While many argue about whether boxing or MMA is the better fighting sport, as a boxing fan I am grateful that MMA is doing well and providing one my favorite sports a stiff competition.
In the last couple of years, we’ve started see the sport of boxing slowly pick itself up from the ground. For awhile, the sport seemed to be slowly becoming more and more irrelevant in the mainstream media.
Even now, it’s barely featured in sports shows and many sport sites don't even have its own section for boxing. If a website does have a fighting sport section, it will most likely be MMA. Readers of this article only has to look at this website to see what I'm talking about.
Boxing is now relegated in the ‘Other’ section with 'major' sports as badminton, cricket, etc. CFL gets more coverage in this website. No offense to CFL, but it shows how far boxing has fallen off from the mainstream. What happened to the days when boxing was often the topic of discussion both on TV and radio?
Well, corruption, less accessability, politics, greed and ignorance toward the fans happened. With no other fighting sport being competitive, boxing was free to do what it wants until UFC came and brought the sport of MMA into prominence.
Boxing fans are complaining now about Pacquiao vs. Mayweather not happening; just imagine if there was no pressure from another fighting sport. There might not have been any negotiations at all. Also fans might not have had a chance to see some of the great fights in recent years such as Cotto vs Pacquiao, Mayweather vs. Mosley and Marquez vs Diaz.
In boxing, fans may have to wait years to finally see their fantasy match-ups. In UFC it's almost guaranteed that the matches that people want to see will happen. Actually MMA fans are spoiled in the way that they get to see the the best possible fights multiple times a year.
As a sport MMA had its down moment and UFC’s early struggles are well chronicled. But when Dana White and Zuffa took over, they did what boxing use to do.
Provide the fans the best entertainment possible and pit the best fighters against each other. They also made the sport more accessible to the casual fans. As a result, UFC became one of the fastest rising sports especially among the younger generation. It’s not rocket science. if you want fans to follow certain fighters, then you got to find ways to introduce them to the fans. Too many times, boxers are too protected and access to them are too restricted.
How can boxing expect to compete with UFC, when most fans don't know many of the up and coming fighters and can only see the top fighters on premium channels. In UFC they do a great job of exposing their young fighters and making the fans relate to them.
Can we say the same thing about boxing? Will most casual boxing fans know about Sergio Martinez, Nonito Donaire Jr. and Timothy Bradley? Most likely not.
It is well known that one of the most followed boxers today is Manny Pacquiao and his countrymen follow and support him very passionately. But ask a number of those same fans about the second best Filipino fighter in Nonito Donaire and you'll be surprised by their responses. From my experience, many Filipino 'boxing' fans don't even know who he is.
It's because boxing has failed in marketing their fighters to the masses and as a result, they've lost potential fans to MMA.But boxing is now slowly realizing that they must step up their game. UFC has become successful and a legit competition, so now boxing is being forced to improve its product for fear of becoming more irrelevant.
We’ve seen the results already in the last couple of years. We’ve probably witnessed more great and memorable fights in the last two years than the previous five or six. So instead of criticizing MMA, boxing fans should support the sport and hope that they keep on putting out an excellent product. If they do, then us boxing fans will surely reap the benefits.