The “O” Culture In Boxing

Wins, Losses, and Draws: Thoughts on The “0” Culture in today’s professional boxing landscape.


Introduction by 2 Time Welterweight Champion, U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist, and Head Trainer of WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, Mark Breland:

“I definitely think that today’s fighters place a lot more focus on an undefeated record. When I was coming up and fighting it was completely different. For example, take a guy with a solid record of something like 20-3. If those 3 losses were to top-level guys, he could be looked at as more dangerous as a 20-0 guy. Especially if the 20-3 guy didn’t take any bad losses. It was more of an emphasis on who a guy fought, rather than the record he had back then.”

What is the “0” Culture?

If you have been even remotely following the sport known as boxing for the past couple years in the modern era, then you have undoubtedly witnessed the ideology of the “0 Culture”.

The "O" Culture In Boxing

Whether it be the Mayweather tagline of “X amount of fighters have tried, X amount of fighters failed”, or young rising contender Keith Thurman telling “As long as you have a ‘0’ (on your record) it’s like holding on to a golden goose egg”, we have all seen it in some form.

Is being undefeated a bad thing? Absolutely NOT.

After all, that is why we keep score in modern sports today, to determine a winner and a loser. Winning is something everyone can easily comprehend and follow. However, the other side of winning can be a mean and cruel one.

Hyperbole aside, there was a lot of truth in what boxer Austin Trout told USA Today: “You have one loss in this boxing game, they try to throw you away.”  Still not sold on the concept of the “0” culture? Perfect.

What are the effects of the “0” Culture?

By far, the most rampant byproduct of the undefeated culture is a very false sense of entitlement. For time sake I will forgo specifics to make sure the point is not lost.

Moreover, some fighters feel that if they have amassed a certain record that they now can avoid specific fights, (even if the opponent is a mandatory/or worthy opponent) on the merit of having never been defeated.

The "O" Culture In Boxing

An undefeated record has the ability to create an excuse (a pretty good one I might add) as why to avoid a particular fight. I personally knew this way of thinking was a serious and prevalent theory when I myself very briefly rationalized a fighter not taking a fight because of his record.

I thought to myself, “Why should fighter A fight fighter B? Fighter B has too many losses! Fighter A has none!” A very narrow minded way of thinking indeed.

As in all sports, the media has a very large responsibility in the perception of sport. One main effect is that some (casual) fans may unintentionally begin to equate an undefeated record as the be all and end all in boxing.

This is where the responsibility of the media comes into play. (I will talk more about the role media plays in the next point.

Who is responsible for the “0” Culture?

My next point is “Responsibility.” I think it is safe to say that a large portion of boxing viewers are casual fans, which is perfectly fine. We are all casual fans of some sport.

However as I stated previously, the media has an extremely large role/responsibility in the shaping of mainstream boxing opinions, including undefeated fighters.

There are literally fans of the sport of boxing that turn to a particular media member/source for boxing. While this is perfectly fine, this is also a very tricky situation.

It is tricky in the fact the media personnel who are called upon to report and inform MUST be balanced and unbiased. If they are not, their personal, negative opinions of boxing become the firsthand knowledge of casual boxing fans.

When I say be balanced and unbiased, I mean simply report the news as it is. The narrative of a fight that you didn’t think was too exciting shouldn’t be written about as, “a fight that was so boring it put me to sleep.”

As a member of the boxing press your reporting should be held to a higher level of professionalism and integrity, save personal opinions for opinion/insight specific articles, which are fair game.

This is (the very minimal) cost you pay for the PRIVILEDGE of professionally covering the sport of boxing: Respect all fighters no matter what your personal opinions of them are.

In closing, there is not a single thing wrong with having and being proud of an undefeated record. After all, you train, compete, and dedicate your life to this sport to be the best.

The issue arises regarding undefeated records when the record itself becomes a form of entitlement and a hindrance to become the best.

If this article made you even pause for a second to think on undefeated records and their place in boxing, then my job is complete.

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