The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire
|The State of Boxing: David Kirsch|
THE REAL STATE OF THE GAME AS SEEN BY A FAN: What is wrong with the sport of boxing and how to fix it.
1. The problem is: There are too many ranking organizations. There are at least, eight, if not more ranking organizations. Between the WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO, NABF, USBA, and so on and so forth, no one can keep track of who is considered to be a legitimate contender or champion. Of course, there are three organizations which are considered to be legitimate, those being the WBC, WBA, & IBF and that is two ranking organizations too many.
How to fix the problem: This is simple yet, complicated. Having only one ranking organization will centralize boxing rankings. Once the goal of centralization is attained then the boxing fans will have a general idea of who is considered to be a contender and who is a champion. this is the simple answer. The problem remains, who is to determine these rankings. I don't know if there is a definitive answer as to the who's and how's of implementing a plan of this nature. Certainly, we can do no worse than those who have preceded, those personages being: Mike Jacobs, Jim Norris, Bob Arum, Don King.
2. The problem is: There are also too many belts and titles. This problem is closely related to the aforementioned problem with the sport. There are so many belts and titles that no one cares anymore. For example, imagine two boxing fans in a conversation:
Fan One: "Hey! What's His Name is fighting for the (September 4th, Down the Street Belt) in the Super Junior Middle Division."
Fan Two: "Who? For the what? Oh, Heck! It's a fight. Let's go see it."
Pardon me boxing organizations, but your average boxing fan does not care about titles or belts. They care about seeing a good fight. The thinking behind giving almost every fight a belt or title was that these belts and titles would somehow generate more revenue. Bad plan. Instead it has had a confusing effect on the fans and has generally created an uncaring feeling amongst the fans. The message, in short, is no more revenue is generated if the fights are not good matches even if there is a belt or title at stake.
How to fix the problem: This is really simple. There doesn't have to be a million belts and titles. Just make good matches and the fans will show up.
3. The problem is: There are too many weight classes. Boxing has not been enhanced by having 16 divisions. Far be it from me to be a primitivist, but I believe that the Sport must go back to having only eight divisions. Those being: Heavyweights, Light heavyweights, Middleweights, Welterweights, Lightweights, Featherweights, Bantamweights, & Flyweights.
How to fix the problem: Get rid of the "juniors" and "supers." For example there is no reason that a good fighter at 154 lbs. cannot beat a fighter at 160 lbs. It is a simple matter of training and preparation.
4. The problem is: The time of the Weigh In. It is ridiculous to have the weigh in several days to a week before a fight. It allows a fighter an unfair advantage to weigh in at the weight limit for the division and later put on as much as fifteen pounds or more in order to gain an advantage. It also allows the less disciplined fighter to come in sloppy, bloated, with a tire around his waist. No one wants to watch the overweight and undertrained fighter.
How to fix the problem: The weigh in must be the day of the fight. Preferably about two hours before the actual bout. This forces the less than diligent pugilist to stay more than five feet away from the nearest bucket of fried chicken or cheeseburgers or whatever else might drastically alter his physique.
5. The Problem is: The Ten Point Must Scoring System and Judging has been corrupted. The ten point must is garbage. No matter what kind of scoring system boxing has is irrelevant if the judges have already decided who has won the fight before the bout begins. It is hard enough for a journeyman fighter to win on the road. There is no need to make it any harder.
How to fix the problem: Going back to the rounds system is probably a pretty good idea. A fighter either wins a round or he doesn't, end of story. The referee should always be scoring a fight because he is closest to the action. Two ring judges and a referee should score every fight.
6. The problem is: Many referees don't know, or wantonly ignore, the fighting style of the fighters.
How to fix the problem: For instance, If a fighter fights a cross-armed style know what this entails and alter your refereeing accordingly. It is up to both combatants to be ready to defend themselves at all times. It is not the referee's job to defend a particular fighter.
