The 5 Biggest Problems in Boxing
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The sport of boxing's demise has been predicted by the naysayers for quite some time now.
Too many problems, too few people willing to solve them and too few fans willing to continue supporting.
Like most anything else the truth of this situation lies somewhere in the middle. Yes, the sport has several problems that if solved could definitely help.
But no, it is not in imminent danger of disappearing from this earth.
Here we explore five of the most daunting problems boxing faces and how it can help to solve them going forward.
Too Many Belts and Champions
Remember the days when Roy Jones needed an entourage just to carry his belts to the ring?
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This has been said one thousand times before and will probably be said one thousand times again.
Boxing simply has too many championships and too many champions.
You have the four main sanctioning bodies—IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO—that each award a title in every weight class. That means usually no less than four fighters who can claim to be the best fighter at a given weight.
But that's not all. Several sanctioning bodies have developed second tier belts that they call regular champions—a distinction between their "super" champions who have held the belts for a lengthy period of time.
That creates a situation, such as exists in the heavyweight division and many others, where two fighters technically hold the same belt from the same sanctioning body.
Everyone knows that Wladimir Klitschko is the rightful WBA heavyweight champion but since he is a "super" champion the sanctioning body also recognizes Alexander Povetkin as champion.
It's a ludicrous system that is about nothing more than increasing the sanctioning fees that organization can collect and it hurts the sport.
It's time for many of these useless belts to go.
Bradley is a good fighter but he didn't win this fight.
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Bad decisions are nothing new, and not likely to go away anytime soon.
And that's bad business for boxing when it's seeking to draw in and retain fans to a sport whose seen its popularity ebb with the rise of other combat sports such as MMA.
There's nothing worse than investing time and money in a fight and having the outcome on the scorecards not reflect the action in the ring. It leads to accusations of rigging, corruption or blatant incompetence.
In just the past calendar year we've seen horrible decisions in the most high-profile bouts, Pacquiao vs. Bradley, and in several that were more off the radar but no less egregious such as Rios vs. Abril and Martinez vs. Burgos.
This is not to say that every close fight is a robbery. Many bouts are simply subjective and different people see or favor different things.
But when there's near unanimous opinion that the judges got it horribly wrong that's a problem and it's something that boxing needs to address through better training and an updated scoring system.
PPV Cards That Don't Provide Value
Promoters need to stop selling PPV's with just one good fight.
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Everyone is looking for the most bang for their buck and this is especially true during tough economic times.
The decision to shell out upwards of $60, sometimes more for high definition, is a tough one when you don't know what you'll get. You could end up with a night of tremendous action or you might get squat.
This problem is compounded by the fact that most of the sports big names, Mayweather and Pacquiao in particular, sell their pay-per-view largely on their own. The co-featured fights are too often not PPV worthy and draw in few fans.
So what ends up happening is the average fan is asked to dish out their money for one fight and that simply does nothing to grow the sport.
There was a time when boxing cards were loaded with talent and multiple big names and champions appeared on the same bill.
It's time boxing returned to this format in order to give fans a reason to spend their time and money.
Big Fights Not Happening
Donaire vs. Mares would've been a big event.
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We have seen thousands of articles discussing how and why the long discussed Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight never happened so let's not even get into that mud again.
A more recent, and perhaps today more relevant, example of a fight that has been demanded but derailed is a super bantamweight clash between Nonito Donaire and Abner Mares.
Both fighters hold titles, and both are considered to be the top two fighters in the weight class, but a bout has thus far eluded us.
Mares, frustrated by the lack of a bout, recently announced his plans to jump north to featherweight where he will also likely struggle to find many meaningful fights.
The problem? Donaire and Mares both work for different promotional outfits that refused to do business together.
So at least for now this is another great fight that boxing fans will not get to see.
Boxing Isn't in the Mainstream
Leo Santa Cruz is the perfect fighter to showcase on network TV.
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When you think about boxing these days you think about HBO, Showtime, PPV and maybe occasionally ESPN's Friday Night Fights.
You don't think the major TV networks such as NBC or CBS and that's something boxing has begun to address.
Golden Boy Promotions did a tremendous job on Dec. 16 when it decided to showcase bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz on CBS as a lead-in bout to its Showtime telecast of Amir Khan vs. Carlos Molina.
Santa Cruz has the style, an all-action punching machine, that makes for highly dramatic, exciting fights that's perfect for selling the sport to a mainstream audience.
It's something that boxing has failed at in recent years and a trend it seeks to reverse now. It's a great idea and a problem worth solving.