Back in 2008, Joe Rogan, commentator for the UFC, had a back & forth with boxing promoter, Lou Dibella. Joe made some good points, but then he said that boxing is dying. As a former amateur boxer, former USA Boxing coach, and fan, I agree that boxing is dying. It may be hard to believe after this weekend’s fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor of mixed martial arts fame, but it is slowly dying, but not for the reasons Rogan thinks.
Joe Rogan believes that mixed martial arts is combat sports evolving. He reasoned that boxing’s popularity is waning, because people are bored with two guys only throwing hands; in the UFC, those guys throw punches, elbows, kicks, grapple & employ submission holds. Oddly enough, I got into boxing through MMA. I trained in a school that taught multiple styles with boxing at it’s core. I paid for and watched the first 4 or 5 Ultimate Fighting Championships. After a while of training, I got smitten with the sweet science. I started watching less UFC and more boxing. That anecdotal story is not why I disagree with Rogan’s rationale for boxing’s dying popularity.
It’s slow death is due to the politics of boxing: overprotective promoters and countless sanctioning bodies with their unlimited titles. THAT is killing boxing. People love to see two combatants enter the ring and throw hands, but the politics of boxing make that difficult. No fight can just be a fight; there has to be a championship attached to it – intercontinental champ, regular champ, super champ, north American champ, yadda yadda yadda. Look at Al Haymon, while I applaud him for putting fights on network television, many of his fighters only fight once a year. These promoters match their fighters against sub par opponents to build up their record instead of making evenly matched bouts which would result in a more entertaining fight.
There’s a lot more than can be said, more reasons why boxing is not as popular as it was back in the day, but I’m not much for deep thoughts or long, drawn-out arguments, so I will end it here. Give fans competitive fights and people will watch.