MMA bouts are taking boxing's audience.
History has taught us that it's tough—almost impossible—for a nation to fight a war on two fronts.
But when that same nation is also fighting a civil war at the same time as its two-front battle, demise is certain.
That's basically the state of boxing right now.
On one front, boxing has to contend with the up-and-coming sport of Mixed Martial Arts. It's not like MMA fighting is trying to establish itself either. No, that sport has done an excellent job of capturing its spot with the ticket-buying and pay-per-view purchasing public.
On the other front is boxing's image.
It's not really the media that is working against boxing; it's the public perception of the "Sweet Science" that is not always so sweet. Just a little over two months ago, Manny Pacquiao punished a decent fighter named Tim Bradley for 10 rounds. The game Bradley pushed himself hard and might have won two rounds.
Since Pacquiao could not put Bradley down—let alone keep him down—the fight went to the judge's scorecards. One judge, Jerry Roth, gave Pacquiao the fight by a 115-113 margin. The other two judges, C.J. Ross and Duane Ford, scored the fight by the same margin in Bradley's favor (per Los Angeles Times). All the decisions were inexplicable—the two in favor of Bradley defied logic.
What is boxing's biggest problem?
It seemed there was no way Bradley won the fight, but the decision gave him the shocking victory.
If trying to hold its share of the audience against MMA was enough of a challenge, defending the honesty of the sport is another brutal battle.
But when the sport also has to contend with the infighting of two of its top promoters, it's clearly a war that the sport can't win.
The civil war between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions is ruining the sport. Instead of working with each other to put the best fights on that the public can appreciate, each organization is trying to suck the life out of each other.
Here's an example: Top Rank will feature a bout between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Sergio Martinez Sept. 15 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas; that same night, Golden Boy will feature a bout between Canelo Alvarez and Jonesito Lopez at the MGM Grand Garden.
They're two great bouts that should draw great crowds and do excellent pay-per-view business.
Instead, the two boxing promoters are battling each other, dividing the audience and ruining the pre-fight publicity.
Both Top Rank and Golden Boy want the date, and each feels it has a legitimate claim to the date. But with neither side giving in, both sides lose.
It's clear that boxing needs a lot of help in order to survive. But the first thing it needs is a commissioner to handle disputes like the one between Top Rank and Golden Boy, a commissioner to clarify judging rules and to help the sport prosper and grow.
Boxing has never had a commissioner; it is run by individual state organizations.
That way of doing business has never worked for the sport, and it's never going to work.
Hiring a commissioner to run the sport on a national basis is the only way for boxing to have a chance.
Even then, it would be a very difficult road to negotiate, but it's the only thing that would allow the sport to survive.