MMA trumps boxing, again

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Conrad M. Cariño

Conrad M. Cariño

Boxing got a terrible beating from mixed martial arts (MMA) over the weekend. Okay, let me tell you what I’m talking about – Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson gave fight fans a match that delivered more than its hype over the weekend. And this is the second time this year that MMA one upped boxing because just as 2015 began, Cormier and Jon Jones gave fight fans a battle that has yet to be equaled in the boxing world also this year.

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Now make that 2-0 in favor of MMA when it comes to delivering marquee fights. While the megabout between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao last May was the richest in history and the most-watched fight on closed circuit television, it failed to deliver fireworks and disappointed many fans.

On the other hand, the Cormier-Gustafsson UFC light heavyweight championship fight delivered beyond its hype as both combatants had their moments in the ring. Cormier was able to heave and throw the Swedish to the mat once while the American was staggered a few times from the knees and punches of Gustafsson. But the championship experience of Cormier carried him through the fight and he won by a split decision. Two judges scored it 46-49 and 46-47 for Cormier and one scored it 48-47 for Gustafsson.

Even if scorecards showed the fight could have been won by either fighter, Gustafsson did not whine and look for an excuse for losing. That’s what you call true sportsmanship.

For his part, Cormier thanked Gustafsson for putting up a good fight that allowed the American to bring out the best in him.

The fireworks delivered by the Cormier-Gustafsson and Cormier-Jones fights should worry those in the boxing world.

So far this year, what fight in boxing really gave fight fans a treat? Definitely, it’s not Mayweather-Pacquiao.

Boxing still has a chance to even up the score before the end of the year from the much-awaited showdown between heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and Tyson Fury that will be taking place on November 28, 2015 and the bout between Canelo Alvarez and Miguel Cotto on November 21, 2015 for the middleweight crown.

Those two major fights are already being hyped up as marquee fights that could save boxing from falling into oblivion. Don’t get me wrong, because I am not saying boxing will die soon. But boxing, which has remained a fixture in the sports world and even in some societies, is in danger of losing its appeal as the permitted spectacle where two men can beat each other until one surrenders.

There was a time in the 1980s when there were calls for boxing to be abolished because of the several deaths that occurred in the ring and how Muhammad Ali eventually succumbed to Parkinson’s. That eventually led to the “sanitation” of boxing with the shortening of championship bouts to 12 from 15 rounds as a first step.

Although boxing is generally safer today than it was two or three decades ago, we hardly see the best of the sport wanting to square off the soonest time possible. In fact, Klitschko vs Fury is more than two years delayed while Alvarez-Cotto should have happened one year ago. And how long did it take for Mayweather and Pacquiao to square off?

Klitschko also suffers from criticism that he has faced mediocre opposition during his long reign, while Cotto has suffered two stoppage losses with one dealt by Pacquiao.

Comparatively speaking, Jones was the top dog in the MMA lightheavyweight ranks while Cormier was a formidable contender in the heavyweight ranks when they faced off, and Gustafsson, despite losing via first round stoppage to Anthony Johnson also this year, will be remembered for giving Jones his toughest fight so far.

Must fight promoters pay top boxers a minimum of $100 million to create marquee fights?

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