Boxing has been a relevant sport in the United States for quite some time. Like all combat sports in the modern era, it has struggled for widespread acceptance, although men of every class have followed it obsessively since the years of Reconstruction following the Civil War.
In fact the first sports celebrity in American history was John L. Sullivan, who was the heavyweight champion of the world in the 1880s. At the time when America started to build skyscrapers out of the newly cheap steel, John L. Sullivan was the most popular man in America during the Gilded Age.
The 1892 contest between Sullivan and James J. Corbett was the first modern boxing match as it featured padded gloves, media exposure on a grand scale and the new Marquis of Queensbury rule system that is still in use today. Boxing has had 120 years to grow, develop and expose itself to the American citizen. MMA has had less than 17.
However, since 2005 the sport of mixed martial arts and the UFC in particular has surged to the forefront of the world sports scene. Boxing has been taken over by Mexican and Russian boxers, suffers from prima donna athletes who display offputting antics and is run by men who seem more interested in their account balances than their fans. MMA is gritty, has an underground feel, its athletes are blue collar individuals we can relate to and it is just fun, plain and simple.
In the 21st century the UFC and the sport of boxing will be locked in a struggle that in which neither will disappear but one will grow to new heights. But, which sport will that be? It very easily could be the young sport of mixed martial arts. The UFC already draws far more consistent numbers in pay-per-view sales than boxing.
Recently the UFC has become a marketing machine as well. In this slideshow the reasons MMA will prevail are explained.