Boxing is supposed to be in its death throes. It’s like the book business of sports–both dinosaurs whose primacy was jacked by slick replacements like the Kindle and the UFC® (that’s mixed martial arts, and it’s addictive entertainment). Critics like to point out that there was a time when most people on the street could name the heavyweight champion of the world. Not anymore. (Where have you gone, Iron Mike?) But the sweet science felt a million miles from dead in Las Vegas Saturday night, when after a battery of punches from each side, the unrelenting Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez irradiated boxing’s only remaining superstar, Manny Pacquiao, with a perfect punch that made the arena shake like Thunderdome. Pandemonium was no louder, said the devil, who was ringside.
Also ringside was 50 Cent, the hip-hop artist and entrepreneur, who doesn’t think the sport’s down for the count. In fact he’s just getting into the boxing biz, having recently won promoter status in Nevada. 50 either has a real gift for seeing emerging markets (his early investment in Vitamin Water made him at least a quarter billion dollars) or he’s just a really lucky guy (he did once survive being shot nine times). Either way, it sure sounded like he was in the right place again when the MGM Grand exploded with that punch on Saturday night. Pacquiao, once he got off the floor and out of the hospital, had earned $30 million just for losing. Yeah, 50 Cent knows what he’s doing. Boxing is back.