7. The problem is: What is a body shot and what is a low blow? The belt line has always been the determinant of the difference between body shots and low blows. Unfortunately, different fighters wear their trunks in different places. It is hard not to land a low blow on a fighter who wears his trunks around his neck-line. Unfortunately, many fighters do this to protect themselves not only from good body-shots but, also more diligent training. No doubt it is hard work to be in the gym and train, but that is part of the job of being a professional fighter; a very important part.
How to fix the problem: A universal belt line rule. The belt line should only be half way through the navel, no higher! This will allow for fighters to throw legitimate body shots without fear of disqualification. It also forces the less diligent boxer to focus on his training. One word: "Sit Ups." Hey! It worked for Marvin Hagler!
8. The problem is: Fights are too short to truly test a boxer's endurance level.
How to fix the problem: Bring back fifteen round championship fights and twelve round non-championship fights. Again this puts more pressure on the fighters to concentrate on their training regimen. Training is almost always what separates a winner from a loser.
9. The problem is: The accessibility of the sport is dwindling. It is somewhat surprising that in this day of cable television and satellite TV that the sport of boxing has very few television venues. One term can explain this "Pay Per View." PPV has completely ruined boxing's fan base. It is because of PPV that many children dream about growing up to be some hillbilly clown in tights, with a raspy voice flying from ringposts instead of dreaming of growing up to be the next Joe Louis or Sugar Ray Robinson. Even the most rabid boxing fan hesitates to pay forty bucks to watch the Michelin Tire Man attempt to pound on somebody who once held the title for three days.
How to fix the problem: During the 1950's boxing was televised on several networks. This continued until the mid 1960's. During the 1970's closed circuit broadcasts dominated the boxing scene, but the networks still played delayed broadcasts. Network televised boxing enjoyed a rebirth during the mid 1980's (The Mike Tyson Era)albeit a short lived rebirth. Today, networks have all but forgotten about the sport of boxing. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with PPV when the sport is healthy and there is enough marquis value in the sport, but when the sport is ailing and the fan base has decreased significantly, PPV seems more like a vulture poised to feed on carrion. In short, boxing needs the networks. It needs the viewer base that only networks can reach. Perhaps it is true that the fighters and all others concerned can make more money from PPV broadcasts, but for how long. Remember 50% of nothing is still nothing.
10. The problem is: Who said that three fights per year made someone a great fighter? There are champions out there today that believe that having three fights per year make them a part of an elite group of boxers demarcated by the slogan "best pound for pound." This is an insult to the fans and to the sport itself. When you stop to think that Sugar Ray Robinson (The true pound for pound best) averaged between seven to eight fights per year, in a career that spanned twenty-six years, even the best of today's fighters truly pale in comparison.
How to fix the problem: The only way to fix this problem is for the individual fighters to choose to be busy and concerned with fighting rather than worrying about commercial endorsements, or fear of being beaten.
11. The problem is: Three losses does not a career make or break. Most of the great fighters had many losses. It was just that they had more victories than losses that made them great. Sugar Ray Robinson had 19 losses. Jake LaMotta also had 19 losses. Rocky Graziano had 10 and Archie Moore had 26. Sometimes losses are more important than wins because loses tend to teach the fighter more about his strengths and weaknesses. Three losses are just that, three losses. Just because a fighter has had three losses should not mean that his career should be over or that he is any less marketable.
How to fix the problem: Perception of the sport is everything. In days past fighting was a way of life and geographically regional. Each region had its favorite son and the fans supported their fighter win or lose. Today much of this regionality is lost to commercialization of the sport and fighters tend to fight in one or two places at most; Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Some of the regionality must be brought back into the sport and fighters need to fight, wins and losses being irrelevant. The opinion that three losses end a career will shift in the minds of the fans and the sportswriters who cover the sport.
This is the true "state of the game" at the dawn of a new century. In short, Boxing is in bad shape. It needs help from all of its fans from the occasional "fight-goer" to the promoters and sportswriters. I'm not intending to say that if all of the aforementioned items are followed to the letter that the sport of boxing will instantly be cured, but at least it might be a step in the right direction.
David Warren Kirsch
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