John C. Longton III
The sport of boxing will feature a fight that could bring in revenue upwards of $300 million on May 2, 2015, which shatters the record for the highest paid fight in any format.
Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao have agreed in principle to a fight that has been brewing for ages and some ask: why hasn’t this matchup taken place years ago? With Mayweather and Pacquiao at the tail end of their careers, aging 38 and 36 respectively, you wouldn’t expect this to be the fight that would be the record setter. The fact of the matter is boxing needs this fight desperately.
The MGM Grand Hotel and Casino sold out of the fight tickets within fifteen minutes of them going on sale. The fighters have a combined record of 104 wins, 5 losses and 2 draws. The five losses and two draws belong to Pacquiao. This seems like its going to be a fight for the ages, but some ask is it too late?
When the UFC was founded in 1993, boxing was in its prime and few paid attention to the mixed martial art sport. A lot of people believed that it was too barbaric and wasn’t a product for everyone to consume. It took a U.S. Congressman to step in and change the sport forever.
Back in the late 90’s, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) saw a raw video of UFC and was appalled. He wrote a letter to all 50 state governors asking that they ban the violent sport. 36 states complied, including New York.
After the call for the ban on the sport, the UFC has gone over an extreme makeover of rule changes and the implementation of weight classes so it could appeal the public and seem like a less violent sport.
Now, UFC and Boxing are both battling for viewership and, even though they are two different sports, both sides are trying new ways to get people interested. In today’s market, sports have to evolve with the times. Sometimes it takes going back to what has worked if you have gotten away from it and boxing has done just that.
Boxing is taking an old new approach by airing some of Pay Per View worthy matches on primetime network television. NBC is facilitating this shot in the arm and has made Al Michaels the host of the show. Michaels is a hall of fame sports announcer and has called all type of events including Super Bowls and The Miracle on Ice. NBC also hired Marv Albert and Ray Leonard to cover the event. With this all star lineup, Premier Boxing Championship (PBC) series hopes to attract a younger market to the sport that would normally watch the UFC.
“I think UFC is a relatively young company. Still has a lot of growing to do. Boxing has been around forever,” said Mike Faragon, a local professional boxer out of Guilderland. “I respect anyone who fights, but boxing is a science if done right.”
Faragon, who is more of a boxing purist, was around 10 years old when he started taking Muay Thai. Faragon chose boxing over MMA when he was younger. He said, “When I knew I wanted to pursue fighting, boxing paid more. If anyone disagrees have them take a look at the Mayweather Pacquiao fight. It’s all about the hype. They waited for a reason,” said Faragon.
Some fans are tired of boxing and like MMA better because there are more than just a couple ways to win a fight. Submissions play a huge role in determining the outcome in a fight. In boxing, either you win by a K.O. or a decision after a long fight. The UFC is usually a much quicker experience and there are many different fighting styles or techniques that fighters will use to get an edge on their opponent. Society can relate more to a MMA fight because it resembles a real fight more than boxing does. Some fighters even choose MMA because of their street fighting experience.
“I grew up in the South Bronx. I had to fight all of the time. Got in trouble a few times. I met some good dudes that introduced me to MMA and jiu jitsu,” said Johnny Resto, an amatuer mixed martial artist. “MMA helped me change my life around.” Resto said “It’s not that Ive decided to go with one or the other. You need boxing skills in MMA. Thats what stand up is. I’m a grappler.” Resto channels his street fighting and jiu jitsu skills into a positive way to get off the streets and pave a fighting career.
Society as a whole, just like Resto, is moving more towards MMA and has regressed from boxing even though at the top of both sports, the money isn’t even close. Some people say that the Mayweather vs Pacquiao fight could be the last great fight in boxing for quite sometime. Is it because we are becoming more barbaric as a society? Or is it because MMA attracts more athletes and is curbed for more of a younger crowd?