Heavyweight Boxing Division Losing Popularity to Lighter Weights

Leo ReyesAnalyst IJuly 3, 2010

LOS ANGELES - APRIL 24:  Vitali Klitschko (R) and Corrie Sanders exchanges punches in a bout for the vacant WBC Heavyweight Championship on April 24, 2004 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Klitschko defeated Sanders by TKO in the eighth round. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

David Haye could have been a gracious saviour for the lackluster showing of boxers in the heavyweight division in terms of popularity and patronage.

The British pride, however, has been ducking and dodging worthy opponents like the Klitschko brothers. Haye was rumored to have formalized a deal to fight a less capable and unpopular boxer, possibly to prolong his stay as the WBA heavyweight champion.

The latest news on David Haye's next fights shows he is fighting Audley Harrison, a virtual unknown—although he was a 2000 Olympic gold medalist—but his credential as a professional boxer leaves much to be desired.

Harrison had a losing streak from 2005 after losing to Danny Williams on a split decision, and later to Dominick Guinn in 2006. A year later, he was knocked out by Michael Sprott for the European union title.

Harrison's career is clearly on a downswing and it may not be a good match for the popular British boxer. Haye may be assured of another win by taking on Harrison, but the unpopular matchup would be tantamount to ducking the Klitschkos for an easy win over Harrison.

The heavyweight division has lost its appeal among boxing enthusiasts during the last couple of years. Gone are the days when Muhammad Ali, George Foreman. Joe Frazier, and Mike Tyson, among others, dominated boxing over other divisions.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

The down slide on the popularity and patronage of the heavyweight division could be attributed to the absence of credible heavyweight boxers who can attract boxing fans to watch them fight.

For several years, the heavyweight division has been dominated by the Klitschko brothers, who are both boring to watch. Other heavyweight contenders have been unpopular, except for the vintage heavyweight fighter Evander Holyfield and a few others who are mostly unknown to boxing fans.

Recent developments in the heavyweight division are not encouraging, as HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg has been less supportive of the Klitschko brothers as they continue to slide down in terms of marketability.

Past fights of the Kiltschko brothers were initially attractive and popular as HBO were on hand to promote the fights, but Greenburg says there is no longer any interest in them from HBO. Here's Greenburg's impression as reported in Fightnews.com:

“'I’m really souring on the heavyweights,' Greenburg was quoted as saying strangely on ESPN’s website, rather than that of his own network.

“'There doesn’t seem to be any interest in the U.S. and there doesn’t seem to be any heavyweights besides David Haye who would have any juice in challenging the Klitschkos.

"'We’re out of the heavyweight division. We’re not playing in that sandbox right now. It doesn’t make any sense for us. The fights happen over there [in Europe], they’re on tape delay. There is just very little interest in this country.'

"Greenburg added that HBO definitely will not televise Wladimir Klitschko against unbeaten Teddy Atlas-trained Olympic gold medal winner Alexander Povetkin (19-0, 14 KOs), or Vitali Klitschko’s next fight unless the opponent is David Haye or Tomacz Adamek."

Greenburg knows that any of the Klitschko brothers will not sell in the box office unless the opponent is David Haye. The Klitschko brothers are known for the dull and boring boxing styles in the ring which boxing fans do not enjoy watching.