Why Boxing Needs to Bring Back 15-Round Title Fights
Boxing has a lot of well-documented problems that ail the sport, but most people see changing championship fights from 12 rounds to 15 rounds as a positive thing.
Boxers who fight at the highest level will take less damage with 12 rounds, but it makes the sport lose some of its prestige, and, more importantly, it makes the fighters who are involved in these fights less money.
The rounds were taken out mostly because of one fight. Ray Mancini vs. Duk Koo Kim happened on November 13, 1982. This fight's grueling nature led to Kim's death, which, while a tragedy, is part of the risk in the sport.
By 1988, major title fights had been reduced to 12 rounds. However, it might be time to revisit the rules because of boxing problems and because...
Medical Science Keeps Improving
Since the rule was passed, 23 years have passed. 28 years have passed since the Mancini-Kim fight.
Every year, technology and science continue to grow. Things that might have helped boxers in the past, but were unknown, might be clearer now.
It doesn't mean that boxers wouldn't still suffer damage, but medical science could reduce the amount of damage inflicted in the ring.
It is the most important thing to think about, when questioning if the rule should be changed, as it involves the safety of the fighters.
If so much time hadn't passed, the rule might not be worth revisiting.
It Would Make Title Fights a Little More Special
There is something about knowing that only a certain kind of fight goes those extra rounds, that makes it special. It gives it an exclamation point that other fights lack.
When regional and lower-belt fights get the same amount of rounds, it's like saying that they are the same thing.
But they're not.
Two men who fight for the title are fighting for the most prestigious thing in all of boxing. They're fighting for a claim to being the best in the world.
It should mean that they are willing to push themselves a little harder. That they are willing to risk a bit more.
It's what prizefighters do, and it shouldn't be compromised.
It Tests a Fighter's Mental Ability
Fights are exhausting on a person's mental state.
There is nothing like having to face someone down who is aggressively trying to beat you into unconsciousness.
The problem is, that when fighters are put in the same kind of fight that they already fought to get to a title fight, a 12-rounder, it doesn't mean as much.
The amount of pacing, the mental exhaustion, the amount of emotional control needed is already incredible. Then, making it three rounds longer than anything a boxer has had to do before, makes it even worse.
The fighter is faced with a new experience that he has to overcome on the biggest stage he's ever been on, or succumb and face defeat.
It shows who the mentally strong fighters are, and who will fall apart when facing that last push.
It Tests Endurance
Vince Lombardi said it best, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all."
It doesn't matter how good a fighter might be, if he takes time off from the gym, if he parties non-stop, if he just didn't commit that last little bit, it will show.
Those extra rounds are the difference between victory and defeat, and the men who have pushed themselves to go those extra rounds, proved to be some of the greatest champions in the history of the sport.
It's that last little bit that splits the good fighters from the great ones, and the men who want to be champion from the ones who crave it.
It Tests the Fighter's Training
Every great fighter was a gym rat, with only a few exceptions.
Exhaustion can make people seem like cowards, but it also does something else. It shows how much the fighter has trained.
When exhaustion sets in, it's obvious who has trained in their down time and who was lazy.
Boxers who never leave the gym have better stamina, and like any martial artist, they are so heavily trained to do the right things, that it it's subconscious. Even in the late rounds, they'll keep doing what they have been taught to.
It is the ultimate showing of who is a champion boxer and who is a part-time prizefighter.
Three rounds. That is all it is. Just nine extra minutes added to a fight.
And yet, it could change matches for the title back into what they once were.
A chance to prove that someone is the best in the world.