A heavyweight bout, boxing’s relevance compared to the UFC

I remember the first fight I ever watched on television. It was 2003, and, as an 11-year-old, I didn’t know what to expect. At the time, I had only heard of one of the fighters, Lennox Lewis. The other, a Ukranian guy named Vitali Klitschko, was an unknown to me, but apparently garnered enough attention for the fight to be sold on pay-per-view. I remember the controversy surrounding the fight; Klitschko’s doctor called the fight before the start of the seventh round due to a cut over his eye, even though Klitschko was leading on the scorecard.

Fast forward to present day. Lewis is now 46,  ended his career with a 41-2-1 record, and is considered one of the greatest fighters of all time. Klitschko is 40 and still holds the current WBC Heavyweight championship belt.

That fight seemed to be an indicator of the last of a dying breed. Unfortunately, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)  has come into dominance for the younger generation of America. Unlike the UFC, which utilizes the hands, feet and just about every other body part that can be used to harm a person, boxing uses only the fighters hands and requires more precision and technique than the UFC.

I’ve tried on several different occasions to watch one of these fights, but get tired and frustrated by the lack of technique and strategy.

It’s hard to believe this has replaced boxing. Or has it? For the last five or so years, no one’s really heard anything from the sport. But mind you, it’s still very much alive. Boxing goes much deeper than the fight. The lack of any great promoters – the Don Kings of the present – has cost boxing any serious media attention. Boxing, in a sense, is like theater. It has it’s characters, some more interesting than others. The first part of the play builds you up, much like the weigh in and the press conference. Then comes the climax, or the fight itself in boxing terms. That doesn’t happen on the same grand scale for UFC. Instead, you may have several fights on the same night, with one premier fight, much like professional wrestling.

Let’s remember Muhammad Ali. Not only was he the greatest fighter of all time, but possibly the greatest trash talker in the history of sports. He brought boxing into the spotlight not only with his actions, but with his words as well.   

Of course, the one fight that has caught the eye of the media isn’t even scheduled to happen. That’s right, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao is the best fight boxing can offer, and the odds of that happening are getting smaller by the day.

To say boxing is dying is overkill. In America, it would be more accurate to say that it has taken a back seat to UFC. Boxing in America still has its bright spots, including heavyweights Eddie Chambers and Michael Grant, super middleweight fighter Andre Ward and Mayweather, who currently fights in the super welterweight division.

But the majority of top boxers right now come from overseas, with names like the Filipino born Pacquaio, Argentine middleweight contender Sergio Gabriel Martinez, and heavyweight Ukrainian fighter and Klitschko’s younger brother, Wladimir.

Aside from the current roster of boxers to choose from, many believe that boxing faces different obstacles than UFC, chiefly due to their use of alternative media outlets such as ESPN, HBO and Showtime. Boxing promoter Lou DiBella engaged in a heated discussion on the matter with UFC commentator Joe Rogan during an ESPN interview.

“If we ever advertise boxing on ESPN or HBO or any place else with blood splats, like you do on your Spike T.V. show, that state athletics commissions would jump all over us,” said DiBella. “It’s a different form of entertainment.”

While people from my generation pay attention to the sheer violence of and UFC, they seem to forget the extreme discipline, strategy and focus it takes to fight in the boxing ring.

Next time you come across a boxing match on television, give it a chance. You never know; you may end up witnessing a classic along the lines of Lewis vs. Klitschko.