There are no rules in the eras of fashion and music. Anything goes. It’s all individual taste and personal style.
After all, what was the big deal about a few broken ribs and some internal damage just as long as the corset fit back in 1920?
But in sports, we have this insatiable need to bridge one time to another, comparing athletes from then to now.
Take, for example, boxing.
Manny Pacquiao will make a secondary welterweight world title defense against Adrien Broner on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, that is if the latter can stay off his phone long enough to try to prove wrong the odds that have him a plus 250 underdog.
Broner spent most of Wednesday’s final news conference staring at a smartphone screen, eventually offering a few profanity-laced tirades, first directed at the promotion itself and then Hall of Fame broadcaster Al Bernstein.
That was before Broner aimed racial stereotype remarks at supporters of Pacquiao.
Broner calls himself “The Problem.”
Here’s the real one: He’s a disgrace.
I’m not sure the fight needs any such level of vulgarity to inspire the masses to attend (tickets still available) or pay to watch, given this has the makings of a decent match but certainly not one fans of the welterweight division want most to see.
Broner acting like a fool isn’t going to push any extra buttons of interest, and yet some believe his antics might be the one thing that sells the fight beyond a level most forecast.
We have — until he proves otherwise by coming out of retirement and fighting someone other than a Japanese kickboxer in some farce of an exhibition — entered a post-Floyd Mayweather period for the 147-pound class.
Pacquiao is 40 and can’t have but a few fights left in his Hall of Fame career. We once had Oscar De La Hoya and Fernando Vargas and Felix Trinidad. We had Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran. We had Mayweather and (still) Pacquiao. Come on. Sugar Ray Robinson, for goodness sake.
But now arrives another period of transition, and how names such as Keith Thurman and Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. and Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter ultimately paint the picture of the welterweight division in the absence of Mayweather and soon Pacquiao is a bigger mystery than if Broner can string together consecutive sentences without swearing.
“There are a lot of good 147-pounders out there who make it a good division right now,” said Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, who returns to Pacquiao’s corner Saturday after a brief split. “But the biggest problem hasn’t changed: The great ones never fight each other.
“Bob Arum and Don King hated each other as promoters, but they still did business together. Crawford (managed by Arum) should fight Spence (managed by Al Haymon). The winner would be the best fighter in the world. But it might never happen. A guy like Spence needs more television time. People outside boxing have no idea who he is. They probably ask what sport he’s in.”
It’s ironic. There never has been more platforms on which to watch boxing, but as the American market has become oversaturated with sporting options, the all-too-familiar hurdle of too many sanctioning bodies and belts and world titles and champions make it almost impossible for mainstream fans to passionately embrace the sport as they do others.
It could be this simple: Haymon needs to step up.
Many of the division’s top fighters are represented by his Premier Boxing Champions company, and with a new four-year, multiplatform agreement with Fox, those prime-time events should begin with having the best welterweights oppose one another.
Fox cares about a return on its investment with strong ratings, yes?
Also, history is pretty clear: When this division is getting after it with great fights, there is nothing better to entice dollars from fans.
“I’m not sure about where the pecking order is with the welterweights now, just that we want to see them fight,” Bernstein said. “They’re capable of creating another generation of great fighters in the division. It doesn’t matter that they’re not as good as previous generations. They’re probably not. But in their own way, they can deliver some incredible moments.”
Let’s hope it’s against each other.
Contact columnist Ed Graney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.
World’s best welterweights and their next fight:
1. Keith Thurman: vs. Josesito Lopez, Jan. 26, Barclays Center.
2. Errol Spence Jr.: vs. Mikey Garcia, March 16, AT&T Stadium.
3. Terence Crawford: vs. Amir Khan, April 20, Madison Square Garden.
4. Danny Garcia: vs. Adrian Granados, April 20, site TBD.
5. Manny Pacquiao: vs. Adrien Broner, Saturday, MGM Grand Garden.
6. Shawn Porter: vs. Yordenis Ugas, March 9, T-Mobile Arena.