By: Dallas Orysiuk (@Chargers204)
With declining pay per view numbers, Mayweather’s retirement last year, an aging Pacquiao and Cotto, and a virtually retired Marquez; what is next for the sport we love so much? Not only are the stars retiring, but there was also speculation of unfair judging and corruption in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and a rising popularity of the UFC. Because of this, boxing is struggling right now and hanging on by a thread. You have to look no further than the fact that HBO has reduced their boxing budget, the rumors that PBC has been losing money and the most recent and horrendous PPV buys of 50 thousand for Terrence Crawford vs Viktor Postol, to see that the sport is losing the interest of casual fans.
Now we have three PPV’s coming up in the fall: Canelo Alvarez vs. Liam Smith, Manny Pacquiao vs. Jesse Vargas and Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward. The latter is a much anticipated showdown between the two best fighters in the light heavyweight division and will likely crown the pound 4 pound king. But will this PPV do big numbers? Ward is not very popular outside of Oakland, and Kovalev, even though he is a knockout machine, has not captured the interest of a huge number of casual fans. Then we have Canelo Alvarez taking on the worst belt holder in the division who is relatively unknown.
Stylistically, Manny Pacquiao vs. Jesse Vargas could prove to be entertaining, but with what will likely be a weak undercard, I cannot see this PPV breaking 500, 000 buys. Bob Arum offered Adrien Broner and Danny Garcia the Pacquiao fight, but it was rumored that both fighters turned down very large paydays of 4 million dollars. Either of these fights could have been built up and gained a lot of hype, but both fell through, and now we are stuck with Pacquiao vs. Vargas.
A lack of talent?
Boxing isn’t doing bad because of a lack of talent. There are a number of young and exciting up and coming fighters such as Vasyl Lomachenko, Errol Spence Jr., Terrence Crawford, Anthony Joshua, and Roman Gonzalez. There are also established and relatively popular fighters such as Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward. The above list sounds impressive, but promoters need to bite the bullet, swallow their pride, and start working together to make the fights the fans want to see.
The welterweight division is loaded with young, exciting and talented fighters. But until, guys like Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, Kell Brook, Shawn Porter, Amir Khan, Tim Bradley and Errol Spence Jr. start fighting each other on a regular basis, what good does their talent do for them and for boxing as a whole?
There is also the interesting heavyweight division with an aging Klitschko and Tyson Fury who emerged on the scene after dethroning Wladamir, Deontay Wilder and his knockout streak, the emergence of Anthony Joshua and the talented Luis Ortiz. If these guys would begin to fight each other, we would have some cracking matchups and everyone would be talking about the heavyweight division in boxing.
Hopefully the verbal agreement between Canelo and Golovkin holds up and we get to see them square off next September because this matchup is heavily anticipated and the fight would be certain to produce fireworks.
There are also the lighter weight classes which have produced some great matchups and hopefully they can continue with Vasyl Lomachenko, Orlando Salido, Francisco Vargas, Nicholas Walters, Gary Russell Jr., Carl Frampton, Leo Santa Cruz, Lee Selby, Nonito Donaire and Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Kovalev vs. Ward is a good start, and if we could get more matchups like this boxing’s popularity could begin to rise again. We need fights like Wilder vs. Fury, Joshua vs. Haye, Golovkin vs. Canelo, Lomachenko vs. Walters, Spence vs. Brook, and Thurman vs. Garcia.
With all of this talent, and some potential blockbuster matchups, boxing has the potential to rise in popularity again, but promoters need to start working together and boxing fans need to continue to call for these fights. Which young superstar do you think will rise and bring boxing back in popularity? And which division can produce the most exciting matchups to bring back the interest in this sweet science?by