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Mayweather vs Pacquiao: Is the public addicted to boxing?

Lee Cleveland Updated
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... And the fallout ensues over the disappointment of The Fight of the Century, Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao, which took place on May 2.

"It was damaging for the sport," stated boxing legend Ricky Hatton on BBC earlier this week.

"I can't imagine there is anyone out there saying they loved it."

"Considering they're two all-time greats, the money they walked away with, what the fans had to pay, it was all a bit of a letdown. Then when Manny blamed his defeat on a shoulder injury, it soured it even further."

"Boxing has UFC (The Ultimate Fighting Championship) breathing heavily down its neck and it was the first boxing match that had crossed over into the mainstream for a long time, so we needed it to be exceptional. But there were more negatives than positives."

And, as of May 19, over 30 lawsuits were filed following Pacquiao's confession he entered the bout with a serious injury.

But perhaps there's an underlying reason for the lawsuits? Forget about Manny's injury; the public was expecting Ali vs Frazier and Mayweather vs Pacquiao fell well short of the hype.


And for the 198th time since 1900, the public is disgruntled with boxing yet again.

But what very few seem to realize is the obvious.

For several weeks leading up to Mayweather vs Pacquiao, its buzz and level of interest was comparable to the NCAA Final Four, Super Bowl and World Cup.

Can UFC, NASCAR, Tennis, Golf, or NHL even come remotely close? Can the NBA Finals?

The excitement and outpouring of support for Mayweather vs Pacquiao is indicative of the public's aprreciation for boxing and when fighters come along like Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfield, Oscar De La Hoya, Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, we are all addicts. 


FACT: While boxing is not as popular worldwide as soccer, the masses love the Sweet Science because it's violent but not overly savage, offers high drama, is easy to understand and fun to watch. And it's even better when the combatants have an awesome storyline, like Mayweather, Pacquiao, Muhammad Ali and the mythical Rocky Balboa.

FACT: Nearly 5 million homes paid upwards of $100 to see two fellas fight. How many people would pay that much to order an NFL Playoff game? Quite frankly, how many Americans would forfeit that kind of greenery to watch the Super Bowl?

FACT: Those who attended the bout paid ungodly sums to be there. What other sport could command such totals?

FACT: Mayweather and Pacquiao are Highest Paid Athletes in the World this year, again

FACT: The most recognized face in the world, sans the Mona Lisa, is Muhammad Ali's.

FACT: Even in Hollywood, no other sport generates as much interest as boxing. Everybody loves Rocky Balboa, Apollo Creed and Clubber Lang and those fictional characters are as mainstream as world leaders. And what about Raging Bull, Cinderella Man, The Fighter, Million Dollar Baby, and Ali to name a few.

FACT: Southpaw, another movie about a boxer, is perhaps this summer's most anticipated film. Release date: July 24, 2015 (USA)

Mayweather vs Pacquiao, in addition to Hollywood, shows us that boxing is very much a mainstream concept. How many athletes, or celebrities in general, are capable of generating as much worldwide buzz as Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao?

If boxing is dead, what is the general state of every other sport?


What must change
Boxing is a proven winner. It's an excellent product and, as we've seen so many times, a lot people will pay good money to see it.

And while the sport, itself, is ingrained in the public consciousness, today's top fighters, sans three or four, are not. 

The sport's rules and its marketing are antiquated. The masses love the product but the package in which it's contained leaves much to be desired.


Boxing's best analogy: The ol' fashioned gift exchange
Perhaps the best analogy for boxing in the public mainstream is the typical gift exchange party at school or work. The big, beautiful nicely wrapped gifts with the pretty little bow always seem to get picked first. The recipient opens it only to be a bit disappointed by a rather mundane trinket.

Picked last, of course, is that poorly wrapped gift that looks like the handiwork of a five year old. There's no bow, tape is everywhere and the wrapping itself looks to be outdated with colors and images faded. But contained in that crusty ol' wrapping is pure gold and the best gift of them all.

Today, professional boxing is that gift.

Change the wrapping, please.


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