Its not called 'Sweet Science' for nothing by Peter Leopeng

After covering and having witnessed many boxing matches over the years, I cannot help but wonder whether some boxers involved in the sport know what it is all about.

Boxing, pugilism, prize fighting , the sweet science has been described as a combat sport in which two people engage in a contest of strength, speed and reflexes, endurance and by throwing punches with bare fists or gloved hands against another opponent.

In more simple terms it is about hitting your opponent and not getting hit in return.

The trick of the trade is using your two hands either to block punches thrown at you, or using your hands to hit your opponent. Because it is not possible to do both, that is to hit and block at the same time, boxers have to decide what they want to do in a particular time. Of course blocking punches isn’t the only method of defending one self. Ducking or what is called bobbing and weaving is also a good way of avoiding punches.

So if boxing is about hitting and not getting hit, why do certain boxers encourage their opponents to hit them more? Is it a question of “you can hit me, but you cannot hurt me”?

Is it to discourage the other man from hitting them because they are wasting their time? For me, this is where they completely miss the mark. Proving how tough you are by absorbing punishment is silly at best and downright dumb at worst.

Other than the fact that you do not get awarded points by the judges for showing how well you take punishment, getting hit can also be detrimental to your health. But alas, boxers do it.

On the local front, the king of “bring it on, you are not hurting me” has to be Daniel Bruwer. The man can take it on the chin, on the jaw, on the nose as hard as you can dish out, and he will still be smiling and talking to his opponent. He did that against Flo Simba and Danie Venter in losing these two fights. He also did it against Fikile Nyalunga, who dropped Bruwer twice before “Billy The Kid” finally prevailed and stopped Nyalunga in the eleventh round for the vacant South African junior heavyweight title at the Orlando Community Hall in Soweto recently.

Another fighter, the man who made this art of “Mr Tough Guy” seem easy was Ricardo Mayorga. Using his tough as nails jaw, Mayorga frustrated former world champion Vernon Forrest by offering him his chin and asking him to hit as much and as hard as he wished.

In their first fight in 2003 in California for the WBC welterweight crown, Mayorga stopped Forrest in the third round. In their return match in Las Vegas Nevada six months later, Mayorga again defeated Forrest over 12 rounds.

After their first encounter, it was clear that Forrest wasn’t sure how to handle Mayorga. Suddenly he had no confidence in the ability to hurt his opponent. Remember Forrest was the first man to defeat Shane Moseley, not once but twice.

Pound-for-Pound king Floyd Mayweather Jnr, goes by the name of “Pretty Boy”, not because he thinks he is pretty, but because his opponents hardly ever land a punch on his face.

This is the genius of “Money”. Watching him box, Mayweather captures the concept of the “Sweet Science”.

The man is a marvel to watch. While boxers are still occupied with figuring out how to nail him, Floyd is hitting them and leaving them dazed and confused. In his latest fight when he easily defeated Robert Guerrero, Guerrero senior, who trains his son, showed his frustrations after the fight when he said Floyd could not mix it with his son, but he was way out of line.

This is where trainers, who are supposed to be guiding their boxers, also miss the purpose of boxing. Ruben Guerrero accused Mayweather of not standing in front of his son and fighting. He said when Robert hit Floyd, Floyd ran like a chicken. What he was really saying was that Mayweather should have allowed himself to be hit to prove how macho he was.

Now that was the last thing Floyd was going to do. The result was a predictable landslide victory for Mayweather, because Floyd makes what boxing is supposed to be, a sweet science.

Some may argue that being tough and durable might work in a boxer’s favour because this would discourage their opponents from continuing to hit them. However, I have seen very little evidence to support that argument. This could also be detrimental to their health in the long term.

Whether this is the case or not, depends on the boxer dishing it out. So although it might seem obvious, boxers need to be constantly reminded that the art of the Sweet Science is to hit and avoid being hit.