By Leo C.
Boxing is regarded as the world’s hardest sport. The sheer skill, confidence, speed, and strength involved in it alone make it sound exciting. However, in recent years, boxing has mostly faded from the public spotlight. Long gone are the days of Muhammad Ali and headlines, and attendance records are at an all time low. It is safe to say, boxing is a dying sport. However, there was hope. The sport’s “Fight of the Century”, between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, thanks to extremely successful marketing and years of planning, generated enough hype to get boxing back to relevancy and into the minds of the public.
However, in this aspect, the fight failed miserably. Yes, viewers did get a boxing match, but only a boxing match. The event had been hyped up to be the boxing event of the century. Viewers were expecting something big, explosive, something to remember and be proud they could say they had seen it in live action. However, instead, they received a bit more than half an hour of two half naked men hugging each other, save for a bit of world class backwards walking by Floyd Mayweather. The lesson here is, if a title fight between this generation’s top boxers cannot impress or much less, entertain, than clearly this dying sport is declining for reasons other than relevancy, some of which were displayed in this fight.
One problem that plagues boxing is the general inactivity of the sport. Although the average boxing round realistically never lasts past 50 minutes, boxers only fight a few times a year. Rookies will fight around 6-12 in order to build hype and promotion around them, while world-class and champion fighters will usually fight one or two fights per year. Due to the high physical damage and demand boxing has, this is somewhat understandable, but it is all too easy for high ranking boxers to sit back and avoid having to actively contest their titles. The extreme inactivity of boxers also means that there is a shortage of high-class fights available for watching. When people watch professional sports, they want to watch the world’s best compete. Apart from the few championship and title matches once every few months, there is nothing really going on in the boxing world for the majority of the year.
One of the major reasons for the long waits is caused by the structure, or sometimes lack of it, in boxing. Unlike many other sports, there is no “season” for boxing. Fights are entirely arranged by the fighters and their camps. This lack of organization and structure is a growing plague on boxing. There is no set world organization or regulators for boxing, because there are several already existing organizations all prying for influence and most importantly, cash. Without a worldwide body of authority over the sport, boxing cannot progress. Because boxing relies so much on private promotion agencies and partners, arranging matches become a complex and extremely lengthy process. This on top of the natural inactivity of boxing ensures that boxing matches remain rare. To give an example, the fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather took five years to plan and set up.
Another problem with boxing is the viewership model. Like most fighting sports, Boxing uses a pay-per-view model. But it is time to go for this outdated system. Paying 100 dollars in order to watch a less than a hour long event is not very appealing to the average person and is pushing potential viewers away from the sport. Boxing needs to free itself from the grip of greedy promoters and branch itself out to more of the average population.
Boxing is indeed a sport that has potential. It’s violent, fast paced, and strategic. Yet, because of internal conflictions the sport struggles to stay afloat. It lacks personalities, organization, and energy. There was a time in the past when, believe it or not, boxing was a mainstream and a major sport in North America, and there is no reason to believe that if the sport can turn itself around, it won’t be again.