A phrase first coined by Pierre Egan a British sports writer during the early 1800s. Mr. Egan was trying to connect with the people of that time who saw boxing as a bare knuckle, violent sport of barbarians.
His first article used the phrase "The Sweet Science of Bruising." The article acknowledged boxers as both methodical and tough. It talked about the strategy of the most popular but illegal sport of that time.
When I think of “Sweet Science” and giving the term a definition, the first boxer that comes to mind is Sugar Ray Leonard. He was the epitome of grace and athleticism combined with strategy, training and smarts. He made boxing an art form. Before him and my time was Sugar Ray Robinson. He also possessed the strong mind to go with the athletic body and technical but smooth approach to the sport.
A boxer and a fighter are two different things. No different than a pitcher and a thrower. A boxer has a mental approach and understanding of his opponent’s weaknesses, this separates him from a fighter who just wants to brawl and throw punches.
Incidentally both Robinson and Leonard got their nicknames from the phrase “Sweet Science”. The earlier Ray became referred to as Sugar because of his mastering of the “Sweet (as in sugar is sweet) Science” the name stuck and became one of the great nicknames in sports history.
When Ray Leonard came along, jumping rope and looking like a model; athletic, polished and comparable to Robinson, it was Sugar Ray all over again.
I have always loved the sport. One of my best friends, Chris Sullivan would provide me all the lowdown on fighters, boxers and upcoming fights. The late 70s, 80s and early 90s were prime time for some of the best boxers of all time. He made sure I didn't miss a great match up and gave me insight into the up and comers. We often watched ESPN’s Friday Night Fights. He was an expert on knowing the undercards.
His best pick was when he didn't allow me to miss a teenage prodigy. This boxer combined brutal force along with great feet and a smart approach. Before the world knew of Mike Tyson, Sully made sure I did.
What would you expect from a good Irish, Catholic son of a father, Jim, who liked the same two things, boxing and basketball.
Back in the day you had Ali, Frazier, Holmes, Shavers, Spinks, and more contenders than I have space for. I must mention Jerry Cooney. Later on there was Evander Holyfield then came Mike Tyson’s wrath of knockouts.
In the lighter weights you had Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, Thomas "The Hitman” Hearns, Hector “Macho” Camacho and probably a few I forgot.
There were at least two or three great fights a year, worth going out or getting the gang together to watch. This was long before today’s mixed martial arts, MMA. Can you imagine how the English of the 1800s would view this?
Well my friends the excitement of yesteryear is back. Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Manny Pacquiao from the greatest boxing venue in the world, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It doesn't get any better if you're a fan of the “Sweet Science.” "Money" Mayweather is 47-0, a five division World Champion who has appeared unbeatable by anyone, past present and future, during his career.
“Pac Man” Pacquiao is 57-5-2 over his illustrious career. The South Paw is an eight division World Champ. Unfortunately he is also older and a little more weathered then Mayweather.
This fight has been in the making for years, it's a shame that the two couldn't have gotten together a few years back. It will still be a great matchup. The delay hurting Mr. Pacquiao and making him more vulnerable to a knockout at the hands of Mayweather.
My sons have never experienced a World Championship main event boxing match like this and I'm sure there are many fathers and sons in the same boat. Here is a great idea, get the men together for a Fight Night.
Family, friends, young and old, the more the merrier. If you don’t want to watch it at home head out to Rivals or your favorite sports bar. Absolutely take your age-appropriate sons but also be on your best behavior. It will be a late night; it will also be a first time and memorable time for many from the younger generations.
So, in the spirit of long time referee and Judge Mills Lane, “Let’s get it on,” and hopefully enjoy the rebirth of Saturday Night at the Fights.