Boxing Star Power: The Sweet Science's Advantage over Mixed Martial Arts
14.12.07 - By Rob Tierney: BrickCityBoxing .com. The UFC President's propaganda was more of the same this past year. Boxing is dead, public support has disintegrated, the trend of the times is mixed martial arts; he attempted to portray. In 2007, Dana White continued to lobby the naysayers and the anti-boxing media that the tradition of Boxing was on the verge of buckling for his own monetary gain..
Article posted on 15.12.2007
Still, the sport survived yet another year with record breaking pay per view audiences and more star power and solid performances than ever before. In fact, it is the sports' impeccable ability to produce such stars that will continue to separate itself from all forms of competition in the upcoming year. Behold what Boxing has in store for 2008.
Drool must have been dripping off the lips of Dana White this past May. When Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather managed to bring an astounding 2.15 million homes to the pay per view channel over Cinco De Mayo weekend it must have scarred the failed Boxing promoter's emotions. In fact, if the ultimate blow to White's egotistic propaganda wasn't completely exposed in May, it must have completely manifested itself this past weekend when Mayweather and British patron Ricky Hatton drew another record breaking crowd in Las Vegas, Nevada. It's what men like De La Hoya, Mayweather, and Hatton have to offer that separate the sweet science from all forms of competition and ultimately mixed martial arts itself.
Boxing has always benefited from sheer star power. It goes back to the infamous John L. Sullivan who first catapulted the sport into the public eye throughout the end of the 19 th century. Legends and heroes have been made in the sweet science unlike any other sport before. People from all nations, cultures and ethnic heritages have been drawn to the world's most diverse profession with the help of massive star power and cult like followings. It's the secret behind the success of promoters Don King and Bob Arum in the sport of Boxing and what will ultimately be the shortcoming for Dana White and mixed martial arts in the future.
Boxing has always benefited from diversity. HBO commentator Jim Lampley has been known for saying that "Jersey's are unnecessary when a boxer is in the ring." The reason is simple. When a fighter fights, he willingly, or in some cases unwillingly, represents his race, his nation, and even his hometown when he steps in the ring as fair or unfair as this may be. Evidence of this claim is everywhere.
When Cory Spinks hosted Zab Judah in St. Louis, Missouri back in February of 2005, he was accompanied in his ring entrance by Hip Hop Star Nelly who also hails from Missouri. It was Spinks way of informing Zab that the fight had more to with hometown pride than with Spinks and Judah themselves. Indeed it was "The Jinx" way of proclaiming that the fight was more about St. Louis's tough neighborhoods being matched against the mean streets of Brooklyn. While there is no way of linking the streets of St Louis to the streets of Brooklyn through a single prizefight, Spinks and Judah knowingly were representing their neighborhoods during this encounter. They weren't the first.
When Felix Trinidad stepped into the squared combat zone on fight night throughout his entire career, he represented not only the nation of Puerto Rico but every US neighborhood with a predominant Puerto Rican culture. He benefited from a massive presence of die hard Puerto Rican fans that devoted themselves to Tito through every fight. His fans have proven to play just as much a part of his victory performances as Tito has himself. When Tito's fans are in the arena, every punch is that much harder.
Julio Cesar Chavez's fans swarmed stadiums for his fights throughout the 1990's the same way Dead Heads did their favorite rock band in the 1970's when the late, great Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead were in town. If one of Chavez's opponents's had a prayer of defeating the Mexican legend when battling in the ring, they had to stand up to Chavez's legion of Mexican fans. An opponent of Chavez became an opponent of Mexico and he felt it from the crowd when he entered the ring.
When a Boxer fights, he fights not only for himself. He fights for his country. He fights for his people and his people fight for him with their unwavering support and undying passion. It can be found in few sports let along mixed martial arts. The boxer is given the kind of support from his countrymen that a soldier in uniform is given when preparing for battle. When a fighter decks out his trunks in his nation's colors, he ultimately becomes his nation's soldier.
