Despite the naysayers over the years railing against the sport for a number of reasons, boxing’s popularity is perhaps at it’s highest for many a year as of 2016.
After speaking to a fellow journalist today on the phone, the conversation put into perspective for me the sport of boxing’s continued resurgence when we nattered about the current heavyweight landscape, which is on fire at the moment with the likes of Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua leading the way, to new stars emerging at welterweight like Errol Spence Jr and many more.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that people were saying “boxing is dead” or “UFC is taking over boxing”.
Since starting to cover the sport of boxing over the last few years, for me at least, both those statements have been categorically proven not to be the case, with the latter argument been dis-proven by both sports’ continued growth – showing there is easily room for the two (as of 2016).
Boxing is currently being shown on television more than ever again with the various broadcast exposure it continues to receive in it’s main territories (for big world title fights) like the United States and United Kingdom, and also with this year been an Olympic year, amateur boxing is considerably in the spotlight worldwide.
While professional boxing was almost flat lining a few years back, many of the sport’s outside the ring adversaries were keen to kick it when it was down, but now those same people are being forced to eat humble pie.
Boxing isn’t dead. Far from it.
After getting off the phone today, to a chap I might add who is a few years older (and certainly wiser) than myself, after we went back and forth on boxing’s current landscape, it re-enforced my belief even more that this business is governed by two main things when it comes to overall popularity with the masses – the heavyweight division and time.
Sure, many will point to the likes of Floyd Mayweather smashing records at the box office and on pay per view in recent times when the heavyweight division was virtually off the radar, but for me, when you really look back over boxing’s overall notoriety with the public at different times in it’s history, it’s consistent popularity has almost always been dependent on the success of the heavyweights (with a few exceptions, granted).
It’s an almost cyclical business and like any entertainment based professional sport, is talent driven.
When there is an interesting, exciting heavyweight division, people who normally wouldn’t watch boxing seem to tune in.
Outside of the heavyweights, Floyd Mayweather was a complete once off when it came to pay per view, a master businessman who realized that becoming a villain during his career was a highly profitable exercise.
But in recent months, and even weeks, with Anthony Joshua’s IBF heavyweight title win and the continued back and forth buzz and chat from fans about the heavyweight circle involving him, WBC champion Deontay Wilder and the real – linear champion Tyson Fury, there is a new type of energy sweeping boxing at the moment, that is quite a bit different to what Mr. Mayweather generated in his time.
It’s almost palpable in that people are genuinely excited to see what is going to happen next in the heavyweight division, and also lest we not forget, what will unfold in some of the other weight classes too – that are likewise seeing other tremendously gifted new stars emerge.
More than anything though, the heavyweights appear to be leading the way for this new, almost post Mayweather-Pacquiao type era of boxing, and I for one can’t bloody wait for it.
I suppose the old phrase: “what goes up must come down” springs to mind and maybe this is a significant “up” time for the sport of boxing. Lets enjoy it while it’s here – once again.
Boxing, it’s a funny old game.
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