I was watching the UFC on Fox last night when I had a thought. Why doesn’t boxing do something like this? I don’t mean ESPN Friday Night Fights. The fighters there are often times up and coming fighters showing promise. They aren’t the best and we all know it. No, I’m referring to an event where fans can watch quality fights and fighters on TV without having to shell out money on PPV. This is an opportunity for boxing to reconnect with it’s fans and gain new ones. I’m not a huge MMA fan but, I watched the UFC on Fox 2 fights and really enjoyed it. Last night Lyoto Machida had a stunning knock out victory that earned him a title shot and rematch against Jon “Bones” Jones (we’ll talk more about that later) and I didn’t have to pay a dime for it. Why can’t it be the same for boxing?
The fact of the matter is this boxing is a dinosaur. It’s not dead but if it doesn’t evolve soon it will be. It has been in a very clear decline for at least a decade, maybe more. The sport is broken on nearly every level. Every year there’s a scandal with some nonsense that tarnishes the reputation of the sport some more. Look no further the Timothy Bradley’s “victory” over Manny Pacquiao to see this. Anybody with a pair of eyes could see that Pacquiao was winning that fight. He was more productive throwing and landing more punches than Bradley, and he was more dominant landing more power punches and making Bradley wobble at least 3 times. Even Bradley thought he lost the fight. Inexplicably the judges awarded the fight to Bradley. If this doesn’t change boxing will die.
The judges may be either stupid or corrupt. I have no proof and there is no way to really tell. However, we have know for years how corrupt boxing promoters can be. They don’t care about the fans, they barely care about the fighters but, they care about money. That’s why it’s okay for them if fighters get screwed. Pacquiao will get his rematch with Bradley and while both fighters will make quite a bit of money it stands to reason that Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who promotes both fighters, stands to make the most money in this whole affair. Promoters are crooks and chief among them is Bob Arum. If Arum appealed to get the decision overturned it may have happened, Pacquiao and Bradley are both his fighters after all. Bob Arum wants to get paid so he never will.
Not only are promoters corrupt but the whole system of boxing doesn’t make any sense. As James Steadman points out here, there are too many weight classes but, there are also way too many belts. This causes the fans to feel like there is never a true champion. This lack of organization polarizes fans and turns away new fans. Another reason why having no singular body govern boxing is that there is no real attempt being made to grow the sport. All of these organizations rely and the die-hard fan while making no attempt to add more fans.
This disorganization hurts the sport on it’s most basic level. The fighters themselves. The boxers of today are not as good as they used to be. I’m not an old fogey grumbling for kids to get off of his lawn while brandishing a shotgun, I’m 22 years old for goodness sake. The truth is still the truth. You could make a case for Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, and the Klitschko brothers. That’s it. Four fighters in the whole world are even truly worth mentioning and the casual fan knows them and nobody else, if even that. If there was more organization money could be put into amateur fighting. Growing the future of the sport. Especially in America. The sport was at it’s best when there were prominent American fighters. Where will they come from if they’re not trained?
There is no doubt that boxing is busted, broken in nearly aspect. There is a way to fix it though, one fail-proof solution that could change everything. Come back Wednesday when we’ll talk about how to save boxing.