De La Hoya-Mayweather: A Timely Fight for a Timeless Sport

03.05.07 - By Steve Skinner: A few months back I was emailed by a member of Eastside boxing named “Pitbull” or something similar. Apparently he’s an avid UFC fan, and was continuing on with Dana White’s(UFC’s President & CEO) strategy to “call out” boxing-to say that UFC is better, that they’re making more money by producing larger PPV figures, that boxing is a dying sport, and ultimately that its only a matter of time before the UFC takes over.

As a long time boxing fan (and longtime member of Eastside boxing), of course this is not the first time I’ve heard this or had some crazy ultimate fighting fan email me in response to one of my posts. I also have a long time friend of mine who happens to be both a boxing fan and a UFC fan-but in the past year he’s been employing the same Dana White-like tactics. Every time there’s a UFC Event, he mass emails all his friends (whether they watch the sport or not) to let them know of the upcoming UFC Event, the odds on the fights, his picks, etc. Although I find it quite annoying, I must take my hat off to the UFC fans for pushing their sport and trying to gain fan base. In my recent conversations with my UFC buddy, I’ve noticed that he really seems to want to downplay the upcoming De La Hoya-Mayweather fight. You see, at heart he’s really more of a UFC fan. As a former High School wrestler, I can certainly appreciate the UFC and the sport of ultimate fighting, but for me it will never be as good as boxing. For me it’s an entirely different sport that will never be on the same level as a sport like boxing for several reasons.

For starters, the sport of boxing has one thing that ultimate fighting will not have for many years-that is if it sticks around; History. The Marquis of Queensberry rules go back to 1865, and legalized boxing began in 1896 with the Horton Law. Now here we stand in 2007 with the biggest fight in the history of the sport about to take place. In between, there’ve been many great fights, many great fighters, many great trainers, many great fans, many great sponsors and networks, and many great promoters who have kept the sport alive. Ultimate fighting is long ways away from being able to produce a mega event that will produce the revenue of a single event such as De La Hoya-Mayweather. Believe me, this fight will be watched all around the world, and time will be standing still when it happens.

Secondly, boxing is a legitimate sport. Not only is boxing a recognized sport by the Olympic committee, but it’s also recognized by the general public and mainstream America. Ultimate fighting, on the other hand, has not only struggled for fan base but also to be recognized as a legitimate sport rather than human cock-fighting. Legitimacy is a three-part equation, however. Obviously without the fan base, no sport would survive. Ultimate fighting has already proved that it has the fan base, but adequate sponsorship is still a part of the equation that they’re still missing out on. Although ultimate fighting has had some success on networks like Spike, Fox, and I’ve heard rumors that they will start being aired on HBO; there are still many other networks that don’t want a part of them that have been airing boxing for years. Even beyond that, there is the question of sponsorship. While companies like Budweiser, Tecate, Southwest Airlines, Dr Pepper, and many many other recognized companies are willing to sponsor the sport of boxing, ultimate fighting is sponsored by Xience and many other non-recognized companies. Honestly I don’t even know what Xience is or does, I think you’re supposed to drink it though!

Lastly, boxing seems to have a strange ability to stop time in its tracks when a mega-fight such as we’re about to watch goes off. It’s a very strange effect that is hard to put into words, but is more a feeling you have or a rare experience one goes through that ultimate fighting has never been able to replicate. The other day I was thinking back to some of the mega-fights which I’ve seen in my time, and I actually shocked myself in that I could remember exactly where I was at during each fight! I could even remember fights I’d watched with my grandpa as a very young boy sitting on his lap. Well before my time, folks even tuned in their radios just to hear the fights called-before the invention of the Television….and I imagine that even then time stood still for those who listened back in the day, just like when War Admiral raced Sea Biscuit. I wonder if anyone would want to just listen to an ultimate fight get called on the radio? My guess is no. My guess is that we’d still want to just listen to the De La Hoya-Mayweather fight even if we didn’t own tv’s, and to me that’s the main difference between the two sports.

So I have a few simple requests for those UFC’ers out there. Continue to watch and enjoy your sport. Don’t, however, bash mine or I will in turn have to bash yours. Continue to grow your sport, but please don’t do it by knocking mine. You won’t find me hanging out on your websites, so please don’t hang out on mine and then throw insults while doing such. Hopefully some day your sport will be able to produce a De La Hoya-Mayweather type of event, but in the meantime please watch, learn, and be humbled. Yes, this is an event, and this is how it’s done! Best of luck with your sport.

Article posted on 04.05.2007

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