Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2016: A Year Of Further Progress And Success For Boxing?

At the beginning of 2015 readers of The Boxing Truth ® read what this observer believed might have been beneficial to the sport of Boxing during the year. The year 2015 could be described as one that was successful for the sport.

Of course, some will automatically say it was successful due in large part to the fact that the long-awaited battle between superstars Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally took place. It is indeed true that in terms of economics the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight proved to be the most successful event in Boxing history. The actual fight however, failed to live up to the hype that led up to it and left many Boxing fans feeling unsatisfied.

Although it is understandable to an extent that some would want to base their opinion on the overall success of that event for what turned out to be a successful year for the sport, it is important to remember that there were more stories in Boxing outside of Mayweather-Pacquiao. One of the biggest stories of 2015 was the launch of the Premier Boxing Champions series, a series that spans across several different networks on both broadcast and cable television.  In its first year, the series succeeded in bringing the sport exposure that it had been lacking for years, primarily across networks such as NBC and CBS, who had sporadic involvement in the sport for several years before the Premier Boxing Champions series began. As 2016 begins the Premier Boxing Champions series will soon expand its coverage to include Fox as it will bring Boxing in prime time back to the national Fox network for the first time in nearly twenty years beginning on January 23rd with a card headlined by a Welterweight bout between former world champions Danny Garcia and Robert Guerrero.

For a series that has provided competitive fights, a platform for rising prospects, and has succeeded in bringing increased exposure for the sport, the future does look bright for the Premier Boxing Champions series and this observer has no doubt that the series will continue to progress in 2016. As much as the Premier Boxing Champions series should be applauded for its contributions to the sport, an interesting question that some might ask is what other areas in the sport could improve in 2016?

Readers may recall at the beginning of 2015 I discussed topics that I felt could have long-term benefits for the sport. One of those topics centered on the heads of Boxing’s respective sanctioning organizations including the World Boxing Council (WBC), the World Boxing Association (WBA), and the International Boxing Federation (IBF) establishing an ongoing dialogue to discuss various issues that surround the sport.

This observer remains firm in my stance that an ongoing dialogue between the sport’s respective sanctioning organizations should be viewed as a positive and encouraged particularly if such dialogue leads to things that can improve the sport overall including as I suggested last year unification of Boxing’s seventeen weight classes in order to establish one undisputed world champion per division. Although such a suggestion may appear to be wishful thinking, it should not be dismissed.

In regard to the subject of championships, readers may also recall my comments concerning my belief that the concept of interim/regular/emeritus “champions” needing to be rethought and simplified. It is my hope that not only the dialogue between Boxing’s various sanctioning organizations continues and expands to include organizations that have not been involved in such discussions, but more importantly that such dialogue will lead to a more simplified system a designating mandatory challengers for world champions.

Even though not much has changed in the past year with regard to fighters holding interim/regular champion status in a sanctioning organization’s respective ratings across several weight classes, I believe there is still much that could be done to both ensure that fighters who earn opportunities to fight for a world title get their opportunity in a timely manner and to clear up confusion among the general public as to rankings, designations, and number one contenders. As I stated last year, the concept interim/regular “champions” as well as other designated titles although well-intentioned has created more confusion than it has created solutions.

It is my hope that the dialogue between the sport’s various sanctioning organizations will lead to progress in revamping the concept of interim/regular “champions” in 2016. As much as I believe that the continued growth of the Premier Boxing Champions series as well as an ongoing dialogue between Boxing’s governing bodies will be beneficial in the long-term for the sport, one of the most important things that will continue the progress of the sport in 2016 will be if the best fighters face the best competition available to them.

As successful as 2015 was for Boxing there are still rivalries not only between fighters, but between promoters and networks that could and has prevented fights that most would consider “Big” or “Major” from happening in the past. After all, the Boxing world waited almost a decade for Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao to become a reality. Once the fight finally happened however, it left many feeling disappointed. Whether or not it would have made any difference as to how the fight was fought had Mayweather and Pacquiao fought each other earlier in their careers is a subject to debate.

In this observer’s eyes one of the biggest detriments to the sport is when Boxing fans are asked to wait a significant period of time before a fight that has significant demand finally takes place. If there is a commitment however, from promoters, television networks, and Boxing’s sanctioning organizations to seeing the best fighters square off against one another the progression and long-term success of the sport will continue well beyond 2016. This observer looks forward to seeing what is in store for Boxing in the year ahead.

“And That’s the Boxing Truth.”

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