For one, I have always found it striking that at the end of a very difficult boxing match the two protagonists would generally hug each other out of respect for having waged a significant battle, no matter what the outcome. As a young man, I had several amateur fights and know first hand how challenging it is to face someone whose objective is to hit you as hard as possible and do as much damage as possible to win a match, within the limits of the rules and regulations. Boxing is direct; you are the team.

Boxing is scored on KO, TKO, and on points. Boxing is regulated with three judges seated around the ring and a referee whose sole purpose is to ensure that no fouls occur, that neither contestant is beyond defense, and that it is judicious to continue the bout. It is a sport.

There are many arguments pro and con boxing. The best pro argument would be a close look at the WestPoint Boxing Program, a model for the sport on an amateur level which demonstrates all of the good things about the sport that has been prized since the earliest Greek Olympics and the Etruscan Age. The worst would be the scandals, the occasional deaths, and the AMA’s findings on excessive trauma.

The prospect of Ultimate Fighting, where the goal is essentially to destroy the other opponent, is the moral equivalent of prostitution, human cock fighting, or Russian Roulette. It is an unconscionable, unsportsmanlike miscarriage of boxing’s best elements. In fact, in boxing, referees are in the ring to ensure that precisely the kinds of things that happen in Ultimate Fighting do not occur in boxing.

As a society, we need guardrails. In some states prostitution is legal, in others it is seen for what it is; in some states the death penalty is legal, in others it is seen for what it is. In this case, New York has a chance to identify Ultimate Boxing for what it is: a barbaric pseudo-extension of a good sport. We hope that it remains illegal here. Moreover, we would hope that at some point, people would have the point beaten into their sensibilities that there should be limits on what is considered to be entertainment, limits on what is acceptable social appetite, and definition on what is sport and what is sadistic. In Ancient Rome, part of the decline of the Empire came with spectacles of barbarism and gluttony that had no precedent even in barbarous, pre-Roman times.

Boxing is a worthwhile sport and must be sustained as such and regulated as such. New York is a leader in regulating this sport. The State now has the opportunity to lead as an example of what is deemed acceptable, civil, and proper behavior.