Boxing is stuck in the 20th century.
And I mean firmly stuck. You only have to see the meteoric rise of MMA to realize that the sweet science can’t, won’t, and actively refuses to keep up. And boxing has such history, art, legends, grit, beauty, strength, and such heart it’s a shame to see it go down this way.
One of my co-workers, a tremendous boxing fan who grew up in New York watching all the greats, boycotted the Floyd Mayweather – Juan Marquez fight this past weekend, and I think it’s breaking his heart. It infuriated him that Mayweather wouldn’t take the real fight against Manny Pacquiao, that Mayweather talks big but hides behind opponents he knows he can beat.
Yes, Marquez brings great game, even at several categories above his best fighting weight. And he’ll appreciate the extra $600k that he added to his purse because Mayweather, who was guaranteed 10 million, came in over weight (another deeply disrespectful move on Mayweather’s part). But c’mon: Mayweather landed more jabs in each round than Marquez did in total punches; the final numbers coming in at 290-69 in total punches landed, and 105-48 in power punches that connected. Mayweather dominated the entire fight — that doesn’t prove he’s free of ring rust despite a 21 month “retirement,” as so many fans proudly trumpeted, it just proves he trained well and made sure his opponent was smaller, older, and less powerful. Bah.
Easy-to-call fights like this are one part of the reason boxing is lagging desperately behind UFC’s rising star. But it’s also true that most boxing events are poorly advertised and marketed, there’s no clear top sanctioning body, and there seems to be less fighting and more talking about fighting, or avoiding fighting, or as a friend of mine said, hugging when they should be fighting. That last one made me erupt in laughter, and I pointed out the lengthy and barely intelligible — to me — ground game in MMA. Now that’s some serious hugging.
But the point holds. People want to see fights. We want to see the close match-ups, we want to see action, and we want to know about it ahead of time (hello, marketing department?) so that we can plan to be there or at least be somewhere we can catch the action.
Boxing has so much to offer. Longer fights, greater legends, more history, and a powerful grace that you just don’t see in MMA. It’s going to be too bad if it dwindles away in the shadow of the cage.
Image from Free Sport Wallpapers