I can’t stand online debates between one-dimensional MMA fans and boxing fans. I love both sports and plead to the internet idiots of the world to learn to appreciate both of them. But in this post I’d like to focus on boxing, as its demise is being greatly exaggerated.
It’s depressing to think how, at one point, boxing was arguably the biggest sport in the world. If it hadn’t been for my dad and I watching boxing when I was growing up, I doubt I would have ever been a fan. It’s poorly marketed today, asides from Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao fights.
So, what’s changed since its heyday? There are no more stars left. No Ali’s or Frazier’s. No Hagler’s or Hearns’. No Leonard’s or Duran’s. No Mike Tyson.
All we have left are Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Will they ever fight? Let’s say they do. What’s next? That’s the problem that boxing faces. Mayweather/Pacquiao, in a lot of people’s eyes, will be boxing’s last big fight.
I have other ideas…
This is how you save boxing — you start with a commissioner. The reason that the UFC has taken off is primarily due to one man; Dana White, as polarizing as he is and as possibly debilitating (at times) to the sport of MMA that he’s been as the head of the UFC. His relentless marketing along with his tremendous business acumen have been the driving force behind his company’s surge. If boxing could find the one person with the right plan to get things cleaned up, a revival is possible.
Here’s where it gets good…
Next step. Throw away the belts. All 647 of them. Take ‘em all, throw ‘em in the trash and burn ‘em.
Earlier I said that boxing needs stars. How do you create stars? By holding tournaments in every weight class to determine new champions. Why is the NCAA basketball tournament so successful? Because there’s the potential to turn unknown kids and schools into household names. Just imagine if you had a 16-man tournament in each class that lasted over a one year period. With 17 different weight classes you could spread the fights out evenly over the year, where fighters have three months off in between. Three months is a little shorter than normal for fighters, but they could manage.
The best way to bring these new faces into your homes is — are you ready for this — put the damn fights on actual TV! Muhammad Ali used to fight on ABC, not pay-per-view. Now, I understand that you can’t have all the fights for free, but what about the first two rounds? Introduce these fighters to the American consciousness. Get us invested in their story and then make us want more. So much so that we’ll actually pay for it.
You can even broadcast the Final 4’s of the less glamorous weight classes on regular TV as well. Once the boxers and America are 9 months into the tournaments, we will be salivating for the big-time pay per views at the end of the year.
There’s hope for boxing. But hope doesn’t translate to anything pragmatically speaking.