5 Reasons Why Boxing Ain't Dead Yet
Any time there's a controversial fight, or a big matchup doesn't come through, the "boxing is dead" tagline is inevitably going to be discussed ad nauseum by sports fans everywhere.
Critics of the sport say that it lacks the popularity it once had because the best don't always fight the best, it's not on network TV, there's no money or it's not fairly distributed, and the list goes on and on.
However, when closely examined, virtually every criticism of boxing can be rebutted. Boxing is still a very popular sport and will continue to thrive all over the world.
While it's not as popular as it once was in the U.S., boxing is as big as ever overseas. If the sport of boxing can make some adjustments, it could really start to build it's fanbase back up.
Boxing may at times have its back against the ropes, but it ain't dead yet. Here's why.
1. Boxing Is Huge on the International Stage
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While the popularity of boxing has declined in the United States over the past 15 or so years, in Europe, Asia, Australia, and Central/South America, boxing is still a huge sport and draws big-time ratings.
For example, when Saul Alvarez or Julio Cesar Chavez fight in Mexico, Super Bowl-type ratings are drawn on television there.
When Manny Pacquiao fights, the Philippines essentially shuts down to watch. The Klitschko's routinely sell out 50,000-seat soccer stadiums all over Europe. Anytime there's a big fight in the UK, an arena will sell out an a raucous crowd is sure to be on hand.
Australians are wild about the sport and show up in huge numbers for big fights. Lucian Bute draws 15,000+, no matter who he fights in Canada.
I could throw out numbers all day, but the fact is that most Americans don't realize how popular boxing is on the international scene.
If boxing in the U.S. could retain even half of the popularity the sport enjoys elsewhere in the world, the sport would be so much better off that I can't even quantify it.
The bottom line is that boxing needs a great American Heavyweight in order to once again thrive stateside. Until then, the sport will continue to struggle.
2. There's Still Tons of Money in the Sport
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One of the major signs that a sport isn't popular is if there isn't a lot of money in playing that sport, even at the highest level.
Well, for those who say boxing is dying, or isn't popular and that no one watches, let us examine who the two highest paid athletes over the past year were. You guessed it, they were both boxers. Numbers 1 and 2 on the Forbes list are Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, respectively.
So, even if you are the absolute harshest critic of boxing in the entire world, how can you possibly say that boxing is dead when in the category of people who play sports for a living, the top two earners are both fighters?
It defies logic to say this sport is dead. Yes, not everyone makes that type of money in boxing, but there's still a lot of cash to be made.
European fighters like Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, as well as David Haye, Carl Froch and Amir Khan make huge purses every fight. Hispanic fighters like Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez, and Juan Manuel Marquez, as well as many more fighters all over the world, all command huge paydays when they step into the ring.
If fighters are consistently making millions, the sport certainly isn't dead yet.
3. There Are Young Fighters Set to Break Through to Superstardom
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One obvious factor that needs to be considered when examining the future of the sport is who will take over once Mayweather and Pacquiao, and other current boxing stars retire.
If there aren't young fighters who can effectively carry the torch once it's passed to them, then the sport will be in serious trouble and could fall into a state of disrepair.
Fortunately for boxing, there are a plethora of young fighters across various weight divisions who could potentially be superstars in the near future.
You have guys like Saul Alvarez, who is already a star. Adrien Broner, the cocky, flashy, hair-brushing fighter, who is as entertaining outside the ring as he is inside it.
Seth Mitchell could be the next top American heavyweight. Abner Mares is around in the lower weight classes and should be in big fights very soon.
Amir Khan is already internationally known. Mikey Garcia, who at 24 shows the maturity of a seasoned veteran. Devon Alexander, Brandon Rios, Kell Brook, and the list goes on and on.
Simply put, there are a lot of young, highly talented fighters in the sport who will be around for quite some time, and will help carry the sport once the current top guys decide to hang 'em up.
4. It's Returning to Network Television
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For a long time, one of the common sentiments among boxing pundits to explain boxing's demise as America's most popular sport is its lack of visibility to the public.
If boxing were on ABC, NBC, or CBS like it was in the old days every weekend, then fighters would gain tons more exposure, and casual fans would become more familiar with the sport.
Fortunately, it appears boxing may be making a comeback to major network television. According to ESPN, NBC has recently signed a deal to have boxing on its main network, and will continue it's regular television coverage of boxing on the NBC Sports channel.
And Canelo Alvarez, one of the most popular young fighters in the world, could possibly fight on CBS in the fall.
It's a long way back for boxing to get to where it previously was in the United States, but with news that it's at least going to be on major network TV occasionally over the next couple of years, is certainly a giant first step in the right direction.
5. At Its Best, Boxing Is the Best Sport There Is
Anyone who saw saw Jose Luis Castillo against Diego Corrales on May 7, 2005, will never forget what they witnessed.
Unfortunately, I was only 13 years old at the time and didn't see the fight live, but I've watched the fight in its entirety too many times to count, and I still watch the video featured in this slide of Round 10 at least once every couple of months.
For those who haven't seen the fight, it was tantalizing to put it lightly. Corrales and Castillo traded bombs for nine rounds.
They fought the entire fight in close quarters and slugged it out with a ferocity that you seldom see. The heart and will that these two men showed on that night over seven years ago is unfathomable. It was truly amazing.
After nine rounds, Castillo floored Corrales hard in the 10th. Corrales got up, but was dropped again seconds later and appeared to be on the verge of being knocked out cold.
But Corrales came back to stop Castillo later in the round and win the fight in as dramatic a fashion as you will see in any athletic competition.
I guess what I'm trying to get across is that at its best, there's nothing like boxing. The thrill fighters provide when they lay it all on the line and take big risks, and aren't afraid to lose always makes for great television.
As long as boxing can continue to provide fights that are even in the stratosphere of Corrales-Castillo from time to time, the sport will be just fine.
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