With Boxing’s subtle but resounding bow out from the mainstream eye of America over the recent years, the question has been asked as to what or who could save the sport. Unfortunately boxing has remained the same throughout the years, but its’ presentation has become wildly inconsistent, meaning the revival of the sport lay in large part outside the ring. Yet with the Nevada State Athletic Commission sanctioning a fight dismissed by the World Boxing Association, the undertone of the Mayweather-McGregor spectacle unfolding before us is of complacency and circumvention.
Boxing great Floyd Mayweather coming out of retirement, placing his 49-0 record on the line against Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) upstart Connor McGregor sounds to be as compelling enough of a narrative as the casual onlooker would seek. However one staying issue within boxing has been the big fights either never happening or being delayed to the point of fan indifference. Mayweather-McGregor isn’t what fans want to see, but at the same time it is a fight that we can’t turn away from, which can be looked upon as an unhealthy alternative and more importantly, still a victory for boxing.
The danger this sport faces in the belief that more Mayweather-McGregor scenarios will amount to success is that this fight showcases celebrity above the art of pugilism. McGregor ranked as the most popular male fighter in 2016, while Mayweather flirted with the top spot of the most hated (popular) athletes in the world, and the expectation was that would sell. While the fight revenues are estimated to reach 500 million, the replication of Mayweather and McGregor’s celebrity status remains just as fickle a task as ever and so this shouldn’t be looked upon as the foregone formula for success.
With such a subjective judging process, specifically with the recent Jeff Horn upset over Manny Pacquiao, at the very least this upcoming fight needs a realistic review process. Unlike team sports that leave the impression of a team’s destiny being in their own hands for the most part, poor judging gives the impression that boxing caters strictly to theater rather than results.
In the realm of mainstream entertainment, particularly in the era of high streaming/piracy, the first loss for this campaign and the sport as a whole is in establishing the belief that fans will continue to flock to television screens to fund events such is this, with the price of viewing admission made for the sport’s true purists. As they would have it, the Golovkin-Alvarez September 16th bout presents a greater level of integrity over luring the mainstream UFC’s McGregor to uncharted territory to drag boxing, while battling one of the sports’ fading stars for vanity and pride’s sake back into the limelight.
Highlighting several compelling fights leading to the main event helped boxing maintain a steady viewership in years past. Today’s strategy in contrast consists of hitching the wagon to the two biggest brands and letting them race us to the proverbial promised land. While the income for many of these contests has remained high, they have done poor work in servicing the appetites of the viewers, and Mayweather-McGregor will be no exception.
Ultimately, McGregor and Mayweather will likely conclude their fight with Mayweather as the victor over a defiant, but content McGregror, having advanced their celebrity miles ahead, leaving the sport but a few mere inches past the redrawn starting point. With the majority of the new Mayweather-McGregor fans gained, pursuing the untold riches both fighters will receive, while having no interest whatsoever in any formation of a jab, cross, or hook, the line in the sand remains as distinct as ever between the sport and business of boxing.
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