Blueprint to Building the Ultimate Boxing Match
Building the perfect boxing match seems simple on the surface, but a closer inspection reveals several critical elements that must align in order for the match to take place.
Boxing promoters live and die with how well they recognize these elements as critical to their operation, as well as how astute they are at putting them all together on fight night. It’s what separates outfits like Top Rank, Golden Boy and Main Events from the rest of the pack.
No one element is more important than another. Instead, they must work together as a synergized conduit of fistic awesomeness.
Here they are alphabetically.
State boxing commissions, or other governmental bodies with a similar purpose that are recognized by the Association of Boxing Commissions, can often go overlooked. But these guys and gals play a vitally important role. If the commission isn’t helping to make a boxing match as good as it can be, it’s at least not ruining it with shenanigans.
And there have been plenty of shenanigans.
When Miguel Cotto stopped Antonio Margarito in their 2011 rematch at Madison Square Garden, his dominating win was put in question by the way the commission bungled the situation.
The New York State Athletic Commission made a mess of things by waiting until the last minute to question Margarito’s ability to fight in the state because of his surgically repaired eye. Because of the irresponsible bungling, the fight was in doubt until less than two weeks before fight night.
And that wasn’t the end of things. After licensing Margarito to fight, the commission assigned a ringside doctor charged solely with the task of observing Margarito’s eye.
Cotto was right to target the eye, and he did. But would the fight have been stopped had the NYSAC not brought in an additional doctor to stare at Margarito's eye for the entire fight?
It’s no coincidence that the highest-grossing pay-per-view boxing event in history, Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather, took place on May 5. And there’s absolutely no doubt similar considerations are driving the bickering between Golden Boy and Top Rank over Sept. 14.
Dates matter in boxing. To be more precise, two dates matter in boxing.
The Saturdays closest to Cinco de Mayo (May 5) and Mexican Independence Day (Sept. 15) are the Super Bowl Sundays of boxing. It’s why non-Mexican fighters like Floyd Mayweather come up with pithy phrases like “Cinco De Mayweather" and why the most popular boxers traditionally fight on one or both of these dates.
The biggest and best boxing events are even better on these days.
An old adage states that styles make fights. It’s true. Getting two great fighters in the ring together doesn’t necessarily mean anything special is going to happen. In fact, bad stylistic matchups can make what should be an entertaining affair downright dull.
Case in point: No one doubts the skill levels of Guillermo Rigondeaux and Nonito Donaire as fighters. They’re two of the best boxers in the sport. Yet plenty doubt how entertaining their 12-round battle turned out to be in April.
The ultimate boxing match needs great fighters who match up well with each other. Matching a boxer with a brawler usually works. And while we’re being picky, they should be rivals, natural or otherwise, too.
Mexico vs. Puerto Rico, anyone?
The more fight fans, the merrier. Boxing was meant for the big stage. And while the invention of high-definition televisions have brought us closer to events than ever before, there’s simply nothing like being part of a big crowd on fight night.
Historically speaking, boxing has always been a big draw. Heck, more than 80,000 souls crammed into the Polo Grounds to watch Jack Dempsey pummel Luis Angel Firpo in 1923. Well over 100,000 came out to see Dempsey get out-pointed by Gene Tunney twice, in 1926 and 1927.
The relatively small capacities of Las Vegas-based casinos as well as the demise of the sweet science as the premier American sport have changed that a bit. But there are still places to go where fight fans in the stands reign supreme.
Roaring and raucous crowds take things to the next level, and modern promoters are getting more and more savvy about it.
Other than the two men inside the ring, the promoters play the most important role in the sport of boxing. A good promoter can make an average fighter look good and a good fighter look great. In fact, that’s exactly his job: to promote.
Fans and media pundits like to bash the biggest and the best promoters. Entire boxing media outlets are almost solely devoted to this endeavor. But boxing doesn’t work without its promoters.
The three best promoters in the business are Bob Arum, Kathy Duva and Oscar De La Hoya. Each heads one of the top promotional outfits in the world and can take a mundane Saturday night and turn it into something magical.
Each has a particular strength. One of the most successful promoters in history, Arum has surrounded himself with the top matchmaking and public relations team in the business. Duva is committed to bringing fans the best matchups night in and night out, and De La Hoya focuses on providing as much exposure to his stable of stars as possible.
Any one of them is capable of pulling off the ultimate boxing match. It’s a shame they won’t work together to ensure it happens more often.
It’s not just the fight but the timing of when the fight happens during each fighter’s career. Can you imagine how big an event Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao would have been in 2010?
Both men, seemingly at their peak, would have met in probably the most important boxing event of the new century.
The fight could still happen, but it wouldn’t have the same edge. Pacquiao has diminished over the last year, which was made apparent when he went completely unconscious after Juan Manuel Marquez blasted him last December.
Timing is important to pulling off the ultimate boxing match. Two fighters who match up well, fighting in the right location, under the right commission, working with the right promoter, at the right time and on the right date...could it get any better than that?