Friday, September 4, 2009

The State Of Boxing

Is the sport of boxing being 'swallowed' by MMA like UFC announcer, Joe Rogan argued in an ESPN debate with boxing promoter, Lou DiBella? Well, yes, in a way boxing IS being marginalized.

For years the sport of boxing was the ONE combat sport - mainstream combat sport - which the public turned to to relieve their day to day frustrations, and to get entertainment. Two guys fist fighting is universal; it transcends religion, race and language. Two guys fist fighting is a language in itself.

From the early 1900's, all the way up to Ali's time, boxing was the most popular sport in America, besides baseball. Then other sports, such as football started to gain in popularity and overtake baseball and boxing as America's favorite sport. But boxing never had a competitor. Baseball is totally different than boxing. It co-existed for years beside baseball as America's beloved fighting sport. And while football is a physical and oftentimes violent sport, it has no parallel with boxing. For years, boxing was the ONE true combat sport.

Boxing never had a competitor until the sport of MMA was created. It's a combat sport just like boxing is, but the difference is, MMA allows not only boxing, but other martial arts and wrestling. Today, MMA is seen as the pure combat sport, while boxing is seen as a limited form of fighting. And make no mistake about it, that is true; boxing IS a limited form of fighting compared to MMA. But, to me, boxing is more aesthetically pleasing to watch. Sadly the mainstream doesn't think so. Boxing today is very much a niche sport.

Can we blame MMA for the lack of interest in boxing today in America and in other parts of the world? Absolutely not! If you remember, boxing has been struggling since the late 1980's. Apart from Tyson, boxing wasn't seeing the success and popularity is seen in the 70's and earlier. The 90's were the same way. Oscar De La Hoya, Mike Tyson and a couple of other mainstream boxing stars were the exception, but beyond them, the state of boxing was hurting. It's been that way ever since! Boxing has been a niche sport for a very long time. We cannot blame MMA. We need to blame the greedy promoters and the way the sport is managed today.

The reality of the situation is this; MMA will always be more popular from here on out. In reality, boxing had to evolve, and it evolved into MMA. It was only a matter of time until someone took all the combat styles and mixed them into one sport. Boxing fans need to except that. But that doesn't mean boxing cannot co-exist with the sport of MMA! If anything, the boxing promoters should be learning from the UFC.

We probably have more talent today in boxing than in anytime in history. But it's the marketability that hurts the sport; no personalities, no big time stars, no advertising dollars from big companies so the sport can be broad casted on CBS, NBC or ABC - which means the sport will always have less exposure, etc.

The sport of boxing can grow! It will never be bigger than MMA, because of simple evolution, but it can learn from the UFC on how to conduct business and how to gain interest once again.

There needs to be more oversight in boxing. Bad decisions are hurting the sport. These alphabet soup organizations need to be a thing of the past; it causes too much politics and restricts the biggest fights from happening. Each weight division should have ONE champion! Less confusion is always a good thing. And these damn promoters. These greedy promoters have been sucking the blood from boxing for years. It starts and ends with the promoters!

Until some of the aforementioned points are addressed, the state of boxing will not change from where it stands now.

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