The Marquess of Queensberry Rules are safe for now. No, stand-up fisticuffs are not to be replaced with Irish Whips, Koronco Busters, Cactus Clotheslines, People's Elbows and Money Shots…wait, let's not be hasty—maybe Floyd Mayweather Jr. would have something to say about that last one.
When it comes to combat, boxing is fine as it is. And detractors need look no further than two days ago, on Saturday, when the fierce eight-year competition between old rivals Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez was provided with a decisive finish midway through their fourth duel, when Marquez rendered Pacquiao unconscious at the end of the sixth round with a punishing counter right.
The elite-level brutality both men endured throughout the 18 minutes—with multiple knockdowns, a busted nose, split skin, swellings and a helluva Hollywood finish—restored memories of all-time great battles like Marvin Hagler vs. Tommy Hearns and Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo.
It would be hard to top Pacquiao vs. Marquez IV. Even if you provided them both with a tag-team partner like Nonito Donaire for Manny and Rafael Marquez for Juan Manuel. Even if it was two out of three falls. Hell, this had more falls than a typical Iron Man Match and there may yet be a fifth chapter.
There is one man who thinks boxing can learn a couple tricks from WWE about how to sell its product, though. One chap relatively new to pugilism but one who, in that short space of time, became entrusted into Mayweather's inner circle (before later ousting himself), won the admiration of promotional behemoth Bob Arum and amassed a healthy stable consisting of boxers blessed with athleticism and reflexes (Yuriorkis Gamboa and Andre Dirrell).
That man—SMS Promotions founder Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent—marveled at the theater of WWE in a recent interview with USA Today and stated that boxing can replicate that in its ring entrances, much like Prince Naseem Hamed, Roy Jones Jr. and Hector Camacho did in the 1990s.
(We should) use some of the theatrics that you see in WWE and bring them into a sport that doesn't have a question mark. We know boxing is real. We don't say 'is that real?' like [you would in] wrestling. If you add those different elements to it you can offer something that would be entertaining enough to watch the entire show [and not just the main event].
Jackson's debut as a promoter occurred on the same night as the Pacquiao-Marquez IV main event. 50 Cent's featherweight supremo, Yuriorkis Gamboa, had been out of action for 14 months but was lined up against Michael Farenas.
Arum had intimated that the entrance may be one to watch and 50 delivered as he reintroduced Gamboa to the boxing universe by rapping an expletive-laden track ("My Life") whilst mid-air, slowly making his way from the ceiling to the canvas. Gamboa then came to the ring and, even though he was made to labor, sparked his opponent out.
It was quite a statement. And perhaps a surefire way of guaranteeing butts are in seats for the whole event, as opposed to the final fight of the night.
In a slight twist, though, if 50 continues to push with his unconventional entrances, people may still rub their eyes in disbelief muttering the words he probably doesn't want to hear: "Is that real?"