Can boxing be popular again
By Byler Henry
The UFC has grown in popularity and has started to take over boxing’s spot in combat sports. The UFC was started back in 1993 as an elimination tournament fought in an octagon cage between different martial arts styles such as boxing, Karate, kick boxing, wrestling, Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and Sambo. The winner of UFC 1 was Royce Gracie and there have been a few stars showcased during the early tournaments such as Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Tito Ortiz, and Randy Couture. There weren’t many rules and no weight classes like there is today. UFC couldn’t compete with boxing back in the 90’s because boxing was an established sport and has been popular for years up to that point. The 90’s showcased established and young and upcoming boxing stars such as Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Roy Jones Jr., Julio César Chávez, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Félix Trinidad, Lennox Lewis, and Riddick Bowe just to name a few. Some well-known fights took place in this era.
Sometime during the 2000s UFC slowly started to rise in popularity and cause a shift. Popular, rising stars included Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, Anderson “The Spider” Silva, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and Wanderlei Silva. Many well-known UFC fights took place in this era. Today, the popularity of the UFC has skyrocketed more and have many viewers tuning in. They have hosted fights in famous arenas such as Madison Square Garden, MGM Grand, Staples Center, and many venues in other countries such as Canada, Germany, Ireland, England, Mexico, Brazil, and Australia among others. UFC is now so popular Conor McGregor has brought Floyd Mayweather out of retirement to fight him in Las Vegas. Even though it’s an MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter vs a boxer, this will be a strictly boxing rules fight. It will be in a ring and not an octagon. Many boxing critics and fans feel like this fight will be an unfair one-sided fight.
With the popularity of the UFC, what is the state of boxing today? Legendary boxing trainer Ken Adams who knows a thing or two about boxing feels that boxing has some good fights this summer that could help bring it back to popularity. “I think it’s going to turn around this summer. They have much better fights now. Before we were having mismatches, but right now we are getting better fights, we are getting people that are both undefeated and one defeat fighting each other.” He says. He is a former amateur boxer and professional boxing trainer who has trained some of the best. HE has coached 26 professional world champions, 34 Olympians, and 56 boxers who became world champion. He was also inducted into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame, and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
One fight that should provide excitement and start to raise popularity is the Gennady Golovkin (GGG) vs. Canelo Álvarez fight. Gennady is undefeated with a fight record of 37-0-0 with 33 knockouts, while Canelo has a fight record of 49-1-1 with 34 knockouts. “I think that’s an outstanding fight with many people favoring GGG. I think Canelo can beat him, outbox him use his height and reach and his conditioning.” Coach Adams also gave his input about the upcoming fight. Can Canelo hand GGG his first loss? On September 16, we will find out. Legendary boxer Michael Moorer also has his opinion on the state of boxing. “Boxing has to go back to its roots, to go back to the roots; you have to go back to the armature days.
We would fight overseas all the time, we’d have international bouts fighting the Russians, Cubans, Germans, Koreans, they don’t establish that anymore in the amateurs.” He also feels that the Canelo and GGG fight is unpredictable. “It’s good on paper; all fights are good on paper, until they get in the ring. Styles make fights. When those two get in the ring, honestly no one knows what’s going to happen. One punch could change the whole story.” Moorer has a fighting re-cord of 52-4-1 with 40 of those wins by knockout, boxing at the light heavyweight and heavyweight weight class. He was also inducted into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame.
Boxing may be able to level the playing field and have an even healthy competition with the UFC one day. If boxing can give the fans fights they want to see like the UFC does, the popularity can start to even out the playing field. Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn fight July 2 could also start to help raise the popularity of boxing. This is a title fight for the WBO welterweight title live on ESPN. This summer the fights are looking good, and if all goes well boxing could slowly start to be neck and neck with MMA. There is nothing wrong with competition, and the popularity of UFC could help boxing raise the bar and have more young stars take it back to the glory days.