They say the art of pugilism’s popularity is down, and young sports fans have lost interest in our sport because they prefer other sports and MMA where the best do compete against the best. Sports watchers are tired of the best ducking the best, and the total void of championship fights on free network TV, the lack of undisputed champions and so many confusing paper titles, etc.
Once upon a time decades ago everybody knew who the world heavyweight champ was. Everyone knew who the man was who wore the richest, most prestigious title in all of sport. But what about today? Do they know today? I decided to ask 13 random sports fans at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York, this simple question: Do you know who is the world heavyweight champion in pro boxing right now?
Here are the results…
Ruben from The Netherlands: “No I don’t actually.”
Chris Hu from New Jersey: “No.”
Tom Tvedt from New York: “No.”
Rich Humphries from Santa Monica: “Right now, no. I’m sorry, I should though. I forgot.”
Lawrence Shuler from New Jersey: “Klitschkos, are they still around?”
Imad from New York: “No idea. Because it’s on pay-per-view. Boxing is for exclusive people, you have to be hardcore. Tennis is more available. Boxing doesn’t have eccentric personalities so it doesn’t get the attention.”
Jerome from Paris, France: “Muhammad Ali?”
Tamiris from Brazil: “No. Who is it? (The Klitschko brothers.) I don’t even know who they are.”
Barry from Russia: “I don’t know, I’m sorry. I’m not into it. Is it Lennox Lewis? (No, it’s the Klitschko brothers.) Oh, right.”
Blake Strode, pro tennis player: “No. Who?”
Mark Moraleda from New York: “Klitschko, Wladimir. It’s lost it’s luster, there’s no big names, Tyson was the last one. But Pacquiao is big.”
Jose Pinales from Jersey City, NJ: “You got me on that one.”
Eric Scharff from New York: “I would say it’s that Russian guy, the two brothers. How could I forget the name. Vitali and his brother. (Right, good job.) MMA has gone up, boxing has gone down. But if you have a top boxing match, it still generates more money than a big MMA fight. Boxing still has it but not for long.”
Official results: Only two out of 13 fans at the U.S. Open could identify who is the world’s heavyweight champion today.
(Note: We will continue this series at a New York Yankees MLB game and New York Giants NFL game later this autumn.)