Is boxing dead?

Ok, so this post isn’t about health or nutrition unless it inspires you to all of a sudden become a boxer, but as the blogger, I do reserve the right to write what’s on my mind.  After all, I do have a category titled ‘Random Thoughts and Opinions’.

So why am I writing about boxing?  Well, the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight had a huge influence on that.  And I do use the term ‘fight’ loosely!

The anticipation before the fight was like nothing I had ever seen.  Mind you, I have been a casual fan of boxing since the late 1960’s.  I still remember those great Ali-Frazier fights where my dad and I sat close to the radio listening to the delayed broadcast of each round as described by AP newswires.

I also remember some of the boxing greats of the 70’s and 80’s.  I already mentioned Ali and Frazier but you also had Foreman, Lyle, Norton, Duran, Hagler (my all-time favorite) and Hearns.

What did all these fighters have in common?  They took no prisoners.  When you watched their fights, you would see just that, a fight!  This was the pinnacle of boxing.  Ever since then it has been a declining sport.

How can that be?

Some people will argue that by saying, how can boxing be declining when we just saw the biggest PPV windfall in boxing or any other event history?  Well I think there are several reasons for this:

  1. This fight has been in the works, on and off for almost six years so anticipation was building just like a pressure cooker.
  2. Pacquiao is loved across the world due to his character and his aggressive fighting style.  Even the twitter feeds prior to the fight had Pacquiao fans saying he was going to win by a 2 to 1 margin!
  3. Mayweather is not well liked due to his past troubles involving domestic violence and outright arrogance.  People wanted to see his head knocked off in a fight.
  4. Mayweather is undefeated going into the fight, 47-0, and reaching hallowed ground retiring as an undefeated champion a al Marciano at 49-0.

All those conditions created the perfect storm via boxing revenue.  It should not be used as an indicator that boxing has all of a sudden had a revival!

The fight itself…

Pacquiao has always been known to be very aggressive in the ring. Attack, attack, attack, throwing all kinds of punches at an opponent. Do or die.

Mayweather, on the other hand, has always been known to be the perfect technical defense fighter.  He can’t be hit and he is brilliant with his counter-punches as well as his high degree of accuracy.

So, putting Pacquiao’s claim of shoulder injury after the fight aside, what we saw for 12 rounds was Pacquiao chasing Mayweather throwing punches that missed almost every time and Mayweather ducking his punches and throwing high precision punches that connected right back.

Not taking away any of Mayweathers technical brilliance, this makes for one very dull fight.  At times I didn’t know if I was watching boxing or Dancing with the Stars.

Which brings me back to why boxing is dying…

As in any sport, you have fanatics and you have casual to interested fans. Casual to interested fans are what usually makes up most ticket sales as well as interest in a sport to generate revenue.

So the fanatics were saying after the fight that Mayweather was amazing because he fought a perfect fight.  The rest, and majority of the ‘other type of fans’ was saying this was absolutely boring.

The funny thing is, they are both right but also explaining the reason why boxing is dying!

Let me digress for a moment…

In order to make my point, I will side track for a minute and talk about other sports in comparison.

Todays public likes fast paced action.  Instantaneous results.  Immediate response.  You see this in the type of video games that are popular.  In social media via apps such as Vine and Instagram.

You also see it in the major sports such as the NFL and NBA.   Fans like to see offense, not defense.  The NFL has adjusted their sport to accommodate what the fans want to see over the years by adding time clocks between plays, adding rules that favor the offense over the defense, bringing in the 2 point conversion, and on and on.  Everyone wants to see a 49-45 shootout, no one wants to see a 7-3 game.

The same is true in the NBA.  In the old days there was no shot clock.  A team could just hold on to the ball forever before they took a shot.  There was no dunking allowed, no three point line.  It has now evolved to favor lots of offense over defense by adding all that was not allowed in the past.

Both of these sports have been growing in popularity and have overtaken what used to be America’s pastime, baseball.

MLB is entrenched with history and not changing the integrity of the game.  As such, the games last forever (over three hours on average), and there isn’t much scoring.  It is a game of strategy.  The only time MLB started a mini-renaissance was during the PED period where all of a sudden you had anyone and everyone hitting home runs which equates to offense. MLB is losing the average fans.  The fanatics are still around, they always will be, but the bulk of the fans are going to view and spend money on other ‘more exciting’ sports.

MLB can definitely change some rules to tweak the sport to become higher scoring but that is sacrilegious.

Back to boxing…

Which takes me back to boxing and why it is dying.  If, or as, more boxers start to become defensive tacticians, the sport starts becoming more and more boring.  Read that to mean, with more defense than offense, the average fan will go watch other sports that provide more action or offense.

Enter MMA, UFC…

The proof of all this is MMA and UFC fighting that is growing every year in popularity.  Especially amongst the millennials.  The rules are made to promote offense just like the NFL and NBA has done.  Fewer rounds but they last longer than three minutes.  This promotes offense.

Even a defensive tactician will have to eventually fight and fight hard when they are taken to the ground.  Or if the defensive fighter takes someone to the ground, rest assured their opponent will try all they can to fight their way out of it.

So other than this Mayweather-Pacquiao being a fluke in terms of revenue, if boxing doesn’t do something to promote more offense, it too, will face a slow death.

They can do many things to bring more offense to the event such as shorter bouts, size of the ring, penalize someone that back peddles for most of the round, etc, etc.  If the other sports can do it, why can’t boxing? Especially when you have the MMA and UFC breathing down their necks capturing the same fan base.

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