HOT Stories more

Boston sues Wynn Resorts Ltd. again


Wilbon says 'Boxing is dead' and 'Soccer is rising'

April 03, 2012 3:00 AM by Mark Mayer

"I am sad that my son will never know what me and my dad cheered. I sat with my father listening to Ali-Liston. I miss boxing, but it’s dead," –Michael Wilbon.

Talk about dropping a bombshell in the middle of Shangri-la – Shadow Creek, pristine site for last weekend’s Michael Jordan Invitational charity golf tournament.

And with his golf game in fine form, an 82 as a 13-handicap on one of the nation’s premier courses, the influential ESPN commentator was relaxed in treading on some touchy waters to Las Vegas bettors.

"I came to Las Vegas for 30 years as a Washington Post boxing writer," said Wilbon, who along with fellow ex-Post columnist Tony Kornheiser, have hosted ESPN’s signature show PTI (Pardon The Interruption) since 2001.

"I covered a lot of Tyson fights, Holyfield fights, Bowe fights," Wilbon said. "I never looked at (gambling) lines. I know they are set to inspire action and predict outcomes, but I am not a bettor. I miss boxing, but the culture has moved on. It’s dead."

Dead? Certainly on life support as superior management and marketing of the MMA and UFC have left boxing on the canvas. Still, a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight immediately revives the patient.

But dead?

"Kids are growing up wanting to be tight ends and not boxers any more," Wilbon said. "The heavyweight division died off because guys wanted to do something else. I don’t care about MMA and will never watch it. But I am in the minority there."

So what’s alive, Michael?

"Soccer is rising here, but pro football has a hold on everything," he said. "Basketball went into a lull when Jordan left, but it’s coming back with exciting people like LeBron, Kevin Durant, D-Wade and Rose in their prime. Both soccer and basketball have international appeal. Nobody cares about football outside of America, but that’s what we care about."

Wilbon also has some sobering words about his own industry.

"Back when I was at the Post, we had journalism," he said. "Now it’s Twitter where everybody is a publisher. "I have to adhere to my own standards that were in place before Twitter showed up. I am not going to change what I do. I have another forum so Twitter isn’t my primary thing."

With social media outlets dominating the Internet, newspapers, sadly, are facing the same fate as boxing – the graveyard.

"You’re right about that," Wilbon said. "There’s not just one place to shop anymore. But if I were out of college today, I would still be involved in journalism. Story telling is still storytelling. I just don’t know what format it will be."


• Covered 10 Summer and Winter Olympic Games for the Washington Post, every Super Bowl since 1987, nearly every Final Four since 1982 and each year’s NBA Finals since 1987.

• Contributing to ESPN’s The Sports Reporters and other shows on the cable network, he began co-hosting ESPN’s daily Pardon the Interruption (PTI) with Tony Kornheiser on October 22, 2001. On December 7, 2010, he wrote his last column for the Washington Post and officially dedicated full time to work for ESPN and ABC.

• Born in Chicago, Illinois; 1980 graduate of Northwestern; Lives in Bethesda, Md., but has a home in Scottsdale, Ariz.


Check out our writersCheck out our writers

top stories

The head of MGM Resorts International is heading to Springfield this week to shore up support for its $800 million resort casino. President William Hornbuckle visits the city on Monday to “reaffirm” his company’s commitment to building the downtown complex.

Churchill Downs Incorporated and Saratoga Harness Racing, Inc. have completed the previously announced transaction whereby CDI has acquired a 25 percent membership interest in Saratoga Casino Holdings, LLC for approximately $24.8 million.

​Boston’s latest effort to block construction of the $1.7 billion Wynn Resorts development is a bad idea that will not to anything to serve the best interests of the of the city and its citizens.

MGM CEO Jim Murren says his company is adjusting its operation to a changing market in Macau and the adjacent Cotai Strip. That’s the same approach that Las Vegas operators have taken over the years as they responded to changing market conditions.

It doesn’t have to be a big game to provide big betting value. Such is the case in Chicago where the two worst teams in the American League Central meet.

Stratosphere Real Deals for Real People

GamingToday Race and Sports Futures

           Westgate Superbook  Stratosphere Sports Book  

                Wynn Sports Book  CG Technology