Boxing is corrupt. This is news to no one. It’s a dying sport on it’s last leg because it has betrayed the trust of it’s fans over and over again. Boxing fans are the most patient people in the world. They continue to put money up for a product that fails them time and again. On Sunday we answered the question of whether or not boxing was still alive and if it was worth saving.
It’s a touchy subject because the truly die-hard boxing fan really believes the sport can turn around. Many of them, like myself, have come to appreciate mixed-martial arts and UFC for what it offers that boxing cannot. I’m not talking about the product in the ring or octagon. I’m a boxing guy. Always have been, always will be but, boxing fan needs to admit the UFC does many things as far as enhancing the product so that even the casual fan might come around to enjoy it in a way that boxing simply does not. This doesn’t have to be the case. Boxing can be saved. Here’s how:
Get Rid of Promoters
The real stars of boxing are it’s fighters. Leeching off of their success are promoters. The two biggest culprits being Top Rank and Golden Boy promotions. The sport is no longer about the best fights, it’s about how much money promoters can make. This is bad for fight fans and the fighters themselves, who want to put on a good show and prove they’re the best. This system is broken and as long as the old men lining their pockets are allowed to keep control the sport will suffer. I guarantee you that we won’t see Pacquiao vs. Mayweather until these two guys are old and it won’t matter anymore because they’ll be well past their primes.
Start A League
Boxing is currently disorganized. This is the biggest disadvantage it has to the world of MMA. The UFC is king. The best fighter in the world at any given weight division is the one who has the belt. Instead of having a million different boxing federations. Unify the belts under one league. That’s right, all of them. The WBA, WBC, IBF, and the WBO. All of them.
Another advantage of having a league is that the best fighters will always fight. Gone would be the scenarios where a fighter for Golden Boy won’t fight a Top Rank fighter because of whatever silly dispute they happen to be having at the time. No more guys ducking fights to maintain perfect records or winning streaks. The league would decide who would fight and they would fill out the whole card. If a fighter tried to duck a fight he would lose his place in the league similar to what is done by Dana White in the UFC.
Fund Amateur Fighting
Push for boxing to be more prominent in high schools and colleges. This is important. Many UFC stars like Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen started their careers in wrestling which is already prominent in high school and colleges. Developing exciting fighters will pay dividends. Boxing is at it’s best as far as attracting casual fans when Americans are relevant. Building the program up is important.
Equally as important is a place for amateurs to fight when they become pro. There are two options here. The first is a minor league of sorts. A lower level owned by the league to groom future talent in a similar fashion to major league baseball. The second option is to allow smaller leagues to feed into the bigger one like Strikeforce did for the UFC before the UFC bought it. This option though, requires having a monopoly on the market, which is extremely hard to do for obvious reasons.
Remember The Fans
As I’ve mentioned before boxing fans are extremely loyal. Lately, all they’ve taken is a lot of abuse from the sport that they love. That’s not fair. Once things get organized keeping the fans in mind is a top priority. Have boxing events for the fans. Once again I reference the UFC. They have fan expos that give fans the opportunity to meet fighters and get autographs and pictures. It let’s fans get up close and personal with the people whose strength and skills they admire. Failure to appreciate the fans in the UFC could lead to a possible ban. That might be too much but it stresses a point. The people who pay for the product should be part of what they are helping to build.
Give The Fans Quality Fights For “Free”
Obviously nothing on TV is free. It’s a business advertisers pay for space and you the viewer watch commercials to make that investment worthwhile. When I see free I mean that the fans, both casual and die-hard, don’t have to pay out of pocket for every fight. Give them a fight on a major network or, at the very least a cable network. Having to cough up PPV money for fights that don’t always pan out doesn’t sit well with most fans, as you can well imagine. Sometimes we’re force fed stars that don’t make it and forced to pay to watch a fight of a guy that might make it.
ESPN Friday Night Fights are simply not good enough. It’s inexpensive to watch but, the fighters are unknowns to a lot of casual fans. Giving a little quality away for “free” helps to grow the fan base. It draws in casual fans and makes the die-hards happy.
These are the things that will change boxing, and save it. There’s no doubt that a broken system will die. The beautiful thing is if the system changes, and I believe it will out of necessity, boxing can continue to survive and even flourish. However boxing fans have to stop feeding the system. One thing that fight fans can do to change this is to stop wishing for a mystical superfight that will change everything. Stop wishing for Pacquiao and Mayweather.
Come back Friday and I’ll explain why.