Random Rants: The Four Biggest Problems with Boxing

Saturday’s fight between Paul Williams and Sergio Martinez was one of 2009’s best. It was a highly competitive scrap between two amazingly skilled pugilists. I scored the bout 115-113 for Martinez, but there were enough close rounds that I could easily see a close decision going to Williams. I had no problems with Lynne Carter scoring it 115-113 for Williams and Julie Lederman scoring the fight a 114-114 draw. The third official judge, Pierre Benoist, scored the fight 119-110 for Williams — that’s just some pathetic scoring right there. According to Benoist, Martinez only won one round the entire fight, which is laughable to anyone that actually saw the contest. While the overall scoring wasn’t as bad as Ali Funeka getting jobbed out of a title the previous Saturday, Benoist’s scorecard illustrates one of boxing’s biggest problems. Let’s take a look a the four major reasons boxing isn’t as prominent as it was in the ’70s and ’80s.

Three Blind Mice

1) Inept and/or Corrupt Judges — Boxing is one of the few sports where an athlete can put on a superior performance and lose. Using the recent Ali Funeka vs. Joan Guzman fight as an example, it was pretty clear that Funeka beat the crap out of Guzman for 75 percent of the fight. For some reason, the bout was scored a majority draw. Fights like that are such a turnoff to fans. Why would you want to watch someone put forth the effort of a lifetime only to have it decimated by three blind judges? Sadly, this is probably the least of boxing’s problems.

2) Sanctioning Bodies — The WBC, WBA, WBO, and IBF are generally recognized as the four major sanctioning bodies in boxing. Each group has its own champion and rankings. For the most part, each organization sucks. All too often these groups post questionable rankings and declare unworthy mandatory contenders for their champions. Sometimes they’ll create “super” champions, recognizing a title holder that has also won a belt from another group; this means that a weight division can have two champions — a “super” champion and a regular champion. Ultimately, it’s just a lame ploy to extract more sanctioning fees from more boxers.

Adding even more confusion is that fact that many people recognize Ring Magazine’s champions as the legitimate ones. So yeah, the sanctioning bodies or so inept and corrupt that a magazine has to sort through the muck to tell the people which boxers are really the best. That’s more than a bit ridiculous…but wait, there’s more!

Don King Prizefighter

3) Promoters — In America, a handful of promoters control the action in boxing. Unfortunately, things get too personal. If promoter A hates fighter B, then there’s a great chance that the former will never pair any of his fighters with the latter. That’s just crap that deprives fans of match-ups they really want to see.

Furthermore, most boxing promoters don’t really promote in the traditional sense. It’s too easy for them to accept a huge site fee from a Las Vegas casino and only worry about the television ratings; since the casino controls the box office, almost all of the good seats go to high rollers and longtime customers, leaving real fans to fight it out for a limited number of mediocre to bad seats. In general, only Bob Arum promotes in the classic sense, drumming up interest in fights the old-fashioned way. To be fair, Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions has introduced several modern marketing twists to the sport, but still relies too heavily on the “Vegas connection”. Now let’s move on the the biggest problem boxing has.

HBO Boxing4) Cable Required — Boxing is an expensive sport to keep up with. If you want to watch major fights live then you need cable or satellite, with a subscription to HBO and Showtime. If you want to watch the mega-fights, you have to dole out $50 to $60 for a pay-per-view event. Boxing isn’t as accessible as the NBA, the NFL, or MLB. A big reason it has become a niche sport in America is that people can’t afford to follow it. Monthly cable + two premium channels + frequent PPVs = a couple of thousand dollars a year.

Fighters like “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Muhammad Ali became huge stars because they could been seen on ABC and CBS. Yes, I understand that boxing is an unpredictable sport that’s also difficult and expensive to produce, making it an easier proposition on cable, but its popularity will always be limited as long as cable or satellite is required to follow.

Anyway, that was my random rant on boxing. I love the sport — both watching and training — so much that it physically irks me to watch it flounder. A lot of promoters claim that their next fight will be “the fight that saves boxing”, but that’s just garbage. The sport has so many problems that it’ll take more than one event to save it. In fact, it would take a miracle to solve all of boxing’s woes.

Author: RPadTV


12 thoughts on “Random Rants: The Four Biggest Problems with Boxing”

  1. I really don't want to be the one to break this to you, Mr. Padilla, but you do know that boxing is fixed, right? It's O.K., dude, I felt the same way when my parents told me there was no such thing as Santa Claus.

