Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao had lofty expectations to meet after years of stalled negotiations and several months worth of hype when the fight was actually made. For boxing's Fight of the Century to live up to its billing, at least one of these two outcomes needed to happen:
1.) The defensive-minded counterpuncher in Mayweather would have had to completely change his style and open himself up to a firefight with Pacquiao, something Mayweather doesn't even do with far inferior opponents.
2.) Pacquiao would have had to avoid playing right into Mayweather's style of lowering his opponent's offensive output, as well as routinely exploit the tiniest of tiny holes in Mayweather's historically fantastic defense.
Cyborg wants to fight Rousey at 140 lbs
Invicta FC featherweight champion Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino once again asked to face women’s bantamweight champ Ronday Rousey in a catchweight fight at 140-pounds.
Rather predictably, neither happened, Pacquiao never came close to beating Mayweather, and there was little drama in the outcome. Casual observers who were primarily not regular followers of boxing had the feeling of immense disappointment following the massive build-up, particularly the MMA contingent who once again used the relative lack of brawling action and excitement in this fight as an example of boxing's death and MMA's superiority.
The real winner of the #MayPac fight is clear - MMA.— Andrea Canales (@soccercanales) May 3, 2015
Tonight proved why boxing is dying. Yes, there's strategy but there is just as much, if not more in MMA. @ufc was the real winner tonight.— Graham Coffelt (@GrahamCoffelt) May 3, 2015
I'm glad I watched Mayweather / Pacquiao because it reminded me of how much I'd rather be watching the UFC.— Jim Norton (@JimNorton) May 3, 2015
UFC just won that fight....— Harry Shum Jr (@HarryShumJr) May 3, 2015
The real winner of last night was MMA. Personally really enjoyed the clinic Floyd put on, but if you throw in TDs, BJJ, Muay Thai etc..— Dean Bowers (@WhyAlwaysDean) May 3, 2015
Sounds like the real winner last night was MMA.— Keith Minier (@keithminier) May 3, 2015
2. Dana White has to be happy that the mayweather fight played out like it did. Boxing is dead.— George D (@GeorgeD51) May 3, 2015
Pretty sure boxing is officially dead— Trevor Smith (@SmithT008) May 3, 2015
Boxing is officially dead. It's all about UFC now— Cam Haggerty (@CamHaggerty5) May 3, 2015
For the record, the UFC's Twitter account retweeted the thoughts of Norton, Fox, and Shum Jr onto its timeline.
Yep, a $72 million gate -- higher than the combined gates of the last 2 1/2 years worth of UFC PPVs combined -- despite obscene ticket prices and the possibility of 4 million PPV buys even priced at $100 definitely sounds like a sport on its death bed and a major win for the UFC and MMA!
There's nothing wrong with disliking boxing and even more specifically disliking last night's fight. Pacquiao has an exciting style and Mayweather engulfed that with relative ease, and not everyone is going to be enthralled by or appreciate the technical mastery or defensive prowess of Floyd, much like the "GSP is boring" memes of yesteryear.
But there's simply one question I have for those who felt Saturday night was the moment to champion MMA and write up boxing's obituary for the umpteenth time last night - Why?
Why are MMA fans so fixated on the supposed failure and death of boxing? This is a pointless, tiresome, and fictitious war almost seemingly founded on a historically heightened level of insecurity that dates back to the days when MMA was painted as "human cockfighting". Why is it so important to paint boxing as inferior instead of just being a different version of combat sport, just like competitive grappling, kickboxing, Muay Thai, and wrestling?
Remarks such as "UFC/MMA is the real winner" come with a heavy dose of ignorance of the sport of boxing, which has had more than its fair share of successful fights and fighters independent of Mayweather and Pacquiao. Just to cite a few examples from the past two years:
- Carl Froch vs. George Groves II - May 30th, 2014. WBA and IBF super-middleweight champion Carl Froch had a controversial stoppage win over George Groves in November 2013 in a fight he was arguably losing. They had an immediate rematch booked in the famed Wembley Stadium in London, which produced a sellout attendance of 77,000 and broke all attendance and gate records for British boxing. The big fight ended in a big KO for Froch. In the United States, HBO averaged 830,000 viewers despite the early afternoon start time. In the UK, where the pay-per-view market is relatively scared, Sky Box Office had a reported 900,000 buys at the cost of $25 US, which is an increase from the country's standard PPV costs.
