Before boxing fans go storming off in a huff, hear me out. With both boxing and wrestling, there is no one centralized “major league.”* There are several different promotions, and a few of those have risen above the rest. In wrestling, for a great many years, it was the WWF and the NWA/WCW. Now, the WWE is clearly the dominant promotion, but TNA has some clout to it. In boxing, the big boys in town are Top Rank and Golden Boy. In wrestling, you are contracted to your company, and crossovers just don’t happen. At least not now. In boxing, there are certainly cross-promotion fights, but there seems to be a definite level of inbreeding going on when booking matches.
I could go on about the matches being fixed, but I’ll sidestep that easy joke.
Now, here’s where boxing might miss something from wrestling. See, with wrestling, the company has pretty well total control over the competitor. They will arrange the booking, approves and/or creates the gimmicks or characters, and decide in general how the stories will unfold and what direction fights will go. Boxing can’t emulate that to a T, obviously, boxing matches not typically being predetermined.* But, I do badly wish there was a stronger centralized body that could more or less force matches.
*Okay, okay, I know I said I wouldn’t, but I couldn’t help myself.
Oh, sure, the promotions try. You hear it all the time. “If Boxer X wins here tonight, they will face Boxer Y at such-and-such date.” Canelo Alvarez has had two big fights get derailed by upsets, which is a damn shame. But, yes, those deals certainly happen, typically within a promotion where there is a little more power to direct booking.
But ducking happens, and it happens far too often. I think we all know the prime example. Mayweather-Pacquiao. Who is doing the ducking? It seems to ebb and flow over who seemingly has the upper hand at the moment. At first, it sure felt like Mayweather was doing the ducking, coming up with different reasons and regulations to make the fight impossible. Then, after Pac-Man seemingly stole the last win from Juan Manuel Marquez, it looked like maybe Mayweather could win. And suddenly, Freddie Roach wanted nothing to do with the bout.
This is where it would be awfully nice to have a central commission that could force the bout. I don’t know exactly how it would all work, but when there is clearly a huge fan interest (or a belt) involved, there should be some sort of binding arbitration that could make the fight happen.
Can you imagine the money that would come in from that fight? Mayweather raked in $94 million in revenue for his last fight against Miguel Cotto. 1.5 million TV’s bought the PPV. Pacquaio’s last fight against Timothy Bradley (which was sort of a disaster) sold around a million PPV buys. Cotto and Bradley are known boxers and certainly nothing to be sneezed at. But neither are remotely to the same level of draw Mayweather or Pacquaio are on their own. Combine the two of them? You might as well have a license to print money.
Why is there no way to force this fight to happen? The fact that it hasn’t happened is exactly the reason boxing is constantly being declared as dead. It rings hollow when we don’t get definitive answers in sports. At least when those answers are available. Until boxing can figure out how to consistently get the best fighters to face each other, there will be trouble attracting the casual sports fans. Combine that with an already more squeamish public (see the NFL these days), and boxing has a tough road to hoe.
Saturday, Pacquiao has his fourth fight with Marquez. There is some interest there because of the controversial ending to the third fight. But, still, come on guys, enough is enough. Everbody and their brother knows the fight the world wants to see. Get it done before we really go WWE on you.