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Why boxing has thrived and continues to maintain its edge of appeal over MMA

Boxingchronicles addresses the haters and skeptics who claim the sweet science has fallen prey to MMA!

After Mayweather vs. Marquez outsold UFC 103: Franklin vs. Belfort as the two events went head to head in their respective PPV telecasts last Saturday night, there are still many observers who will debate that Ultimate Fighting (UFC) as well as the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) have surpassed the sport of boxing in mainstream popularity. 

Arguments that immediate come to the forefront are that UFC has generated a greater total PPV revenue than the sport of boxing has, most notably this past year.  Critics will also say that boxing only has a few stars carrying the sport at this time, those stars being Floyd Mayweather Jr, Manny Pacquiao, and probably to a lesser degree, Miguel Cotto.

Let's get right to this, shall we?? The reason why the UFC PPV totals for the year are as such is only because UFC televises practically all of their events on PPV, leaving fans no choice but to pay to see them. Cable and television networks such as HBO, Showtime, and ESPN all televise at least three live cards a month for an entire world, let alone a nation, to view and enjoy.

Athletes in boxing still get paid more, their events generate greater live gates, and in the time frame it takes for UFC to promote and televise their cards on PPV, boxing has already shown [between all the networks combined] about ten live fights. While boxing has not quite generated as much PPV revenue this year as the UFC has, there are still networks and other outlets to broadcast its events. Therefore, boxing is not going to stage nearly quite as many PPV telecasts as the UFC does. 

Skeptics of the sweet science's popularity also claim that PPV is what has killed boxing. Other sports like football and baseball are always on free television, nobody has ever witnessed a PPV Superbowl, and that is what makes those sports vastly more popular.  Yet, those sames detractors use the argument that MMA  has risen above boxing because there are more PPV events, and as a result, greater PPV numbers. So can somebody please clarify, how exactly does PPV kill boxing but help an entity such as the UFC, which is a relatively new addition to the enterprise of MMA??

There is a logical reason why a majority of the combat sports fans paid to see Money May's return to the ring rather than UFC 103; that is because they have been privledged to watch Money May, back when he was merely known as Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather, when he fought on HBO World Championship boxing over the past 10 years as he was making a name for himself while racking up victories.  Therefore, fans have grown accustomed to watching Money May in action and they can relate to him whether it's a positive or negative vibe that is causing that attraction.  Oscar Delahoya made a name for himself much the same way by fighting on HBO World Championship boxing, just as stars such as Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Roy Jones, Felix Trinidad, and Shane Mosley have also done over the years.  As a result, when you put UFC against boxing on the same night, statistics have generally proven that boxing is the preferred viewing of choice.

UFC fans and experts contest that UFC 103 was a throw away card, featuring nothing more in the main event than a non-title affair between two fighters, Rich Franklin and Vitor Belfort, who are way past their respective primes, one of which has not fought in the UFC since before UFC Explosion.  What they won't tell you is that many considered Mayweather vs. Marquez a throw away fight itself, considering you had a former pound for pound king who is not exactly viewed by his critics as a crowdpleaser inside the ring, facing lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez [naturally two weight classes lighter], who is also a counter puncher by nature. Respectable boxing journalists and fans labeled this as a tune-up fight for Mayweather, complaining that he was a bully who was picking on the skilled, but nevertheless, smaller man. 

Everyone this reporter talks to, from die hard boxing fans to the average, casual sports fan, wants to see Mayweather against Pacquiao, Mosley, or Cotto.  Franklin vs. Belfort was not a super fight, but neither was Mayweather vs. Marquez. In fact, Team Mayweather originally expressed an interest in putting this fight on HBO World Championship Boxing on the basis that it was a tune up, come back type of fight. Due to Mayweather's demand and market value, the fight had absolutely no choice but to be distributed on PPV.

