Boxing on the ropes as MMA becomes the No 1 contender - Other Sports_ Sport

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                   You are here: Home > Sport > Other Sports

                                                                                                                                                                                              Latest sport video
                   Boxing on the ropes as MMA becomes the No 1
                   Professional boxing is slipping into irrelevancy as fight fans embrace the violence of mixed
                   martial arts, says Patrick McEllin

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                   Sunday July 04 2010
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                   P rofessional boxing has fallen a long way in terms of popularity and
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                   the faint hope of their return. Mixed martial arts may prove to be the                                                as Irish target Olympic
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                   A glance at the list of top-ten television pay-per-view buys in America
                   for 2009 shows mixed martial arts is clearly in the ascendency. Six of                                            q   Cricket: O'Brien heroics not
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                   the top-ten positions were taken by MMA, twice as many as boxing.
                   Interestingly, the three boxing cards to make the top ten included either                                         q   Athletics: Semenya out of Delhi                      Breaking News

                   Floyd Mayweather Jr or Manny Paquiao while the MMA events had five                                                    Games
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                   western world in the last five years, its rapid ascendency is quite
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                   But why is it increasing in popularity at such a rapid rate while boxing is
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                   slipping into irrelevancy in terms of popular mainstream sports? The                                              London Fight Factory
                   merits of MMA and the public's increased ease with the violence involved                                          Great MMA, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, & Thai                                   more breaking news
                   in the sport have been huge factors in its rise to prominence. However,                                           Boxing - free trial class!
                   MMA has also been quick to take advantage of boxing's sorry state to fill
                   a gap in the market.                                                                                                                                                                       Partners
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                   The lack of credible American heavyweight boxers has hurt the sport                                               Enhance your training with Lucozade                                          Win a iPod and                  Win an overnight
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                   badly. Heavyweight has traditionally been the sport's marquee division.                                                                                          passes to The Hot               stay in the Westin &
                   Frazier, Foreman, Tyson, Ali and a host of others caught the American                                                                                                                          Press Music Show!               100 worth of
                   imagination and the rest of the western world followed that lead.                                                 Love amateur boxing?                                                     q   More competitions               Rimmel London
                   Nowadays, however, the great American heavyweights are thin on the                                                Come to our black tie tournament in                                                                          hampers!
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                   Traditionally, boxing was seen by the black underclass as means of
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                   that has changed is the sporting avenue he will most likely pursue.                                     

                   In the last 20 years, basketball and American football have become the
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                   more popular routes for black athletes as the monetary gains related to
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                   these sports increased tenfold. As the iconic boxing pundit Bert Sugar                                            Thai Boxing, MMA & BJJ"
                   remarked about two well-known linebackers: "The best American                                           
                   heavyweights are named Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher because they're
                   over 250 pounds, and they can make more money. That's what
                   happened to the heavyweight division in America".

                   Record protecting is one of modern boxing's biggest problems and it is one which has been completely self-
                   inflicted. It can be difficult to tell what level a boxer is really at or how legitimate his record is nowadays.
                   Fighters can be protected by their promoters, taking on only cans and fighters far past their prime to build
                   an impressive record on paper that can lead to more lucrative fights.

                   Ricky Hatton is a prime example of this. Hatton was undefeated in 40 fights coming into his bout with
                   Mayweather in 2008. The day before the fight Hatton was 6/5 in some places to win, but he could have
                   been 10/1 and still would not have been a good bet, such was the gulf in quality between the fighters,
                   despite the fact their records would suggest otherwise.

                   Mixed martial arts does not have this problem because about 70 per cent of the top competition fight in one
                   major organisation, the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The UFC organises fights, not the different
                   managements, and the majority of the time it is only interested in setting up competitive fights rather than
                   protecting reputations or records. Given that a pay-per-view event can cost up to $50, it is a far more
                   attractive proposition to watch an MMA event where you can be almost guaranteed competitive fights
                   between fighters at a relatively even level rather than a boxing event.

                   With mixed martial arts, and despite the fact that many of the fighters have huge profiles, the UFC itself is
                   still the main draw and the fans know the organisation will put on the best card possible. With boxing, the
                   big name is still the draw and these big names are getting thinner on the ground.

                   This has become especially relevant over the last 20 years as more and more boxers look to start off
                   straight into pay per view without building up a profile first, which naturally makes them even harder to
                   market. Again mixed martial arts doesn't have this problem because people will still buy the fight without
                   knowing all the fighters because they trust the UFC to put on a good card.

                   Mixed martial arts struggled for years to be accepted into mainstream society. It was seen as a violent
                   blood sport and even described as "human cockfighting". Ironically, its aesthetically violent nature has
                   become one of its biggest advantages. With thinner gloves, use of elbows, knees and feet allowed, as well
                   as striking on the ground, not too mention the fact that takedowns make many boxing defensive techniques
                   redundant, it is far more violent than boxing.

                   With MMA it's fairly clear the majority of casual fans watch for the violence. When a fighter goes to the
                   ground, the booing will begin quickly if his opponent does not quickly lay down a torrent of blows. The
                   fighters may be in the middle of a tactical bout, attempting to gain position and posture through wrestling

            (1 of 2)30/09/2010 13:35:13
 Boxing on the ropes as MMA becomes the No 1 contender - Other Sports, Sport -

or working for submissions, but the fans just want too see them smash each other.

Boxing is on the canvas and it is questionable whether it can make a recovery. Its wounds are severe, some
caused by outside influences, others self-inflicted.

It's doubtful whether it can ever come close to reaching the heights it once did. Mixed martial arts remains
on the rise and the decline of boxing coupled with a change in attitude towards the violence involved means
it will only continue growing.

Sunday Independent

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