Roundtable Discussion: Is Boxing Becoming Irrelevant?
I would like to start a discussion with some general sports fans. Is Boxing becoming irrelevant? Once upon a time Boxing was one of the big glamour sports in the US, with baseball and horse racing. This was decades ago in the Golden Age of Sport. Now times have changed and boxing is almost becoming irrelevant in the public eye and culture – after the fadeout of Iron Mike Tyson and the emergence of the enormous popularity of MMA and UFC. There are so few boxing superstars in the sport today and the best fights and best fighters are rarely on major network TV. We can see the legends like Ali, Leonard, Tyson, Duran just about every other week on ESPN Classic. Just wondering what some of you might think about boxing and if it really is on life support, ready to fade away – dare I say this – like roller hockey and TV bowling?
Henry: Of course it’s not irrelevant. Look at the ongoing Pacquiao/Mayweather saga.
There’s huge world wide interest in that potential fight. MMA is growing fast but look at the last huge fight they had. Shane Carwin earned $40,000 for fighting Brock Lesnar. A mid-ranked boxer wouldn’t get out of bed for a purse like that. It’s still small fry compared with boxing and I suspect the UFC’s model of business is unsustainable once the top fighters start wanting a much bigger slice of the cash. When you see that a “joke” fighter like Kimbo Slice drew the highest viewing figures in 2009, it’s obvious the sport has a long way to go to catch up with boxing. I agree that culturally boxing is on the decline but then so are a lot of big sports including tennis, NASCAR and golf. Boxing is generally regarded as a big joke organisationally but given the public interest in the big fights, you can’t call it irrelevant.
Scoop: Well said. but the Pacquiao-Floyd fight is not going to happen because Floyd is a chicken and would rather fight two or three easy fights for the same money. And the other big fight is at heavyweight but David Haye is afraid to get Koed by Wladimir Klitschko. And that’s two huge superfights that the fans are clamoring for but will not get. Boxing keeps failing to produce the big events, it may destroy itself. It could take ten years, if that, to build up another fight to be as big as these two fights would be. And it’s conceivable that boxing could never be able to build up fighters to be as popular (with the lack of free TV exposure) as Pac-Man and Floyd and Klitschko and Haye are now. People may get fed up and turn their collective backs on the sport and opt to look elsewhere for sporting entertainment.
Mr. 25: IMO it is irrelevent. Just two guys punching each other. Not as bad as wrestling though.
Henry: True, boxing is sowing the seeds of its own destruction but as a sport it just captures the public’s imagination too much for it to die completely. Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg are in a film about Micky Mard that’s out later this year. There’s also talk of one about Arturo Gatti. Hollywood wouldn’t pour big budgets into films about boxers if they didn’t think there was an interest in the sport that runs deeper than sports fans.
Sophocles: There is still a huge potential audience for boxing, which is after all the most dramatic as well as the most demanding of any sport. But it has done itself no favors with its hapless organization and pay-per-view greed.
Scoop: Absolutely true Henry, nothing ever can match the electricity of a major boxing match. It’s what all other sports aspire to be. Boxing is what all other athletes like Tiger Woods, Barkley, Shaq, LeBron, Jeter, Sampras, Agassi, could only dream about. I guess when the sport can’t create enough superfight dramas on it’s own, there is always Hollywood there, ready to create it’s own boxing tales. Films like Rocky, Gentleman Jim, Cinderella Man, When We Were Kings, Tyson, are often times better than many of the actual superfights we watch. But then again, nothing can surpass the drama of a real fight like Douglas-Tyson, Lewis-Klitschko, Hagler-Hearns, Leonard-Duran, Foreman-Lyle.