The list goes on and on. Today John Duddy and Paulie Malignaggi benefit from their ethnic heritage just as their pugilist predecessors Jack Dempsey and Rocky Marciano did before them. Just as John Duddy benefits from a devoted Irish audience, Paulie Malignaggi benefits from a wave of Italian American supporters during his fights. It's why Boxing refuses to die despite what Dana White and the anti boxing media like to portray.
Well Renowned sports journalist Bert Randolph Sugar has discussed throughout many speeches and induction excerpts at International Boxing Hall of Fame ceremonies how boxing has always benefited from an influx of culture. Other historians and fight game experts have done the same. Irish, Italian and Jewish Americans along with many other groups of ethnic white emigrants have been drawn to the sport throughout history as fighters such as Jimmy Braddock, Barney Ross and Carmen Basilio represented the American Dream for many struggling immigrant cultures. They represented the strength of their race inside the ring for those who were deprived of the chance to show their strength outside of it. In fact, it's what enabled ethnic whites to gain deserving respect throughout the early portion of the 21st century that enabled Latinos and African Americans to gain respect throughout the second half. Prid!!!
During World War II, Joe Louis gained a kind of worthy respect for African Americans that had undeservingly been deprived of them earlier. He represented not only blacks, but whites and the entire US nation against Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany with his defeat over an unwilling Nazi representative. Max Schmeling, who later denounced the Nazi's impassionate ways, was demolished by Joe Louis in one of the century's most notable performances. Louis's victory deprived the Nazi's of their basis in their ignorant belief system that one race prevailed above all.
Later on, Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard only elevated black interest in the sport throughout the later portion of the century as they proved what opportunities Boxing is capable of providing for underprivileged youths who may have otherwise been left without a glimpse of hope. It's what continues to draw black audiences to the sport in this era of Boxing and what prevents them from neglecting the fight game for mixed martial arts.
Today Oscar De La Hoya and Fernando Vargas represent the current influx of immigrant groups from Mexico just as Heavyweights Oleg Maskaev and Sultan Ibragimov do their Russian migrants from foreign lands as they proceed to find acceptance in a melting pot culture. Fan support and ethnic pride continues to fill stadiums to the rafters throughout all regions of the country when the right fights are made. Culture and pride go a long way especially for those who are determined to seek it.
Even beyond the US mainstream, Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao continue to provide us with proof that Boxing's cultural impact is beyond comprehension. Hatton and Pacquiao show fight fans how Great Britain and the Philippines share a US passion for a beloved sport that was supposed to have been counted out years ago. The sport goes above and beyond any other in terms of warranting recognition for a deserving youth. Boxing can turn a ghetto kid into an international icon. It's what makes the game a phenomenon rather than a spectator sport.
Truth is boxing will never be counted out because as Bert Sugar has indicated it benefits from culture and star power. The sport turns immigrants into icons and the underprivileged into immortals.
Unfortunately for Dana White, the Ultimate Fighting Championships do not benefit from the kind of star power and cultural diversity that benefits boxing. Its reach does not expand the horizons of adolescence Caucasian youth the way Boxing does. While it can draw young audiences the same way that the WWE and the WWF has in the past, it's what it can't create that will hurt its long term health in the future.
UFC Champion Chuck Liddell was the closest thing that Dana White had to star power for the many Caucasian youth that followed his career. However, his quick defeat at the hands of African American Quinton Jackson and the booing that followed suit from the UFC fans reminded Boxing's supporters why Mixed Martial Arts has a long way to go before it has the star power and diversity of Professional Boxing.
Dana White was not able to transfer Jackson from a Mixed Martial Arts combatant into an international star after his victory over Liddell because he didn't have a diverse enough audience to do so. To his credit, he will continue to sell UFC DVD's next to WWE collections in Wal-Mart to the adolescence Caucasian youth who follow him, but he will never see an audience of 2.15 Million for a Pay Per View event. So the next time Mr. White is interviewed and is asked about his opinions on the sport of Boxing, let fans be reminded that he did not have enough cash in the bank to persuade Floyd Mayweather into the Octagon because Floyd's star power is outside of the UFC's reach and Floyd knows better than to follow a short lived trend rather than an ancient tradition.
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