There are a lot of lessons, both good and bad, that can be picked up from the recent fiasco that was the Floyd Mayweather Jr-Manny Pacquiao title fight.
With the fight’s revenue expected to hover in the vicinity of a whopping $400 million, the bout showed that fight fans are willing to shell out top dollar to watch the fight they really covet. It also showed how professional boxing is still more marketable than any other combat sport. Mixed martial arts, particularly the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), may be gaining ground, but the guaranteed purses Mayweather Jr. and Pacquiao took home ($120 million and $80 million, respectively) and the smashing pay-per-view subscriptions clearly show that pro boxing is way ahead when it comes to bringing in the dough. The three highest-paid UFC stars, heavyweight Alistair Overeem, middleweights Chris Weidman and Michael Bisping, do not even command $3 million per outing.
The insane money Mayweather Jr.-Pacquiao brought in figures to encourage pro boxing’s head honchos to join forces and bring into fruition more “fights of the century.” Politics in the sport and feuding promoters have kept dream bouts from happening, but change may be in the horizon following the resounding financial success of Mayweather Jr.-Pacquiao. Already there are talks of a middleweight showdown between fearsome sluggers Saul Alvarez of Mexico and Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan. Not a few are also salivating at the thought of the power-hitting Golovkin getting a shot at the slippery Mayweather Jr. The UFC has been gaining a huge following because the matchups the fans want do not take that long to happen. Part of the reason is that Dana White runs the UFC via remote control whereas the leadership in pro boxing is divided among the Alphabet Boys (the heads of the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO).
Of course, for all the money Mayweather Jr.-Pacquiao generated, there is the undeniable fact that the fight was a huge letdown. If promoters want to stage a mega boxing fight, it should happen at a time when the protagonists are at their prime. The fight took nearly six years to happen and the performance of both fighters convinced many that they really should have fought in 2010.
The controversy that attended the scoring of the fight also brought into fore the need to overhaul the scoring system in pro boxing. Even incumbent champions are clamoring for change, with many asseverating that premium must be given to the aggressive boxer who is trying to initiate the hostility. There is nothing wrong with a boxer adopting a “scientific” approach (translated: the boring-to-the-death hit-and-run style), but when you have people paying hard-earned money, the boxers and the entire establishment are duty bound to deliver their part of the deal. The UFC offers incentives for fighters who bring in the action. These days, the National Basketball Association (NBA) is mulling on introducing some changes after the tendency of opposing players to foul a poor free-throw shooter (magnified in the Hack-a-Jordan strategy in the recent playoffs series between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Houston Rockets) slowed down the games.
If pro boxing is to survive the rough waters it is in right now, changes must be made. The punch-for-pay business must evolve and incorporate into its system the sentiments and concerns of even the casual fan. These days, a fan cannot even distinguish a true champion from the pretenders, what with the sport littered with so many titles and champions. Changes must be made if pro boxing is to finally escape the description American writer Jimmy Cannon gave it. You know, that boxing is the red-light district of sports.
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