Boxing vs UFC (MMA)
Let me first start by saying, I love boxing and I love Mixed martial arts. But I am so tired of the debate of which sport is better.
It's been argued for years but facts are facts. From a business and consistent popularity standpoint, MMA has taken over and pushed boxing to the back burner for the better part of the last 10 years.
Aside from a few mega fights involving the few stars boxing still has, Floyd Mayweather, Oscar Dela Hoya, Manny Pacquiao, boxing has not had the prestige or big time importance it used to have.
We all know that the big fight many have been waiting for, Floyd vs Manny is coming in May, but after that, what is the next big fights that will carry the sport? Who are the stars? I may have some favorites, because I am a fan who follows the sport closely, but who are the stars that the general public will pay money to watch?
Now I applaud Al Haymon for making an aggressive push to re infuse boxing on as many platforms as he can, signing deals with just about every major television network, to broadcast fights regularly. A smart move indeed. But is it too late? Has boxing been passed by MMA for good? Will the glory days ever return.
But for context I think back to comments written by famous boxing broadcaster, Jim Lampley, in the Baltimore Sun years ago.
"The technical profundity of boxing is a product of its 115-year pedigree in this country, and to compare it to MMA is like comparing a mole hill to a planet. What I see with the UFC are bar fights. They may be very good bar fights, but they're still bar fights."
Even in 2006, this view is very controversial, but understandable.
In 2015, it's just stupid.
Calling a sport that is sanctioned by virtually all states that have athletic commissions in the U.S., a long track record of safety in its competition, and very commercially successful, "bar fights" is ridiculous.
I am a life long boxing fan and who grew up watching with my father religiously. Today, I still have a love for boxing but MMA has trumped it on my list of importance. I watch as much boxing as I can, and I watch every UFC show, no matter what.
Boxing was my father's sport, MMA will be my son's sport, though I will make sure he is exposed to and educated on both.
Let's take a minute to actually look at the business end of the debate. UFC didn't become the world’s fastest growing sport for nothing. UFC provides viewers with a card full of competitive and exciting fights, not just on PPV, but also on free television.
The UFC has a history of selling their cards based on the names on the marquee, and less of deserves the fight due to a win loss record. Bottom line, UFC books fights people want to see and they book allot of them.
In boxing, we get a big fight maybe once a year, and the rest are just showcase fights. A star vs a tomato can. At some point that runs its course and people don't want to pay top dollar for it. So many times the promoters refuse to book the fights the people want to see due to money disputes and stubbornness. No situation ever frustrated me more than us not being able to see Roy Jones Jr. vs Bernard Hopkins, while they still were relevant. Smh. Pathetic. So many times, if not all the time, boxing is not about the fans, its about the fighters and their money.
Another issue that has caused allot of fans to stray away from boxing is the title situation in the various weight classes. Boxing currently has 85 championship belts in 17 weight classes. While UFC has 8 divisions and 8 champions.
Which brings us to another issue, Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts are the sports, but UFC is the major MMA company. Boxing does not have an individual self contained ruling body that organizes the fighters. There is no NFL, NBA, or MLB of boxing. It's like the wild wild west.
Yes, fighters have exclusive right's to sign with certain promotions like Top Rank, Golden Boy, HBO, or Showtime, but there is no ultimate governing body.
In MMA, UFC is king, so fans know they can hold the organization accountable when they are getting what they want to see. In boxing, its a free for all.
But ultimately, it comes down to star power. Fans follow people they have a connection with and who are presented to them as big deal.
Floyd is a big deal, but he's at the end of his run. Who will take his place? Who can generate the buy rates on PPV to continue the long history of success we have seen from the sport of boxing?
I don't know, but I know for sure that UFC presents several marquee events every year that trump the one big fight boxing presents, once a year.
Again, I applaud Al Haymon's efforts, as he is trying to turn this around now. If boxing is to return to prominence, it must steal from the UFC playbook. The cards need to be stacked with high quality performers, and the boxers must be presented as stars. But until the champions are showcased and highlighted so that the public to actually know who they are, it will be an uphill battle.
A battle UFC is definitely winning.