Boxing has made its mark as one of the most legendary and entertaining sports of our time. People can still recall some of the greatest boxing matches ever, but boxing is slowly becoming a thing of the past.
The legendary sport has been slowing down in major events over the years. The sport averages about two major pay-per-view events every year. Fight match-ups are becoming scarce and now boxing has a competitor in the race to be the most popular fighting sport — Mixed Martial Arts.
In the last decade, MMA has been growing in popularity all over the world. Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, was the first organization that brought the sport to pay-per-view audiences. MMA first started out with no rules or no weight classes nor time limit. The only way to win was by knockout or submission, so many people first viewed it as a barbaric form of fighting that showed no legitimate skill.
Since the UFC was instituted 16 years ago, the organization has developed weight classes, judges and rules so it would be sanctioned in many states in the U.S. and in several countries.
MMA fights are more susceptible to exciting finishes, where as big boxing matches usually end in decision.
UFC popularized MMA to the point that now there are several MMA organizations around the world. UFC has pay-per-view events at least once a month. Strikeforce, another rising MMA organization, recently signed a deal to show its fights on broadcast television.
Boxing, on the other hand, has stopped growing. The heavyweight division used to be a money-maker for boxing. Fights such as Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frasier and Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield were instant boxing classics. Now, most people don’t even know that Vitali Klitschko, the heavyweight champ, fought over the weekend.
Boxing still produces interesting bouts in other weight divisions, like the recent Floyd Mayweather vs. Juan Manuel Marquez fight, but even those kinds of match-ups are infrequent.
The question on boxing fans’ minds is who will fight next. Fans are hoping for Manny Pacquiao vs. Mayweather to happen soon. But the real question should be what will happen after that fight.
All the other match-ups that could make money have already happened. Oscar de la Hoya and Mayweather had to come out of retirement so the sport could make money. There are no up-and-coming boxers. All the fighters who are ranked now are most likely going to be the last of the famous fighters that boxing is going to have.
Boxing is in such bad shape that even once-famous boxers, such as Ricardo Mayorga, Eric “Butterbean” Esch and Ray Mercer have become MMA fighters. And who can blame them? MMA fighters usually fight three to four times a year, get to travel the country or the world and get to take part in an exciting sport.
It’s hard to support the argument that boxing incorporates more skill than MMA. MMA not only uses some of the same techniques found in boxing; it also adds kickboxing, wrestling, judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Also, MMA fighters only use 4-ounce gloves, which make their punches more dangerous.
If you put boxers in the ring with MMA fighters, the MMA fighters would be trained to defend themselves against punches, but boxers would not know how to defend themselves against a flying knee or an arm bar. Now, who do you think has the more skill between the two?
At this rate, boxing is going to be as annual an event as the Super Bowl. Eventually, the only boxing people we’ll get to see will be in MMA.