Is professional boxing dead?

Is professional boxing dead?
December 16
12:55 2020

Last week I wrote about the boxing showcase headlined by Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. Following that exhibition, the professional fight of the year between Errol Spence Jr. and Danny Garcia happened and let’s just say, I was left wanting more from the fight. As we close out 2020, that led me to start thinking about how bad the state of boxing is and will it ever rebound.

Spence is one of the pound-for-pound best boxers in the sport and Garcia is a former welterweight title holder, so I thought the fight between the two boxers was going to be reminiscent of the great middleweight bouts of the past.

Unfortunately for fans, it seemed like both fighters were too methodical with their approach, making for a somewhat boring fight. Spence won by decision, but I was hoping for more action. It makes me think that both fighters were fighting to protect their records and/or titles, instead of fighting to beat the other man.

Overall, it was an enjoyable fight for boxing purists with two of the best fighters in the sport. My question is: why didn’t this bout garner more attention from media and fans? If this was 10 or 20 years ago, this would have been one of the biggest fights in recent memory.  

At first, I wanted to blame COVID-19 for the lack of interest, but I don’t think that was the biggest reason. I have come to the conclusion that boxing does not have the same draw that it did a decade ago.

What really confirmed my belief was when I saw the proposed exhibition fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Logan Paul that is supposed to take place on Feb. 20 of next year. It was amazing to see how many more people were posting about the newly announced exhibition versus how many people discussed Spence vs. Garcia.

I never thought we would come to the point that an exhibition between a retired fighter and an Internet sensation would be more popular than a fight with two of the best boxers in the sport.  

The writing was on the wall for boxing starting in the early part of the 2000s when Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) began to really take off. The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ushered in a line of superstars that started to eat into the popularity of boxing.

The UFC roster around that time included such superstar names like Quintin “Rampage” Jackson, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, Anderson “The Spider” Silva, BJ Penn, Georges “Rush” St. Pierre and Randy “The Natural” Couture and many more. The best thing about MMA was that the best fighters in each division routinely fought one another, which was a stark contrast to what boxing was offering at the time.

Another advantage MMA had over boxing was the frequency it was shown. There is an MMA pay-per-view every month and each event is headlined by a superstar fight. Boxing, on the other hand, maybe had two or three top tier fights each year to look forward to at the time.

Finally, as the UFC continued to bring new stars to the forefront, boxing stars were beginning to age, and the sport did not have the same marketing savvy to do the same as the UFC. Boxing has a few stars, but not the household names like the UFC was able to make out of many of their fighters.

I feel I grew up in the last great era of boxing. There were superstars across all divisions of boxing and that is just not the case nowadays. When I was a kid, we had names like Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield, Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad and Pernell Whitaker to look forward to seeing in the ring.

That list got even longer as I became a teenager and young adult. It was like there was a great matchup to look forward to every couple of months. Right now, boxing is in a place that I don’t think they can recover from. I feel like boxing was too arrogant in their dominance in combative sports and did not take other entities like the UFC seriously. Now they are paying the consequences.

By allowing promoters to handpick fights, along with the poor marketing by the sport of boxing, many fans have gravitated to other sports or other forms of entertainment in general. With the amount of streaming services available, people have sports, movies and TV shows to look at with the tap of a button on the remote.

Boxing can be fixed, in my opinion. If I were in charge of the sport of boxing, the first thing I would do is eliminate the multiple boxing organizations, because there are too many belts. I would make one champion per division to eliminate confusion and make the belt worth that much more.

Secondly, I would have all of the top-ranked boxers in the division fight one another. If there was only one belt per division, I guarantee boxers would be more likely to fight the best of the best.

I feel one of the biggest mistakes boxing makes is not marketing their fighters to the best of their abilities. The UFC does a great job at this. You see UFC fighters on many platforms such as TV shows, movies, video games and commercials. Boxing should take a page out of the UFC’s playbook and market their fighters to a broader audience.

Lastly, I would get rid of the promoters. They are one of the main reasons the sport has declined so much in the last 20 years.  

I sincerely hope boxing has a chance to return to the glory days of old, because I am worried if it continues on this path, it may never recover.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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