Given how frequently UFC PPVs have been sold, versus the number of boxing PPVs that are being shown, by now people should be well enough acquainted with UFC to the point at which Mayweather vs. Marquez should not have outsold the UFC 103 by over 600,000 PPV buys. Even for a card that was lackluster, yours truly surely would've expected the loyalty to the UFC to be strong enough to make this a closer race. The fact that UFC shows just about all of their events on PPV will actually spell their demise sooner or later.

Boxingchronicles is not here to diminish or disregard the reputation of MMA, but rather to silence the critics who claim that boxing is dying and has fallen prey to MMA.  Such sentiments clearly are not true and should be dismissed.  In response to those who claim boxing is boring and MMA is full of excitement, there have been plenty of UFC events which have also failed to live up to expectations. That happens in any sport; MMA is not exception.   Following UFC 97, President Dana White shamefully felt obligated to apologize to the press when UFC pound for pound king Anderson Silva turned in a less than stellar performance that was anything but crowd pleasing, unanimously outpointing Thales Leites in the UFC 97 PPV headliner.

White was quoted as saying:

I personally apologize for what happened tonight…You guys know this is not what the UFC was built on. This is not the way fights usually go…I’m personally unhappy with the whole fight…I did not like the fight at all, period, on either side…I’ve never not wanted to come to a press conference, and I didn’t want to come to this one…I’m in the business of selling fights, and I think I’m pretty good at it. But I’m going to have a hard time letting people know that, ‘I promise, his next one is going to be good.’ I need to talk to him (Anderson Silva) and figure out what’s going on and why this is happening…In Chicago (after the Patrick Cote fight at UFC 90), it was like, ‘Listen, everybody has a bad night…You name all the greats that have ever played any game in the history of playing games, every guy has an off night.’ That night, how upset [Silva] was and all the flak he got, I honestly thought he was going to come back strong…We run a fight company, and when guys don’t fight, we sit down (with them) and have a conversation on why they’re not fighting…This is what I do. It’s like having any other business and the guy doesn’t come out and perform at work…Anderson Silva has the talent and the skill, in my opinion – this is just my opinion – to stop anybody in the 185-pound division. When he’s on and lets his hands and feet go, there [aren't] too many things people can do about it…When he leg-kicks people, people spin around in circles. When he hits people, people don’t want to get hit again. When he lets these things go, people don’t like it. Again, I just don’t feel he has let them go like he can. You know me. You ask me a question, you’re going to get the answer whether you like it or not. That’s how I feel about it…He’s still the champ…There’s still no way you can deny that this guy is the best fighter in the world. I can honestly say I didn’t like his fight tonight. I was unhappy with it, whatever it is. But I’ll tell you right now, he’s the best…Fedor (Emelianenko) is not the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. These guys continue to fight the best. Fedor’s at a buffet somewhere in Russia. So until this guy decides to get in shape, take it serious and consistently fight the best in the world, for you guys to even think about calling him the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world is insane.”
One thing is certain.  Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer did not feel it was necessary to ridicule Mayweather for how he elected to fight enroute to his unanimous decision victory over Marquez, as he was too busy boasting about the statistics of the one million plus PPV buys that his event generated.  To those who continue to insist that boxing has seen its sunset, White is facing a serious up hill climb if he is going to charge $40 a piece for cards like UFC 103 and UFC 97 and stage press conferences to apologize for the boredom that his most skilled and successful performer caused the audience. UFC is too new for that type of negative press, so as a result, it can not afford black eyes like that when it's up against a sport that's thrived for over 100 years and has more memorable fights as well as more memorable athletes and champions. 

There are not that many Floyd Mayweather's, Manny Pacquiao's, Miguel Cotto's, Shane Mosley's, Oscar De la hoya's or Evander Holyfield's in MMA or any other sport for that matter.  MMA has a long way to go before it can produce a star, such as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Joe Louis, or Marvin Hagler.  Those are recognizable names whose careers spanned across numerous eras on the basis that the sport was able to thrive that long.