For nearly the entire 20th century, boxing was the second most popular sport behind baseball. Going all the way back to Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, and Rocky Marciano. Boxing continued to thrive with Muhammid Ali, George Foreman and Joe Frazier, and then we all got the Mike Tyson era.
But boxing isn’t what it used to be. Other sports leagues are dominating in ratings, even college sports. Many factors went into boxing’s decline.
5. Pay Per View
NFL, NBA, and MLB are the most popular sports leagues in America. If you want to watch a game you can simply watch a game when it’s airing. The only private telecast the NFL has is the NFL Network game once a week on Thursday night. In boxing the “biggest fights” of the year are shown on pay per view. Could you imagine if the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, World Series, or NBA Championship was on pay per view?
4. Rewarding Losers
Everybody wins in 21st century boxing, even the loser. Boxing is the only sport you can watch and the loser will celebrate after the competition. Why? Because the winners share isn’t just about who wins anymore, it’s about lasting the entire fight. Even if a boxer loses by decision, he can still make millions if he makes it the entire fight without getting knockout out. Today’s boxers try to avoid getting knocked out rather than winning it all.
3. UFC and MMA
This has been a huge debate in the fighting community for quite some time. But the younger generation has made it loud and clear: mixed martial arts is more fun to watch. Boxing is becoming boring and unwatchable to many youngsters because it is too simple and the fighter can only use his or her hands. In the UFC, fighters are flying across the ring nonstop. UFC fighters are on the ground in submission moves unlike boxing as well. Knees to the face, elbows to stomach, and swinging back kicks across the forehead are more entertaining than two boxers jabbing at each other for 15 rounds in today’s fast pace generation.
2. Superstars and Rivalries
When two great boxers go at it, it’s a great fight worth watching. Only one problem, we haven’t had that for a long time. All time greats like Rocky Marciano and Joe Louis used to verse each other. The most notable rivalry in boxing history was between Frazier and Ali who squared off three times. Possibly the biggest rivalry ever was between Jake LaMotta and Sugar Robinson. They fought each other an outstanding six times. For boxing fans to never get even one Floyd Mayweather- Manny Pacquiao fight is ridiculous.
1. Over-Protection and Weight Classes
When Muhammid Ali first fought Joe Frazier in 1971, Ali weighed 215 pounds and Frazier weighed 205 pounds. Frazier would then defend his title against George Foreman who outweighed him by 15 pounds(1) Today is a lot different. If one boxer outweighs another by even two or three pounds, the fight is likely off. Everything must be perfect from start to finish. The contract and “split” must be good, even for the loser, the location must be ideal, neither can outweigh each significantly, and the drug testing must be agreed upon by both parties. Now boxers wear their shorts so high, it’s up to their chest making it harder for their opponents to punch in the stomach area. A smart tactic but not entertaining for viewers who want to see the best out of two boxers. It’s always important to be safe, but in today’s boxing culture a fight is pretty much called off at even a hint of blood. No more 13 round grueling duels, just friendly jabs for easy money.