Don’t Call It A Comeback!
With all the buzz surrounding this (finally announced) super fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, you would think that boxing fans would slow down and see what’s really going on. Instead, the boxing purists out there are filled with pessimism while the casual fan thinks this is the fight that will “save” boxing. The truth is both are wrong.
Sports are all about currency. Both in the literal sense of money and also figuratively as in social currency. Take major Sports brands that are struggling to win right now such as the Lakers, Knicks, or Yankees. All of those are still making money but because they have been struggling in recent memory because they don’t possess the same social currency. They aren’t the talk around the water cooler, the lead story on SportsCenter and they don’t dominate the Sports Talk airways like they once did.
Socially speaking Boxing has been dead for years. There are endless amounts of reasons why. In my option a few of the glaring reasons why boxing died socially are the absence of big fights on free TV, corruption, a lack of big names (especially in the heavyweight division), and the rise of the UFC. I feel like I’m the kid stuck in between two parents who I love fighting each other for the right to be the victor in a pointless argument. I see both sides, but I disagree with both sides at the same time.
Boxing purists will tell you that boxing never died and it’s doing better than ever. Casual Sports fan will tell you that Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao is the last great fight in boxing forever. In reality the truth is somewhere in between. Boxing has the opportunity to return back to into social prominence in part because of this super fight, but in larger part thanks to the business practices it’s imploring nowadays. Ironically the business decisions driven by greed and corruption that boxing made years ago is what caused the fall of the sport I love the most. These days there are endless amounts of cable channels, digital media hubs, Amazons, Netflix, major Networks and the list goes on and on. With all of these entertainment outlets the need for content has never been higher.
This is why Boxing is the new Gold Rush.
UFC & Boxing
Let’s face it, the UFC has peaked. Between all the fight cards (free or PPV), performance enhancing drugs, and the biggest starts starting to age and retire, the UFC more than likely won’t get any bigger than it is now. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact I am a huge UFC fan and think there is a ton of young talent coming up.
But I’m a diehard fan. The casual fan isn’t tuning in for UFC Fight Nights. Boxing on the other hand is starting from the bottom. There is nowhere to go but up. Gone are the days where Boxing and Horse Racing dominated our Country. Honestly, those days are never coming back. The NFL is king and will be for as long as fantasy sports exist, and the NFL continues the change the rules to promote scoring. But Boxing doesn’t need to be king, Boxing needs structure. In a matter of weeks Boxing Manager/Adviser Al Haymon has closed deals with NBC Sports, CBS Sports, and Spike TV to provide Boxing content. Haymon’s deal is called a “Time-Buy” deal, basically he is paying for air time on these major networks and they in turn provide the coverage. It’s a win-win for both the fighters and networks. The fighters get the exposure necessary to become “household names”, great fights can be seen and the best stories get told. The Networks get the thing they covet the most: Content.
Let’s not forget, Television is about ratings and selling ads. These Networks don’t want Boxing to fail. They will dedicate the resources necessary to promote and brand the product for success. Think about this for a second, Haymon’s stable fights on Friday Night Fights which has been a fixture of ESPN’s programming for years. Historically that’s a breeding ground for young, up and coming fighters. Eventually they branch out and fight on any or all of the Networks that are homes for Boxing content now. There are endless cross promotional and controlling who becomes the next big star possibilities here.
We all know that money makes the world go round. There’s no money like Sports money these days. Look at the current Boxers on top of the money pile in the Sport. Floyd Mayweather controls his own empire. He started Mayweather Promotions just so he can cash in on everything from the purse, merchandise, to hot dog sales in the venue. The other top cash cows go for a more traditional approach. Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, and Wladimir Klitschko all have their native countries backing them as well as endorsement deals outside of the ring. In the 1800’s The California Gold Rush brought hundreds of thousands of people to California and it resulted in a social and economic boom that was felt for generations to come. I believe that if Boxing doesn’t get in its own way we could be looking at the next big Boxing boom in our Country.
Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are not the last big fight in Boxing, I would argue these men have an opportunity to kick this whole movement off the right way and put Boxing back to the forefront where it belongs.