Editor's letter | Highlight 5 | Issue | Premium | Oct 08 2019

The boxing world is changing

Matt Christie on how boxing is changing to bring in new audiences
boxing
Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

BOXING, like every sport, needs people to watch it to ensure long-term survival. It requires an audience, not only in the form of paying punters, but also younger generations who can become fans and participants in the future. However, that need for attention, and in turn how that attention manifests itself, must be managed carefully.

In recent years, we have seen the amount of pay-per-view events increase dramatically. Some were born from rivalries that demanded settlement in a boxing ring. Fights like Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao, Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko and Carl Froch-George Groves II were all worthy of the platform. They sold themselves because they matched the best fighters with their best rivals and were therefore essential to the sport.

Other events, it can be argued, were products of the box office platform and the money it can generate. Purely business masquerading as sport. A fight like Mayweather-Conor McGregor is the obvious example. A fight involving two masters of self-promotion admittedly, but a wildly unfair fight all the same. One was unbeaten in 49 professional contests, the majority at the highest level, and the other, though an accomplished in MMA, was making his professional boxing debut. McGregor targeted Mayweather because he knew it was a short cut to the kind of payday he could not command in his own discipline. And Mayweather was happy to be targeted because he knew it would lead to the easiest payday of his life. Both knew that boxing would allow it to happen because there was too much money to be made to turn it down.

 

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