When setting out on this little venture we call “The Fight Voice,” we laid out two steadfast rules that could not be breached. Rule #1 was that The Fight Voice is not a job. It is not a commitment that holds a burden over our heads and becomes a chore. And if it became that, then it would be time to quit and go back to being regular spectators. Rule #2 was that we would never rely solely on regurgitated news from other sources as a means of establishing content and driving viewership. You will get fight previews, recaps and highlights from us, yes, but you will also get creative stories and original thought. If you want to find out how many punches Floyd Mayweather landed in round 4 of his last three fights please check your Sunday newspaper or go to a boring website. The Fight Voice provides next-level fight analysis and opinions only.
With that said, I would like to tell you a story about Adam, an avid sports fan across the board who will watch a football game on Sunday, a men’s basketball game on Tuesday, and a European soccer league match on Friday morning if he had it his way. Unfortunately, Adam has lost his way when it comes to Boxing. I am sure there are specific reasons, some of which are obvious and continue to be red flags among the biggest boxing fans. However, I have concluded that Adam has simply lost his way because of some bad information. He has fallen into a vicious cycle of confusion when it comes to what is fantasy and reality in the fight game. And I am here to bring him back.
I would like to address the obvious issues with boxing in 2014, dispel the myths and debate the uneducated opinions of boxing critics in hopes that my friend Adam can find his path back to the sweet science.
So what would lead Adam to make these heinous conclusions about boxing? The obvious issues that have led others down the same narrow path may include:
1. Boxing continues to build insurmountable walls between promoters, including public feuds between Top Rank (HBO) and Golden Boy (Showtime) that derail the possibilities of making the best fights.
2. The lack of consistent testing for performance enhancing drugs paints a picture of unfair advantages for fighters who take the easy route and the ones who spend endless hours in the gym and play by the rules.
3. Simply put, the best fights for the sport and the fights that create the biggest buzz among fans are not always made.
4. And lastly, the reason that veered me off the path of Boxing in my early 20’s was the benefit I had of watching Mike Tyson tear through his opponents, only to find out that every fighter was, well, not Mike Tyson.
As I stated before these issues don’t fall on deaf ears. They are out there. They exist and continue to be issues for all parties involved, from promoter all the way down to the gyms searching for the next big star. But let’s step back and take a look at why Boxing is anything but dead in 2014. The data may surprise you.
Star power exists in 2014. While the Heavyweight division struggles to find the next big American champion, the other divisions are consistently putting out quality fighters who are at the top of their game–From the obvious pound-for-pound king, Floyd Mayweather, to international sensations Gennady Golovkin, Adonis Stevenson, and Sergey Kovalev, and through the ranks of the “tiny” guys like Leo Santa Cruz, Omar Figueroa, and Diego de la Hoya. And if you are an “old school” boxing fan and you want a throwback slugger the likes of Mickey Ward, Arturo Gatti, and Julio Cesar Chavez, look no further than Brandon Rios, Mike Alvarado, and Ruslan Provodnikov. One thing is certain…the stars are there. You just need to know where to find them.
Boxing is not as expensive as it once was. Yeah that’s right you read that correctly. While pay-per-view events do exist and are priced close to $70 in 2014, you may be surprised to know that the Tyson-Spinks fight in 1998 cost $49.99 while the Mayweather-Alvarez fight in 2013 cost $69.99. Essentially the price went up 40% over a period of 25 years, which is roughly 1.5% a year. That is the lowest inflation you will see anywhere over the past 25 years! If you are a premium cable subscriber and you can’t miss an episode of Game of Thrones on HBO, feel free to check out the HBO boxing schedule for free fights at least twice a month. HBO’s competitor and current nemesis, Showtime, also puts on some stellar cards as part of their regular programming. The prices for HBO and Showtime vary among cable and satellite providers, but treat yourself for once. You work hard. You are a good person. You deserve to enjoy some premium programming. If you can’t negotiate a pay-per-view event at the house with the boys once in a while over beers and wings or convince your wife to let you visit the local watering hole for a few hours, you can easily tune in to Monday Night Fights on Fox Sport 1 and Friday Night Fights on ESPN to check out the next big thing in boxing…for free! Let’s not use this excuse anymore.
The UFC has taken the reigns. Not so fast. Please don’t be confused by this opinion as I am an avid UFC fan. I watched the UFC go from a rogue, dangerous and unruly fight forum to well-organized, strategic, and insanely profitable business. But at my roots, I am a boxing fan. After doing some research on the pay-per-view buys for various UFC and Boxing events, you will find that both the UFC and Boxing are doing very similar pay-per-view numbers across the board. In fact, the list of pay-per-view events for the UFC from 2006-2013 is a nearly perfect bell curve with the highest point being represented by headliner Brock Lesnar, who is not even a trained mixed martial artist. Instead, one could argue that Lesnar brought the diehard WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) fans to the television for those high-grossing PPV events rather then the average MMA junkie. A star-studded card like UFC 158, which was headlined by George St. Pierre and UFC 168, which was led by record-setting women’s titleholder Ronda Rousey came in at close to 800k and 1 million buys, respectively. Conversely, lesser cards like UFC 149 and UFC 150 came in at 235,000 and 190,000 buys, respectively. Likewise in the boxing world, major bouts like the blockbuster between pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather and Mexican sensation Saul Canelo Alvarez drew a record setting 2 million buys. In contrast, in 2013, Manny Pacquiao coming off a major loss faced Brandon Rios in Macua, China to a tune of 500,000 buys. Either way, to say Boxing is leading the UFC, or vice versa, in popularity is just an inconsistent statement with questionable data.
Are you starting to be a believer? Are you all-in on boxing now? If not, just write down the following statements, tune into the upcoming fights and email me with your apologies at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Saul “Canelo” Alvarez continues to ignore his doubters and accept fights with the BEST fighters on the planet as he takes on Cuban technician, Erislandy Lara, on July 12.
• Gennady Golovkin and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. are letting the ink dry for what could be a fight of the year candidate slated for the middle of July.
• Leo Santa Cruz is back very soon. Have you heard the phrase, “punches in bunches…”?
• Keith “One Time” Thurman seeks destruction on April 26 as part of an intense triple header on Showtime, which includes the return of Argentinean slugger Lucas Matthyse and lightweight brute Omar Figueroa.
• Floyd Mayweather returns to the ring May 3 against slugger Marcos Maidana who is coming off a lashing of Mayweather protégé Adrien Broner.
• On June 7, with international stardom on the line, Sergio Martinez and rejuvenated Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto lace up the leather for what is sure to be a barn-burner.
If this was a sales presentation and the buyer was my friend Adam and I had to sell him boxing at its core, I would pitch it like this:
“Boxing has never been more alive than right now because it is easily accessible, reasonably affordable, contains an abundance of star power and let’s face it…it is and always will be the most raw form of human battle.”
Don’t let the naysayers convince you otherwise. Come back Adam. Come back to the boxing world and enjoy the sweet science with the rest of the fight freaks roaming the big blue marble.
The Fight Voice