I recall being younger, and boxing being one of the major sporting attractions of the time. It seemed like a year couldn’t go by without some or other major boxing event taking place, and virtually every media outlet suddenly being locked in debate as to who the victor would be. Not that I had much interest myself, you see, but everyone around me certainly did.
Time passed, and boxing began to fall out of the spotlight. MMA came along, where kicks to opponent’s head were the norm, knockouts were frequent, and suddenly guys bopping one another with big red gloves seemed less barbaric. Mohamed Ali and Mike Tyson, previously towering legends, were no longer on the scene, and boxing had trouble finding replacement icons.
Flash-forward to the present and virtually no one is talking about boxing. And least, no one was talking about boxing until the Mayweather/McGregor fight.
A Surge of Life
I can’t recall a fight that was as spoken about, nor one that drew as much attention and controversy. An MMA fighter versus a boxer, it was almost too much to even fathom; like a volleyball champion suddenly deciding to go up against a basketball player. Two very different forms of fighting, thrown together in one ring, with only one emerging victorious.
People I didn’t know had the faintest interest in an event based around two grown men bashing one another were talking about it on Facebook. Everyone had an opinion, and had no problem appointing himself or herself as an expert. And me, of course, with so little of an opinion that I couldn’t even hope to participate in the hype. It was like being back in high school all over again.
My interest was not in who actually won the fight, but rather the fact that boxing was seeing more attention than it has had in years. The sort of all-consuming attention it had not enjoyed for a very long time. And, of course, it was attention that the sport had drastically needed, given how it had been rapidly losing popularity. A very well planned publicity stunt indeed.
And, of course, the betting aspect must have been through the roof. What better way to back up your opinion than to place a bet on it? Again, people I hadn’t known were at all interested in sports and betting were declaring their betting decisions on Facebook, stating that they were so sure one or the other fighter would be the winner they had put money on it.
It was amazing to witness, like a fever of excitement had somehow gripped the world. People were again betting on a boxing event, and I could just envision the major boxing officials sighing in relief. It is, after all, the public’s willingness to bet on a sporting event that indicates the level of interest in the sport as a whole.
Is Boxing Back?
But with the fight now over, and excitement simmered back down, is it safe to say that the boxing world has again reignited interest? Will people continue to be invested in boxing, now that the main event has passed, or will the sport return to being on a back burner, where it has been for some time?
It was obviously no accident that boxing crossed over with MMA, with the hopes being that some younger MMA fans would find something to be interested in in boxing. But did this work?
I personally can’t say. As I already mentioned, boxing seems rather tame in comparison to MMA, where the fights are a great deal more visceral and brutal. Heck, they don’t have a ring, they have an OCTAGON. If anything scares the daylights out of me, it is the fact that they need eight sides in which to beat each other up from.
If anything, I hope that boxing has regained some interest, since I think it would be a shame for one of the oldest sports in the world to fade away.
But, if we’re being completely honest, I personally feel that MMA seems to be the logical evolution of boxing, which means that boxing itself will eventually fade. It’s not to say that boxing isn’t an interesting and deceptively in-depth sport, but I just struggle to see a younger audience getting involved. Although, of course, I may be wrong. Perhaps the Mayweather/McGregor fight is exactly what was needed to rejuvenate the ancient sport.
We Need a New Rocky
It is sad to me that boxing no longer has any major, world-recognised icons. Or if it does, it can’t be a very big icon, since I’m not aware of any being around at the moment. What boxing needs is a new Rocky, and I can’t help but think that this fight has offered a potential solution to that dilemma.
McGregor, the MMA fighter thrown into the boxing ring, may have lost his match-up against Mayweather, but I’d sure be interested in seeing where he goes from here. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to see him start dominating in the boxing world, and become the new boxing icon of the modern era?