Monday, September 26, 2005

The sport of boxing needs help. Thanks to me, they have it.

I did something this weekend I haven’t done in a long time. What could that be? Well I’ll tell you. I actually sat down and enjoyed a boxing match. Some of you are horrified by the brutality of that sport and just want to stick with watching football. And most of you thought that boxing had disappeared from the face of the earth. Well, unfortunately, for the most part it has.

I did not actively seek out the boxing, it sort of found me. I was taking a break from watching a DV D and began flipping through the HBO channels on my dish and stumbled over it. It was a heavyweight bout with Wladimir Klitschko facing Samuel Peter for the right to be number contender for both the IBF and WBO titles.

As I said earlier, and some probably didn’t believe me, I enjoyed this fight. Klitschko won in a unanimous decision even though he was knocked down 3 times throughout the match. These two warriors went after each other in the last few rounds giving it all they had. The only problem with that was that for about three of the middle rounds, they just kind of danced around and hugged each other. Other than that it was an exciting fight.

That is one thing I thought I would never say about a fight, especially since Mike Tyson had lost the ability to box. I never even expected to watch another fight in my life; boxing had lost any appeal it had ever had for me. The main reason is because there are no big names left in the sport of boxing. At least there are no big names left who can fight.

I am just a casual fan of boxing, in the extreme sense of the word casual. Let’s put it this way, say Beaver Dam had a sports team and they were playing a game this week at home. I am a walk up customer. Many people buy season tickets to ballgames and still others buy tickets for one game many weeks ahead of time. These are fans of that game and that team. I am a walk up customer who just out of the blue decides to check out a ballgame that day. There is no special reason other than I just felt like checking it out.

That is how I am with boxing if I see it on TV, sometimes I feel like watching sometimes I don’t. I never make time for it or seek it out. That is the problem with boxing, they have too many casual fans who can take it or leave it and to few hardcore fans who search it out.

If I am anything, I am a solutions oriented person and I have a few things that the sport of boxing can do to fix itself, no pun intended.

1. Boxing doesn’t need to fix itself. By that I mean there does not need to be any type of shady decisions or a whisper of the fix being in. I know this isn’t the 1950’s and organized crime probably has moved on to other things, but there are still some decisions that take place today that some question. I do not know if they are fixed for money or maybe a judge or a referee owes a promoter a favor or nothing fishy is going on at all. I just know that you need to have your fans to believe that boxing is not professional wrestling.

The heads of the boxing federations need to make sure to clamp down on any fighter or promoter who claims that a fight was fixed, whether it was or not. The NBA threatened to kick Jeff Van Gundy out of the league for hinting that the NBA refs were favoring one team over another. If a boxer claims to have been cheated in a fight the federations need to make sure that there are measures to keep that boxer under control, whether it is by suspensions or fines.

2. Boxing needs to get rid of all the different organizations. We have the IBF, the WBO, the IBC, the ATM, the BMF; it gets a little crazy when you have twenty different champions. It is so bad that I could probably win a boxing title and I haven’t boxed since 1974. Get together and make the title World Champion mean something. Let the title holder be the one and only champ.

3. Boxing needs to quit taking itself so seriously, especially when it comes to pay per views. I have watched maybe three boxing pay per views in my life and none cost less than fifty dollars. FIFTY DOLLARS! For a sport that barely draws a passing interest from most sports fans. Lower your prices and maybe, just maybe you will draw in the casual fan. It is pretty hard to sell pay per views when the average home owner needs to sell tickets to watch the fight at his home.

4. Boxing needs to market itself better. I know it is hard to market athletes in a sport no one watches, but you have to start somewhere. Maybe they could put better fights on free TV and let the average fan have a chance to stumble onto an exciting bout between two great fighters they would normally have to pay to see. Surely there are some sporting goods companies that would be willing to take a cheap chance on a boxer. Steal a marketing guy from the NFL, NBA, or even the MLB and let them run wild. Anything would be better than what is being done now.

5. Get rid of Don King or let him be the poster boy for boxing, one or the other. There are probably as many people that hate Don King as there are that like him, but which ever the case, he is probably the most well known figure in the sport. Boxing needs to decide if it would rather push him underground because of his somewhat shady past and dealings and make sure the public knows you are taking your sport’s integrity seriously. Or push him to the forefront and make him your unofficial spokesman for the sport and make him a part of your marketing campaign. If possible get him out of promoting fighters and into promoting the sport as a whole.

6. Perhaps the biggest thing the sport of boxing needs to do is to get or make some big names. Boxing needs to pick the cream of the crop in the heavyweight division and push them like crazy. Boxing could learn a few things from professional wrestling about promoting their matches. Boxing will not be able to draw big crowds or big pay per view numbers until the produce fighters that the public cares about. I say heavyweights because that is where the money is, but the sport should not forget about their other divisions. The other divisions will make money too, if they are marketed correctly.

Those are just a few ideas from a guy who knows nothing about the sport of boxing. I think some of them are good ideas and could help revitalize the sport. If the powers that be in boxing want them they can have them, provided I get all credit and a cut of the profits they are sure to rake in.


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Travis said...

What boxing needs now is what it needed in the 1960s when Cassius Clay came in. First of all, the heavyweight division is the only division for the casual fan. And that division has got nothing but slow, methodical, defense first fighters.
Clay/Ali changed boxing. He was quick AND strong, he was flamboyant and polarizing. The other things are good, but you give me a great fighter who's fun to watch, and you'll see interest in boxing again. Tyson did it for a while, but he screwed himself over. We're just waiting for the next great one to revive the sport.

Narcis said...

travis is right, a star is all that is needed.

give it a good year. gotta win the gloves first.