight championship and prevent Miguel Cotto from becoming Puerto Rico’s first four-division world champion.

Forgot to mention, with exception of the boxing media, the possible fight of the year is not a top headline as part of this mega week of New York City sports. Maybe if it was Floyd Mayweather Jr. at the Garden the fight would be a part of this headline week. But that is not the major issue.

The issue: Boxing, to those who make decisions in coverage of sports media is a dead sport. And to be fair, if California Chrome was not seeking to be in elite company, well the Belmont is just another horse race.

However, Cotto and Martinez has been the most talked about fight on the boxing calendar since it was announced. And, Madison Square Garden will be filled to the rafters and once again the reflections of Ali, Frazier,Norton, and more will be talked about, a time when the Garden was home to more than one mega fight in a year.

Cotto is also home. He is the largest ticket seller for an individual event in his nine fights at the Garden.

But the sport of boxing has changed. The heavyweight division was once in command and with exceptions of Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, and Cotto, plus a few more exciting fighters in other divisions, no heavyweight has made a difference to bring the sport some respectability. However that is partly due to a heavyweight champion not from these parts, and boxing has been split with greed and sanctioning organizations that have split the titles into another dimension.

So when popular New York radio sports talk host, Mike Francesa, opened his show Monday afternoon, and mentioned the big week ahead, there was no mention of the Cotto-Martinez fight. A casual or non- existent boxing fan would hardly notice.  Francesa did not receive a phone call about the lack of mention.

And if he did, he would have said, “Boxing is no longer a major sport.” Though, it is to those like yours truly who love the passion and dedication of the fighters who continue to make the sport one of a kind.

Whether it is the controversial outcomes, the alphabet group of championship titles, or the few promoters who make it bad, boxing is still around and will be for years to come.

Just don’t avoid a major championship fight in New York City, at Madison Square Garden. It is not fair to the fighters, those behind the scenes and most of all the true and loyal followers of the sport. Oh, you know there will be plenty of coverage coming from Cotto, Martinez and the undercard fighters here!

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