Boxing Still Lives

By Tom Donelson, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: June 20, 2009

IOWA CITY (BASN) — Scott Kraus recently wrote in East Side boxing .com, “Can you name the last sport to die in the United States? I’ll give you some time to come up an answer.”

His answer was zero and made a case that boxing is not dying but still alive and well. As he noted, “Apparently, I lie in a very different world than the writers inspired to eulogize a sport that consistently draws thousands of people to arenas and millions of television viewers around the world on a regular basis.”

Boxing may not be as popular as before and it is sport beset with problems but it still draw worldwide. Take the recent Klitschko-Chagaev fight. 60,000 people bought tickets to see the fight live and when one of the Klitschko’s brothers fights David Haye, look for another 60,000 tickets sold.

It was shown worldwide on various networks including SKY TV and ESPN Classic, so millions more saw the fight worldwide. Not a bad draw for a sport that is dying or supposedly on its death bed.

Boxing has always been on someone’s death bed yet it keeps surviving. While Mixed Martial Arts have gained in popularity, Mr. Kraus observed that both boxing and MMA are two different sports, with one emphasizing strikes and the other combining grappling, strikes and kicks.

So both sports have their unique aspect to keep fans excited. I have written on this before but it is worth repeating, in today’s brave new world of television and internets, sports promoters have the ability to reach audiences worldwide.

New sports can be created but the older sports have new competition for viewers. The negative of all this is many sports have become niche sports for diehard fans and have new challenges to reach new or casual fans.

Boxing is no different and so is the MMA. Both sports have their own challenges. As for the MMA, the sport is now faced with the challenges of expanding its fan base beyond the hard core.

While the MMA has increased popularity, it is still a niche sport and may stay that way. Not that is bad since there is money to make even as a niche sport. Sports have their ebb and flow depending upon the economy or the state of the sports.

Boxing and MMA are sports depended upon the development of stars. There are times when old stars pass the scene but new stars have yet to enter the audience conscious. Boxing is now entering an era in which new stars are being developed and MMA have their own stars that build PPV numbers.

Kraus noted that in Japan, both the MMA and boxing do well an we are witnessing the resurgent of boxing in Europe where the Klitschkos’ sell out arenas and many European fighters have developed their own fan base with no needs to come across the Atlantic to make money.

This is both good and bad.

Good since it shows the health of the sport that is able to reach across national borders. It is bad since many of these stars are invisible to American audience. In the Heavyweight division, the bigger stars are European and rarely do they fight over here. Klitschko’s brothers have not yet develop a audience in the states but they have a great following in Europe.

The key for boxing as far as interest in the Heavyweight division is when American fighters become good enough to challenge for the title. When that happens, then boxing will see resurgence on both side of the Atlantic.