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Over the years, there has been a dramatic shift in what sports fans find entertaining. MMA and pro wrestling have dominated the scene, bringing over fans in droves. Boxing, one of the most respected sports in its prime, has taken a backseat recently.
It is clear that the days of Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, two fighters who helped shape boxing’s future, were over. Even with Floyd Mayweather’s decade+ of dominance, something was missing. Boxing lost a bit of its mojo.
For a time, there was fear boxing wouldn’t be able to get its groove back. It is safe to say that in the year 2018, boxing has had new life injected into it.
Out with the old, in with the new as they say. While the style may have changed, the entertainment aspect of boxing fights still holds true. Fans have been lucky to watch Miguel Cotto’s epic last fight against Sadam Ali, GGG v. Canelo Alvarez, Manny Pacquiao v. Floyd Mayweather (even if it was booked too late), Pacquiao v. Jeff Horn and Andre Ward v. Sergey Kovalev. Some of these bouts have happened in the past few months alone! Before the summer started, 2018 had some epic fights that included Deontay Wilder v. Luis Ortiz, Vasyl Lomachenko v. Jorge Linares, Daniel Jacobs v. Maciej Sulecki and Terence Crawford v. Horn.
Even a fight like Conor McGregor v. Floyd Mayweather got eyes on the sport, although that was one big money collector for the fighters. Take away the match and just the work leading up to it, and you have a dedicated system to bring the sport into the limelight.
Not convinced yet? In the next few months, we are getting GGG v. Canelo II and Anthony Joshua v. Deontay Wilder. Matchroom Boxing is going to be spreading its seed on U.S. soil while Michael Conlan is taking the sport by storm, bringing a whole new audience to the fold. Jermell Charlo is as dominant as can be while Errol Spence Jr. is changing the way we look at boxing’s welterweight division.
Don’t forget about the ladies. Once in the dark, the women of boxing are starting to share the spotlight. Heather Hardy is changing the game by working in MMA and boxing at the same time. Her resiliency and passion for both sports do not go unnoticed. You also have powerful fighters like Mikaela Mayer, Alicia Napoleon, Katie Taylor and Sarah Thomas. While they aren’t main eventing cards, these ladies always make the most of their opportunities. A recognition revolution is finally on its way in boxing. Get excited folks!
There is a change in the air, can you feel it? Boxing is no longer a sport you can pass over. Like any great underdog story (see Rocky, Cinderella Man, Creed, The Fighter, Million Dollar Baby), the rise from any kind of fall from grace pulls the heartstrings of any sensible human being.
While it doesn’t appear that the sport will become the number one value in entertainment again, it can still bring the heat. With athletes training harder than ever to be the best, and money flowing like never before, boxing has an opportunity to land a knockout within the industry. Will they be up to the challenge?