With the 12th round knock out of Miguel Cotto by Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao, a new breath of life is found in the boxing world. A mega fight between the two who share the imaginary title of “Pound for Pound” best fighter in the world is in the works. Pacquiao will take on undefeated Floyd “Pretty Boy” Mayweather some time in 2010. Will this seed of interest bring a younger generation into the fold, or will this be the last stand of a legendary sport?
Over the last decade, the sport of boxing has been on a rapid fan base freefall. There have been many factors that contributed to this decline. Three in particular have been the most damaging.
1. The lack of quality fights for free
When I was a child, I remember watching Mike Tyson fights on NBC. Fighters like Haggler, Holyfield, Leonard, Herns, and Whittaker were occasionally seen fighting on network television. At a young age, this brutality was extremely enticing. I was hooked! When fights went to basic cable and then on to pay-per-view, I remained faithful, watching my favorite fighter Tito Trinidad keep jumping up weight classes knocking champions out.
But, what about the younger generation? They can’t just turn on the television and catch a boxing match anymore. They won’t have that introduction unless they happen to catch Friday Night Fights when it sporadically comes on. They won’t get attached to young and upcoming fighters.
2. The weak heavyweight division
Boxing’s heavyweight division has always been the jewel of the sport. There was a drought between the Ali and Tyson dynasties. There was a drought between Tyson and Lewis. Since Lewis, boxing hasn’t been the same. There is no clear heavyweight champion at the current time and no one is planning a tournament to unify them. No one cares. Where are the undefeated heavyweight fighters with the over 90% knock out ratio? They don’t exist and the sport suffers for it.
3. Mixed Martial-Arts
Mixed Martial-Arts, commonly referred to as MMA, has exploded on the scene with exciting fights that air on basic cable almost every day of the week via the UFC. Younger demographics have been hooked and they are not leaving soon. Much more violent than boxing, MMA has also gained the attention of Generation X. We love the blood and broken bones; the body slams, head kicks, knock-outs, choke-out and submissions. There are so many different ways to win. Is it even possible for boxing to compete? The average sports enthusiast today couldn’t name ten boxers in their prime, but ask them about MMA and the names start flying. George St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, Rampage Jackson, Chuck Liddell, BJ Penn, Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, Shogun Hua, and the Pound for Pound best MMA fighter in the world, Fedor Emelianenko.
So now it’s time for boxing to go out with a bang. The two best fighters of this era will come face to face bringing Black and Pilipino households to a halt, not to mention the rest of the world. This fight WILL break box office records!
With no lack of egos, getting this fight secured will be a battle in and of itself. Both fighters are major draws with belts. Pacquiao will need this fight to define his legacy more than Mayweather, so he will more than likely walk away with the smaller purse. How much smaller, will be the question.
Both Mayweather and Pacquiao have defeated Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya and Juan Manuel Márquez, but Pacman did it in more dramatic fashion. Will Mayweather’s speed compensate for Pacquiao’s power? Will Mayweather’s chin stand up to it’s first real test? Will Pacquiao over pursue and run into Mayweather’s right hand? All these questions will ba answered over screams from house to house.
With both fighters in their prime, the final emperor of boxing will undoubtedly be crowned at the end of this fight. There is no fight to look towards; no dangerous threat in the wings. Two days later when we wake up from our fight party hangover, we will all mourn. This will be the end of boxing as we know it.