By: Hans Themistode
For a while now, boxing has been considered a sport on the outside looking in. A minor league player if you will.
Baseball, basketball and football are at the forefront of most sports fans minds. Most viewers of those aforementioned sports can identify the biggest names associated with them in a blink of an eye.
Who won the NBA championship last season? Fans would quickly jump up to say the Toronto Raptors. Who is considered the best baseball player in the game right now? Most would say Mike Trout. Who is believed to be the greatest NFL quarterback of all-time? Tom Brady would most likely be the answer.
The point is, in terms of these various sports, fans know exactly who they are and wouldn’t hesitate in terms of a trivia question.
Yet, in the case of boxing, things just don’t seem to go that way. When posed with a boxing question, most fans would have a hard time answering it. In short, boxing has seemingly taken a backseat to its more well known rivals.
It hasn’t always been like this. Knowing who the Heavyweight champion of the world or any other notable boxer was, regardless of his championship status was always thought to be an easy question to answer. Not anymore.
Other sports leagues around the world have seemingly passed boxing by.
But things are about to change.
This Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Nevada, WBC Heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder and Lineal champion Tyson Fury will bring boxing back to the forefront. Not just in America, but around the world.
“People are talking about this fight all over the country,” said promoter Bob Arum. “And one of the big topics is how ESPN and FOX are promoting it. … Nobody’s ever seen anything like it. I mean, I’ve been around since the first Super Bowl. There’s never been a commercial for a boxing match in any Super Bowl – ever.”
Simply put, you can’t turn on your television set, nor browse the internet without some sort of ad promoting what many believe, is the biggest Heavyweight championship fight in the last 50 years.
So why exactly is the buzz surrounding this fight so enormous? That’s easy.
Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) has the sort of power that you just can’t teach. Whatever he touches, seems to break into a pile of dust. Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) on the other hand, possesses some of the very best boxing skills that the division has ever seen. Another enticing storyline is what happened the first time these two met.
It was December 1st, 2018, in front of a packed crowd at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California where Wilder and Fury met for the first time. Fury boxed circles around Wilder for much of the contest and was on his way to a clear decision. Yet, out of nowhere, Wilder landed his best shots of the night and dropped Fury in the final round. Still, even as the fight seemed to be over, Fury managed to make it back to his feet.
What resulted was a highly disputed draw. Now with them doing it again and with the backing of both ESPN and FOX, promoter Bob Arum is expecting the rematch to be one of the highest selling pay-per-views of all-time.
“I really believed when I found out early on, before we even had an announcement, how FOX and ESPN were gonna do this, that’s why I predicted two million,” Arum explained. “Now to predict two million, if this was back in the old HBO and Showtime days, that would’ve been crazy. But because of those two networks, I always thought we had a shot to equal or exceed two million buys. And I’m now, more than ever, confident.”
Only four times in boxing history has an event exceeded that many buys. And each time they had one thing, or one person, in common.
2007: Floyd Mayweather vs Oscar De La Hoya (2.4 Million)
2013: Floyd Mayweather vs Canelo Alvarez (2.2 Million)
2015: Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao (4.6 Million)
2017: Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor (4.3 Million)
No, Floyd Mayweather won’t be making an appearance on this card. But he is likely to be in attendance to watch. Nevertheless with the sort of attention and promotion that this event has gotten, Arum could very well be right about his initial assumption.
“Am I anxious about how it’s gonna do? Of course. I’m a businessperson. But I’m saying all the groundwork has been so great, thanks to these two networks and the example that they showed.”
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