    Yeah, it's an entertaining sport to watch two guys punch (or in Tyson's case, bite) the living daylights out of each other, but there is really no sense in getting emotionally into it since no matter who you like or don't like, the outcome is predetermined. Once you get Vegas, and subsequently, the mob involved in the business it becomes a way to generate income. And in order to generate a stable stream of income, you have to know your revenue (bets) versus expenses (payouts). Since the revenue is so lucrative and the people controlling the sport are so few, it is way too tempting to make it worth the while of the people in charge if they call the match a certain way or maybe pay off a boxer to take a fall in a certain round.

    Boxing to me is just one step above WWE wrestling. It's a scripted entertainment event. The only difference is that there is legitimate betting, real blood, and real punching in one and not the other.


  2. Wow, Rpad. This is such a great rant. I did have Paul Wiliams winning on my at home scoring but it was no where near the lopsided card 119-110. I agree that some judges are inept. Maybe they should have just one standard scoring system for the judges to follow.

    This is funny because my friends and I have discussions on this every boxing match or whenever we get together to play cards.We only have issues with the scoring and feel that this would be the only way to get it fixed but i know the judges or even each boxing association i.e. WBA, WBO, WBC or IBF, will come up with their own standards and mess that up too.

    I don't think this will ever end but i do love boxing as well and i am sad to see that this is happening to one of my favorite sports.

  3. @tokz_21 There is a standard system, but it's interpreted differently by different judges. The judges are supposed to score a fight based on four criteria: clean punching, effective aggression, ring generalship, and defense. Unfortunately, too many inept judges lean toward the guy moving forward, whether he's effective or not.

  4. Good News for the future of boxing:

    My son is 7. I put wrestling on, he gets bored quickly. Usually, he runs off yo play a wrestling video game instead.

    I put UFC on, he watches for a bit, and loses interest.

    We see boxing on the channel guide "OOOH DAD…. Boxing's on… put on boxing!" The kid loves boxing over all pugilist sports. Come to think of it… all sports, period.

  5. @ R Pad

    If it were up to me, I'd want him proficient with both. Keep fighters on their toes.

    We got him some cheap gloves at the swap meet a while back and he loved them. We set up the cheap bag that came with them and he broke it within a week.

    My only fear about starting him now is that he's so young. I would love to see more opportunities come his way in the form of college scholarships (he's already a straight A student and his cousin is the best gymnast of her age in the state of PA), but I just fear it's too soon now. Also, there really isn't a good gym anywhere near where we live. We'd have to relocate to LA.

  6. @rpad

    You're right but like you mention the judges keep their discretion on what they favor and that's what i mean. they shouldn't be allowed to value one over the four criterias. there's a reason why there is four criterias, maybe they should add on a 4th judge our something and have each judge only focus on one of them.

    it seems they maybe too distracted by outside of the ring actions to focus on all four of them.

  7. I had a feeling that you were going to call me out on the real blood and punching, Mr. Padilla. I have to say that, yes, there is real blood and punching in wrestling. I just don't think it the same kind of punching or bloodletting that is associated with the normalcy of boxing. Both sports are incredibly difficult to master and take an inhuman amount of endurance and physical ability to succeed, which is why I think they are both entertaining. I just wouldn’t emotionally involve myself in the sports since I know that the outcome has already been determined. Sure, you and I don't know the outcome and that makes it exciting to us, but why would you get yourself worked up about the referee not seeing the pin or the judges calling it for the worse guy when you know the reason for it? It's not about the best fighter winning anymore; it's about how much money the establishment can make.

    Consequently, if I ever learn that NFL, MLB or NCAA football is rigged, I'll have to emotionally detach myself from that, too. I suspect that there may be money being doled out to referees and umpires, but it is very difficult to get an entire team to loose on purpose or bribe EVERY official to call a football or baseball game a certain way.


    P.S.- That last sentence just brought up some really bad memories. A thousand curses upon your name, Terry Porter!!!!! May you rot in the deepest, darkest, blackest corner of the fieriest pit of hell!!

    (Google it. I don't expect you to know.)

  8. I don't know if boxing has failed / is failing in the US because of gambling, rigging, people would rather play basketball and football. Whatever the reason, I don't see it coming back. A shame too. I miss the US heavyweight bouts.

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