Originally posted on November 17th, 2011.
Editors note: Boxing has almost become extinct in the last few years save a few fans fighting for its relevancy. Mayweather is the only consistent draw, and he is finally beginning to slow. Below are the top reasons mixed martial arts is surpassing the sweet science.
Everything is at a stalemate- Let’s be completely honest, there are only two fights that all boxing fans want to see: Mayweather vs. Pacquiao and Klitschko vs. Klitschko. Everything else is pointless and a complete waste of money. Look at the three biggest fights of 2011 … Mayweather vs. Ortiz was a joke, Bernard Hopkins vs. Chad Dawson was even worse, and Pacquiao vs. Marquez did nothing except solidify the belief that boxing is fixed. Save for a Klitschko brothers tete-a-tete or a Pretty Boy Floyd/Pacman duel there’s no reason at all to watch.
Frequency of fights- I just named the three big boxing events of 2011 (I refuse to include the David Haye vs. Klitschko debacle). That pales in comparison to the almost monthly big MMA pay per view. Dana White is a master of scheduling fights that people want to see, and at intervals frequent enough to keep even casual fans’ interest peeked. I understand that UFC fighters belong to the organization and have no say in when or whom they fight, but that doesn’t excuse boxing promoters and their sanctioning bodies from only having 3 decent events in each year.
Dana White vs. boxing promoters- White is running a business and is out to make money just like boxing’s Top Rank, Golden Boy, Don King, etc, but his approach is much more effective. Instead of alienating his fan base like boxing continually does, White reaches out to his fans to show appreciation for their support. He actively responds to tweets, he frequently gives away tickets on a whim, and he has several events that are televised for no fee. Not only that, UFC has a promotion that gives fighters financial incentive to connect with fans by being active on Twitter. Bonuses are given for things such as most number of followers, highest percentage increase of followers, and most creative tweets. When was the last time a good boxing match was seen on network or plain cable television? When was the last time Bob Arum, de la Hoya, or Don King gave away free tickets to the casual fan? My guess is that I couldn’t even walk or talk when any of those may have happened.
Scoring controversies- Boxing is judged on four principles: clean punching, effective aggressiveness, ring generalship, and defense. Sounds really simple, huh? The fact that it is essentially impossible to produce any objectivity to 75% of the judging criteria partially explains why there have been so many ridiculous scoring controversies. The silly standard by which judges are instructed to score the action only explains part of the problem; nothing can account for the blatant, egregious decisions that checker the sports history. MMA has not been devoid of scoring issues, but one never dreads “going to the cards” after a UFC event to determine the victor. The outside influences, ulterior motives, and sheer corruption of boxing judges can never be discounted, and this alienates fans. Men love sports because of their fairness, impartiality, and finality (they produce a definite winner). Boxing sometimes flips that simplicity on its head, and no one appreciates that.
The “Superfight” won’t be so super- There seems to be no agreement on which boxing match was the greatest of all time, but the two answers are either Ali vs. Frasier I- “the fight of the century” or Ali vs. Frasier III- “the thrilla in Manilla.” As hyped as each of these fights were, the excitement behind each pales in comparison to the buzz that arises from just mentioning a possible Mayweather vs. Pacquiao bout. It’s estimated that this fight would surpass 2.5 million pay-per-view purchases, and each boxer could earn more than $50 million! No fight in MMA could ever come close to matching those numbers, but it doesn’t actually matter. Assuming this fight ever happens, it won’t be as spectacular as anticipated. Despite being off for nearly a year and a half, Mayweather’s unmatched defensive prowess was virtually flawless against alleged up and comer Victor Ortiz. Pacquiao has demolished his last several fighters, but he has been hurt by two of them, and he hasn’t had legitimate competition since he fought Juan Manuel Marquez for the second time back in 2008. His third match-up with Marquez produced a controversial decision, as many people (myself included) thought Marquez won the fight. Essentially the fighters’ careers are going in different directions, and Pacman is on the decline. If this fight happens in 1-2 years and one or both fighters is no longer in their prime does it still carry cache? When/if the fight happens and it’s a dud will people want a rematch? Almost nothing lives up fully to the hype, and unfortunately the hype for this fight is beyond measure. UFC has a group stars willing and able to fight; the present and future of the sports is not held hostage by two fighters already in their 30s. Boxing may be king now, but after the superfight disappoints, occurs too late to maintain the same level of interest, or never actually happens, MMA will be waiting in the wings to accept the crown indefinitely.