The Arc of Boxing

The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science


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About the Book

Are today’s boxers better than their predecessors, or is modern boxing a shadow of its former self? Boxing historians discuss the socioeconomic and demographic changes that have affected the quality, prominence and popularity of the sport over the past century. Among the interviewees are world-renowned scholars, some of the sport’s premier trainers, and former amateur and professional world champions. Chapters cover such topics as the ongoing deterioration of boxers’ skills, their endurance, the decline in the number of fights and the psychological readiness of championship-caliber boxers. The strengths and weaknesses of today’s superstars are analyzed and compared to those of such past greats as Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Jack Dempsey and Jake LaMotta. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Mike Silver is a former boxing promoter and inspector with the New York State Athletic Commission whose many articles on boxing have appeared in the New York Times, The Ring magazine, Boxing Monthly and ESPN and Seconds Out websites.

Bibliographic Details

Mike Silver

Foreword by Budd Schulberg
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: 61 photos, graphs, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014 [2008]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9387-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0218-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Foreword by Budd Schulberg      1
Preface      5
Panel of Experts      11

1. Origins      13
2. The Golden Age      29
3. The Incredible Shrinking Sport      35
4. Paying Their Dues      44
5. Cooking the Books: Boxing’s Nutty Knockout Numbers      70
6. Where Have You Gone Charlie Goldman?      74
7. Boxing’s Missing Links      90
8. The Good, the Bad, and the Inconsistent      97
9. Fistic Forensics: Two Fights Analyzed      104
10. Too Much Amateur      113
11. The Dominance Factor, Part One: Roy Jones, Jr., and Bernard Hopkins      129
12. The Dominance Factor, Part Two: Roberto Duran, Pernell Whitaker, Floyd Mayweather, Jr.      147
13. The Bigger They Are—The Harder They Fall      166
14. Boxing’s Snake Oil Salesmen      177
15. Boxing’s Death by Alphabet      202

Epilogue      217
Appendix: Statistics for Reigning Champions      219
Chapter Notes      221
Bibliography      223
Index      225

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Recommended as a valuable source to give historians a raft of interesting insights on [the] sport.”—Journal of Sport History
  • “Lively…Silver explored the magic, studied the history”—Philadelphia Daily News
  • “If you care about boxing…it’s future, it’s past or both…then you have to read this book…thoroughly researched…articulately argued”—Newsday
  • “True aficionados, whether they ultimately agree with Silver or not, are sure to enjoy his book for its unmistakable knowledge and passion”—The Ring
  • “I loved everything about this book…should be required reading…very interesting…highly recommend it”—Cyber Boxing Zone
  • “Is a must…meticulous research”—Boxing Digest
  • “Compelling…entertaining treasure trove of boxing ‘insider’ knowledge”—newsblaze
  • “The most definitive analyses…I have ever read…belongs on every fan’s bookshelf…an important work that reverberates with insight and wisdom…a must-read”—thesweetscience
  • “Lots of people know boxing, but not many understand it: its spirit, its cultural significance, its storied past and probable future. Mike Silver is one of the few…anything he writes is essential reading for the true fan of the sport.”—David Margolick, author of Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink
  • “Mike Silver is the go-to guy when boxing historians need information. His eye-opening book argues strongly that boxing ain’t what it used to be. Argue back if you want, but not before considering his opinions and the facts. A must-read for all fight fans, especially the young ones who think the sport started with Mike Tyson.”—Steve Farhood, boxing analyst for Showtime and former editor-in-chief of The Ring magazine