Boxing is dying. All of these young boxers have padded records. None of the big names ever fight each other. The UFC is so much better.
These are the things I’ve heard over the last few years and as a longtime boxing fan, it pains me to say I’ve been on this side of the fence. I’ve been wrong though, boxing isn’t dead.
It’s in a hampered state, but it now has the potential to be reinvigorated, thanks to Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia, who are both undefeated, agreeing to take the riskiest fight of their careers when they face off in Las Vegas on April 22 at a 136-pound catchweight.
I don’t think boxing will ever truly be “dead.” Max Kellerman put it best — boxing is the best sport, because if we were walking down the street and saw two random people fighting out in the street, we’d most likely stop whatever we were doing and watch. The same can’t be said for many other sports.
Boxing also currently has generational talent with the likes of Canelo Alvarez, Errol Spence, Terence Crawford, Oleksandr Usyk, Tyson Fury, Noya Inoue and Artur Beterbiev. With this amount of talent, one could imagine that boxing should be at its peak like the sport of mixed martial arts — specifically the UFC — and be one of the main attractions in all professional sports like it once was for most of the 20th century.
However, for the better part of the last decade, top fighters haven’t fought each other. If they did, it would be a couple of years after fans had begged. It has gotten so bad that even the younger boxers have started to speak out.
The glaring issue comes at the hands of promoters like Bob Arum, Oscar De La Hoya and Eddie Hearn who deprive the public of the fights they want to see. I will give credit to De La Hoya for playing a role in getting Davis vs. Garcia done, but I’ll never forget the fact that Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin was delivered in 2017, a couple of years after most of the boxing world had been begging for it. Additionally, the number of belts a fighter can obtain in boxing is a problem because multiple fighters can claim they are the champion of their division.
WBC, WBO, WBA and IBF champion, anyone? It’s all too much.
It’s easier said than done, but boxing should take a page out of the UFC playbook — the best fighting the best during their primes while the fans want it. While we know the UFC has had its own issues whether it be fighter pay or the recent betting scandal involving James Krause, a former UFC fighter and former trainer of Flyweight champion Brandon Moreno, there is one thing the UFC and its fans can say — the company on fire right now and the big UFC cards tend to deliver more often than not.
We saw Jon Jones come back from a three-year layoff at UFC 285 and submit Ciryl Gane in under two minutes to win the heavyweight championship. A month prior at UFC 284 in Australia, we saw the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter Alexander Volkanovksi go against No. 2 Islam Makhachev in a highly contested match that left many UFC fans in awe of the grit and skill displayed by both fighters.
Back in November at UFC 281 in Madison Square Garden, we saw Israel Adesanya’s dominant middleweight title run end after a standing technical knockout coming from the fists of his rival Alex Pereira in the final minutes of the fifth round. Not to mention that same card also featured Michael Chandler vs. Dustin Poirier — a fight that would end up in the running for fight of the year amongst MMA circles.
These are special moments and fights because generational talents are going at each other with everything to lose. Anything is possible in these fights where the skill level of each fighter is so high.
Simply put, UFC fans have been spoiled. Boxing fans should be spoiled too. It feels like I’ve said this for the last three years, but I hope this is the year that things start to finally change in boxing. However, this is the first year that I can say I have some glimmering hope.
When Davis squares off with Garcia, it could mark the beginning of a new chapter in boxing. A blockbuster mega fight featuring two undefeated boxers from different networks, under the age of thirty, in their physical primes? Pinch me. I must be dreaming.
Fights like these remind me that boxing isn’t dead and it’s quietly coming back. We saw an exciting grudge match between two super-middleweight stars this past weekend when David Benavidez and Caleb Plant settled their differences at MGM Grand Arena. After a unanimous decision victory, Benavidez called out Canelo Alvarez, one of boxing’s biggest superstars and the undisputed champion at super-middleweight.
Furthermore, it was reported earlier this month by USA Today Sports that Errol Spence and Terence Crawford have agreed to a purse split. I will always hold out hope for this fight, but things got out of hand quickly the last time these two were reportedly “close” to making the fight happen.
Meanwhile, Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk are most likely still discussing who gets to walk out last in their bout that will probably take place in 2030 at this rate.
On a serious note, I genuinely hope Davis and Garcia making their fight happen will set an example for the rest of boxing and its sanctioning bodies. Despite the obstacles that might be in the way, it is always possible to make a mega-fight happen as long as both sides put their egos aside and make ends meet.
The fans got robbed of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquaio going at it in their primes, which would have definitely been a better product than their fight in 2015.
There is no doubt in my mind that if Crawford or Spence were to go blow for blow in the championship rounds — or possibly be added to the other’s knockout reel after going down in dramatic fashion in their fight — the internet would explode and boxing would be a trending topic for a weekend. The same can also be said for Davis and Garcia. At the end of the day, boxing needs fights like Adesanya vs. Pereira, Usman vs. Edwards, and Volkanovski vs. Makkhachev.
So, please don’t do us how Floyd and Manny did us, Spence and Crawford. Be like Davis and Garcia and get the fight made. The boxing community is begging you.
While the golden era of boxing might be over, there could be a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s ultimately up to star fighters and their camps to cooperate with one another and get the big fights made.
Oh, and bring back HBO Boxing and 24/7 too while you’re at it.