By Charlie Knoxville
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Boxing was once considered a top sport in the United States of America during the early 1900’s and up to the 1990’s. But boxing in the early 2000’s has dwindled down to a niche sport with a cult like following and little mainstream media coverage.
I remember watching boxing on ABC network television growing up and they would cover the sport often on various media outlets like newspapers, magazines, television and radio. They had guys who were accessible to the public and did interviews so you got to know them and grow more interest in the fight. ABC had guys like Alexis Arguello, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, Muhammad Ali, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Bazooka Limon, Pipino Cuevas, Tommy Hearns, and the list can go on forever.
Today people hardly even know who the rising stars in boxing or the champions are. Oscar De La Hoya was arguably the last superstar boxing had in America.
I think the downfall of boxing has to do with promotional greed and not willing to invest money into the sport to help it grow.
Promoters like Don King latched onto the Pay-Per-View (PPV) model as a way for them to make quick money.
The countless number of horrible PPV’s and lack of free boxing cards on network TV that took place in the 1990s and early 2000’s is what made it very difficult for the casual fans and other fans who once enjoyed watching boxing from following it actively. Many fans couldn’t afford to buy every unnecessary PPV.
Boxing as an international sport has never died, but in North America the sport is near the bottom of the list of sports that the media finds interesting enough to cover…The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) which was birthed in the 1990’s has steadily taken over the youth demographic in Canada and the United States the past 5 years.
In my opinion boxing has to first make this super fight with Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Money Mayweather Jr. happen. Once they get that done they need to build off of that momentum and not look back.
They need focus on making better undercards and showcase the undercard fighters back stories on their countdown shows as well, not just the main eventers.
They need to get the public more familiar with the fighters the same way the UFC has done in America with their shows like Spike TV’s “The Ultimate Fighter” and their monthly free fight cards aired on the Spike cable network.
The promoters need to hire great public relations teams that will help get the up and coming exciting fighters noticed on radio shows, talk shows, newspapers, commercials, and the internet.
Dana White of the UFC made a very truthful comment during the UFC 108: “Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva” press conference, when asked about boxing and the Pacquiao vs. Mayweather debacle he mentioned that boxing promoters don’t invest into their sport they constantly take from it instead of putting money back into the sport to help it grow.
Boxing promoters are not willing to take chances anymore they don’t wanna take risks or face monetary losses the way Dana White and the Fertitta brothers have done with the UFC.
I agree 100 percent with the UFC President. Dana White has the right key and model for boxing, boxing could use a guy like Dana White. He won’t be able to get all the fighters under one organization because there are millions of boxers worldwide but he would have the marketing know how to attract a younger market back to the sport the way he did for the UFC.
Boxing promoters need to focus on marketing especially on the internet and on network TV, they need to get fans involved more and make the fighters accessible not just the super stars like Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao but the up and comers too.
Some fighters in the UFC are not top level fighters but the fans have developed a connection with certain fighters from getting to know their personalities on TV and continue to support those fighters even when they lose.
Boxers and promoters need to interact with the public more, do meet and greets for the fans and have prize giveaways because in the end it will all pay off, it will be all worth it when you gain more fans you gain more money and you help boxing continue to grow and flourish.
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I am an avid fan of boxing and video games. My first fight of memory was watching Prince Naseem Hamed destroy Kevin Kelly. I enjoy all aspects of the sport. My favorite current boxer is Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao. My favorite boxing match is Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo 1. I love watching boxing on Pay-Per-View more than being there live because you can really enjoy and watch the action from the best view.