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When did boxing become so tame?
We look at the state of the sport
Posted Apr 22, 2011 by Shaun Edwards
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The debate is still raging whether the Amir Khan v Paul McCloskey fight at the MEN Arena last weekend should have been called off in the sixth round after a clash of heads regardless of whether the decision was right or wrong, there is an underlying issue here and that is that boxing has become somewhat ‘watered down’ in recent years.
Last Saturday, 18,000 fans crammed into the MEN Arena paying full price for a ticket, some 6,000 of them had travelled over from Ireland to support McCloskey, so quite rightly they felt robbed when the fight was called to a halt early.
If you were to calculate pounds per minute, boxing would be one of the most expensive sports in the world to watch live. Yes fans are somewhat disappointed when one opponent knocks out another in the early stages of the fight because it really doesn’t feel like value for money but there again at least when TKO occurs, the fight finishes with a bang.
The Khan McCloskey fight reminded us of what it was like when you were a teenager and your mum would switch the lights on and tell all your friends to go home because it is getting late. Kind of gutted…
Press interviewed some of the fans leaving the arena and one captured the feelings of many of the fans “I won’t be paying for boxing again.”
Football matches rarely get called off for anything other than weather. It took a civil war to stop Formula 1 and yet boxing, seemingly one of the ‘tough” sports gets called off as soon as one of the fighters gets a cut to the head.
From what we could see, the cut in the end wasn’t all that bad and McCloskey was seen exiting the arena with no visible blood on his face. I’m all for safety in sport but since when did boxing become so tame? – Surely there should be allowances for injuries, the boxers are after all consenting to a fight where minor injuries are inevitable.
Boxing as a sport has hit a crossroads, how it carries itself forward will determine the future success or failure because I think a large number of fans are unhappy with the state of things as they stand.
UFC, the mixed martial arts sport from the US, is gaining popularity in the UK and my gut feeling is that many boxing fans will defect to supporting and spending their money on UFC fights because they enjoy the gritty feel of the sport. UFC, being an American export, is of course at times a little ‘put on’ however it still retains that raw feel – something which many boxing fans crave since boxing seems to have taken a turn towards Las Vegas style shows that lack any real substance or ‘danger’.
UFC offers boxing fans the chance to see a real fight between two skilled athletes without health and safety interfering at every opportunity.
Boxing had better sort itself out if it wants to be a part of the rich sporting tapestry of the future.