- Saul Alvarez vs. Austin Trout - April 20th, 2013. Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez proved himself to be exactly what the description entailed, as he sold out the Alamodome in San Antonio for his junior middleweight fight against Austin Trout, who came in with an undefeated record and off a big win over Miguel Cotto. Canelo scored a knockdown and eventual decision win over Trout, pulling in an attendance of 39,472 and a Showtime average of 1.1 million viewers.
- Bermane Stiverne vs. Deontay Wilder - January 17th, 2015. I know what you're thinking, "Who and who?". American Olympic bronze medalist Deontay Wilder became the first US heavyweight champion for any major sanctioning body since 2007, and Showtime attracted a peak number of 1.34 million and averaged out to be the 4th highest-rated bout in the channel's history.
- Gennady Golovkin vs. Martin Murray - February 21st, 2015. "GGG", as he is affectionately known, is the best middleweight in the world and has finished all but 3 of his opponents in 32 pro fights. In his main event vs. England's Martin Murray in Monaco, the Kazakh picked Murray apart and forced an 11th round stoppage after knocking him down 3 times prior. Golovkin's fight was broadcast on HBO with peak viewership of 938,000 for a daytime event and 1.4 million on the primetime replay. His previous bout against Marco Antonio Rubio averaged 1.3 million viewers in 2014 and was the 2nd most watched non-PPV bout in the US last year.
- Wladimir Klitschko vs. Bryant Jennings - April 25th, 2015. While UFC 186 was going on, heavyweight kingpin Wladimir Klitschko made his first appearance in the United States since an absolute stinker of a fight against Sultan Ibragimov in 2008. Klitschko's punch-and-hug style and the general lack of well-known opponents contributed to his fights being held exclusively in Europe and not even televised on HBO. Klitschko was able to keep his dominance over the division going with a decision win over the American, but the real surprise was his drawing capabilities after such a long time away from US shores. More than 17,000 turned up to see him at Madison Square Garden and HBO had a strong 1.7 million rating for the event, which is the highest mark for HBO since 2012. Aside from that, Klitschko is a major draw in Germany and routinely has sold out German soccer stadiums and the O2 World Arena.
Next week -- NEXT WEEK! -- HBO will televise a junior middleweight fight between Canelo Alvarez and American heavy-hitter James Kirkland at Minute Maid Park, a 40,000 seat baseball stadium in Houston. StubHub ticket sales suggest that only 2,000+ tickets are left on sale. If the sport is dead then someone needs to alert the attendees, because this would mark Canelo's 2nd stadium show in as many years. The UFC has held exactly the same number of stadium shows in its 22 year history.
Even extending beyond HBO and Showtime, Al Haymon's new Premier Boxing Champions venture has placed boxing back on network television after multiple decades of HBO and Showtime having a stranglehold on the majority of the sport's top competitors. It's early days but NBC's ratings have proven to be comparable to that of UFC on FOX shows, however duly noting that the UFC still holds the edge in the key 18-49 demographic. Top Rank has just struck a deal with TruTV for Friday night broadcasts, which means that live boxing is available for viewing on CBS, NBC, ABC, Spike TV, HBO, Showtime, ESPN, TruTV, and even BET via their time-buy deal with Roc Nation.
If you want to point to something that is dying for boxing, it's the pay-per-view market. Neither HBO nor Showtime ran a PPV this year prior to Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, and do not have another one lined up in the next several months. But the decline of the boxing PPV has been almost a benefit to the consumer, as promoters have de-emphasized the quantity of PPVs over time and will likely continue to do so once Mayweather and Pacquiao are retired.
Boxing isn't going anywhere. It cannot be denied that national public interest in the sport has taken a considerable hit as the decades have passed by, but the repeated premature declarations of its death have got to go. MMA fans perpetuate this more than any other combat sports fanbase, perhaps parroting UFC president Dana White ad nauseam. If it's not discussing boxing's death, it's endless fantasizing over "How would a boxer fare in an MMA fight?" as fighter after fighter boldly states how quickly they'd beat Floyd Mayweather. This is the type of inferiority complex mentality that makes the MMA world continue to look like the attention-craving little brother of combat sports. Boxing and MMA are not in competition against each other and they are perfectly capable of co-existing as they have been for years, and it's foolish to think last night's big event spells an entire sport's imminent doom, especially when the facts and figures suggest otherwise.