Boxing Missed Crucial Opportunity With Pacquiao-De La Hoya Fight

NCorrespondent IDecember 7, 2008

In the 1970's, a fight like Pacquiao-De La Hoya would have captivated the nation. This Saturday, the Alabama-Florida game was being compared to Ali-Frazier, while the real boxing match was left to flimsy updates in between college football analysis.

This fight could have been used as a vehicle to get boxing back in the forefront of American sports. It missed that opportunity.

Thirty years ago, a fight like this would have garnered a prime-time spot on a major network. Instead, it was accessible only on Pay-Per-View. For thirty dollars. During football season. With no guarantee that the fight would go one round, much less twelve.

When people are struggling to fill up their gas tanks and buy groceries, can the sports industry really expect people to pay to watch a fight? Yeah, the match-up was great. Yeah, the storylines were interesting. But casual sports fans weren't going to pay to watch a sport that they didn't know much about.

The boxing industry was obviously hoping this fight would make them some coin, but what they really should have been aiming for was getting casual sports fans into boxing. This fight, this weekend, was their prime opportunity. What else did sports fans have to watch?

Before you say football, consider this. The SEC championship game was over. The Big 12 game was a blow-out. The remaining football games were a couple of mediocre teams playing with minimal BCS implications. How easy would it have been for football fans to switch from the physicality and intensity of football to a boxing match?

Very, very easy. And also, very probable. Imagine having CBS go from the SEC championship game to the biggest boxing match of the year. Imagine watching the world's lightweight championship battle the Golden Boy after watching Alabama's stifling defense take on Florida's explosive offense.

Football fans would have loved it. Some might have even become boxing fans. Instead, boxing chose to stick a match on Pay-Per-View at 11 p.m. eastern time.

If boxing really wants regain the rapture it had in the '70s, maybe they should consider snubbing Pay-Per-View and West-Coast locations and go major network primetime instead.