Don't Show Again Yes, I would!

Why aren’t big battles being fought? Partly because fans are now rooting for promoters and managers

Posted on 02/12/2023

Written by: Shawn Cross

Jack Dempsey, the legendary heavyweight champion of the 1920s, has gone three years without defending his title. Needless to say, he lost that title to Jenny Tunney upon his belated return. Likewise, John L. Sullivan, the first modern heavyweight champion, has gone three years without defending his title. When Sullivan finally returned, in 1892, he was defeated by the up-and-comer “Gentleman” Jim Corbett. point here? Famous fighters rarely locking in their chosen profession is nothing new — but there are also huge risks associated with sitting out large portions of their careers, such as losing a world championship.

The truth is that we are at a point where the big fights simply don’t happen in boxing. Spence Crawford? Negotiations failed. Fury Usyk? The negotiations drag on. David Garcia? Once again, negotiations are delayed (as the pessimists start to think). The end of boxing? No. Is it a sign of a dysfunctional sport? definitely. People can reasonably argue that “these things are just part of the business” all they want. The entire bureaucracy that is the boxing industry now looks appalling. It affects the masses.

Of course, we can go on forever talking about boxing losing popularity. But we’ve discussed it so much that it’s not worth continuing at this point. We know that most Americans have no idea who Canelo Alvarez, Tyson Fury, Ryan Garcia, and Errol Spence are. We don’t need another hand contemplating a piece of thought that focuses on such a grim reality. The focus should now be on the remaining boxing fan base, a fan base that is being neglected.

But more importantly, is the division. While no one can argue that Western society isn’t currently in a very fragmented state (when was the last time there was a TV show beyond the Super Bowl that everyone watched or at least knew about?), the boxing fanbase itself seems to find it odd to a degree. From rest in the case of split boxing. There seems to be a sense of belonging being part of a loyal fanbase of Team Haymon, Team Arum, Team De La Hoya, Team Hearn, or…

The truth is, the bizarre phenomenon of promotional loyalty keeps promoters, managers, and networks from fighting the biggest fights. Large fan bases on social media provide boxing powerhouses a cushion to fall back on when bouts people want don’t pay off. Moreover, it provides these fans with a sense of purpose. Free time can be spent going back and forth with members of The Other Side on social media rather than actually watching high-end matches.

If the fiasco of the Spence-Crawford negotiations last year has taught us anything, it is that the current fragmented state of boxing is not helping the boxers themselves. While Spence and Crawford will likely become Hall of Fame inductees after their retirement, the chances of either fighter becoming a legend in the sport are much lower now than they would have been had the two men actually squared off against each other in the ring. This is very bad for the fighters, fans and especially the sport of boxing.

Even the fans eventually move on from cheerleading, after all.


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