By: Sean Crose
Anyone paying attention to the Olympic Boxing scandal now rocking the sport’s world can tell that the sport of amateur boxing is in trouble – and has been for a long time. Yet there are those who are quite unhappy with professional boxing, as well. Fight cancellations, Twitter feuds, new breed fans who care only about things like A-side/B-side revenue splits, cable-level fights appearing on pay per view…frankly, there’s plenty to be upset about – and let’s not even get started on poor judging and the preferential treatment some organizations give certain fighters. While last weekend’s Oleksandr Usyk – Anthony Joshua heavyweight title bout showed us that the sport is in many ways alive and well, there are still serious matters for concern among boxing fans.
“For example,” says professional boxer Sonya Lamonakis, who is also a major amateur event organizer, “you have a lot of boxers who should not be turning pro but go down to North Carolina, South Carolina and Mexico and they buy fights with a stand in just to build a record and get a false hope of being a successful boxer.” This isn’t only a poor business strategy – it’s dangerous. “After they have a decent record,” Lamonakis continues, “they take a real boxing match and they get beat up or knocked out.”
Lamonakis is also concerned about the novelty boxing business. What started off seeming harmless and fun when Mike Tyson returned to exhibition Roy Jones last year turned ugly last month when a way over the hill Evander Holyfield got stopped in the first round by former UFC notable Vitor Belfort in a bout the 58 year old Holyfield accepted two weeks beforehand. “Boxing (is) being made a mockery of,” she says, “with these YouTubers and celebrity boxing entities selling boxing fights that aren’t really fights.” Without doubt, any serious boxing fan can’t not be at least a bit concerned about the current popularity of novelty events.
Yet novelty bouts and padded records aren’t the only thing Lamonakis is troubled by in the contemporary pro boxing scene. “At the top of the real sport,” she says, “you have all the boxers in the top five that avoid each other because of purses and politics…I feel like all this kind of nonsense didn’t exist years ago. It’s come about in the last 10 years and I’m not so sure it’s good for the sport of boxing.” While it’s true that no one can rightfully say boxing is dead, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest it’s not entirely healthy at the moment, either.
And that’s not a good thing.
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