Sunday, May 5, 2013

AZ's Slant on Sunday - The Ultimate Slugfest

The one thing I remember about my Dad when I was younger was how he would sit in his rocking chair and watch Friday Night Fights. As time progressed, my older brother got him into MMA and he became interested in that. This would have been something interesting to talk with him about, that's for sure.

Saturday night was declared Fight Night in Las Vegas as Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. took on Robert "the Ghost" Guerrero. After being away from the ring for a year, many had expected the fight to be extremely exciting due to the spice and fire from Guerrero. After 12 rounds, loads of strategy, and hard offense, Mayweather won by unanimous decision and increased his fight record to 44-0. Many people had noted how Mayweather had played a safe, defensive fight and used strategy and an extra cheerleading boost from his father at ringside. Whatever it was, it certainly worked.

One major thing I had noticed was that because it was a major title fight involving two of the best boxers of today and that there was a backstory behind both fighters, estimates on total pay-per-view buys and viewership is expected to be extremely high. These factors rehash a theory that I have stored up in the noggin' for quite a long time: Over the past several years, the world of Mixed Martial Arts has been outselling and outclassing the boxing universe due to points such as frequent main-event carding and the overall amount of household names involved in the product.

Without a doubt, the biggest MMA business around is UFC, headed by president Dana White. In its 20 years of existence, it has been known as a source of display for different fighting arts, a source of controversy due to lack of rules in the beginning (some guys wore sneakers...dead serious), and its surge in the mid-00's through reality television and breakthrough to mainstream media audiences. Because of the atmosphere and degree of action contained in an MMA event, it became extremely popular in a short time. While it hasn't exactly been measured to a huge extent, MMA has become more of a household name as far as consistency in the United States than boxing.

With Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s successful title defense on Saturday night, could this be the beginning of the rebirth of mainstream boxing in North America?

I'm not a huge fan of neither boxing nor MMA. Off of the top of my head, I can only name four active major boxers: Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Sergio Martinez, and Bernard Hopkins. However, I can tell you a lot more names involved in UFC. There are four major boxing organizations in the world, and numerous events are held all over the world. The big difference between these guys and UFC is that not many of these events are televised and most knowledge of events are spread through word-of-mouth or through popular boxing outlets. Recently, ESPN 2 has revived Friday Night Fights on their programming, and different boxers from around the world are getting more mainstream exposure to boxing fans old and new. This can be a massive victory for boxing, as it is shown more frequently to audiences and can be considered "not dead" to the uninformed.

In the same vein as the frequency of seeing televised events and knowing who is fighting who, there is a well-publicized pay-per-view event that occurs every month. There are also well-promoted televised events (with thanks to FOX Sports) that occur every so often between these PPV events. You don't really hear about any major boxing events unless if it's a major title bout--which don't often occur as frequently due to the possibility of boxing matches occurring outside of North America--or if it's a storied fight featuring well-known and marketable names (in this recent case, Mayweather).

With these facts set straight, it's time to face the overall verdict of this bout between Boxing and MMA--this is a business and corporate-driven world, and MMA-giant UFC is currently in the driver seat.
The boxing business is still based strictly on sport and basic media attention. In today's media-driven society, UFC incorporates all media outlets like a sports business normally does and makes the best out of it. Heck, you will see UFC action figurines in stores before you will ever see a figure for a boxing icon--unless if it's memorabilia or something. The boxing industry is still very old school in the sense of using social media and promotions; while it still has it's glamour and glitz during the event itself, they still use the older approach to attract fans and outside viewers.

While this case may be different for people outside of the United States and Canada, boxing can't truly be considered a "dead sport," as it still holds firm as an Olympic sport and is still extremely popular in South American and in some regions of Europe and Asia. However, if you're looking for an undisputed champion in winning over the North American hearts, you have to give the title to MMA. Since UFC has become a massive conglomerate, they have won this region in the business sector and gaining sponsorship and viewership. However, boxing culture is still king in the Eastern Hemisphere and in South America. I'm not partial to either of them, but it's a dog-eat-dog world, and these two Kings of Fighters will be duking it out for a long while. It's all about culture, legacy, and honor, and both of these schools have a slough of both. It should be a nice, long fight to the finish.