Lance Armstrong is one of the most iconic and well-known athletes in the United States. The famed cyclist achieved unprecedented success in his sport by winning the Tour de France seven times, two more than any man in history. He transcended a niche sport with his incredible and inspiring personal story, overcoming testicular cancer before achieving his amazing success.
Armstrong was the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for four consecutive years, from 2002-2005. Sports Illustrated named him Sportsman of the Year in 2002. His full list of accolades on Wikipedia is far longer than that. Outside of sports, he spearheaded the Lance Armstrong Foundation, one of the more successful cancer research foundations in the US. He even spawned a surprisingly durable fashion trend with the yellow LIVESTRONG bracelets that his foundation developed to raise money. If you don’t know somebody who wears either a LIVESTRONG bracelet or one of the numerous similar bracelets that followed in its wake, you don’t know anybody.
In short, Lance Armstrong is as big a star as there is in the galaxy of sports. He is as recognizable a name in the U.S. as Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Peyton Manning or Derek Jeter. His name registers beyond cycling fans, beyond hardcore sports fans, and beyond casual sports fans, to grandmothers and school kids and men with lives far too busy or interesting to spend time thinking about grown men competing for sport. Athletes simply don’t get much more famous than Lance Armstrong.
As for cycling… well, who gives a shit about cycling?
This is the crux of my current trepidation.
With his victory over Oscar de la Hoya in December of 2008, Manny Pacquiao began his ascent into the Armstrong stratosphere of sports fame. He’s achieved the record-setting accolades, winning world titles in an unparalleled 8 different weight divisions (coincidentally, two more than any other fighter in history, the same margin as Armstrong holds in Tour de France victories over his competitors). He similarly overcame a great obstacle – extreme poverty in Pacquiao’s case – to garner worldwide fame. He has expanded his reach beyond the margins of sport by winning a seat in Congress in the Philippines.
As for boxing…
Pacquiao has certainly had a tangibly positive impact on the sport of boxing. He now routinely draws over one million pay-per-view buys for his fights, joining a very select group of all-time mega-selling PPV stars that includes de la Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Mike Tyson, and few others. He drew 70,000 people to Cowboy Stadium early last year, and when he drew “only” 50,000 or so later in the year at the same venue, it was considered a disappointment, despite the fact that a crowd of over 15,000 for any other fighter is generally considered a rousing success.
“Pacman” has sung duets with Will Ferrell on Jimmy Kimmel Live and was honored with a meeting with President Obama and a trip to the floor of the United States Senate. Because of Pacquiao, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum was able to negotiate a deal for CBS to air episodes of a documentary series about his upcoming fight with Shane Mosley, paving the way for professional boxing to return to network television for the first time in well over a decade. That move included Pacquiao switching allegiances from pay-per-view king HBO to Showtime PPV, a move driven by the network deal that threatens to send massive reverberations throughout the sport. He has proven an invaluable resource for boxing, capturing the attention of the mainstream media and infusing it with a positive, heroic role model for young boxing fans to admire.
Unfortunately, unless boxing changes its current business practices radically, I do not believe Pacquiao’s amazing rise to fame will have much impact on the long-term future of boxing as a whole.
I referred earlier to Lance Armstrong transcending a niche sport, and I believe Pacquiao has done the same. When Armstrong transcended cycling, he did not take the sport with him. He remained a part of it, a participant and a representative and a star, but the mainstream imaginations he captured were not equally enamored of his chosen vocation. They idolized Armstrong, justifiably awed by his captivating back-story and his character in the face of a terrible disease. They watched him on Oprah and bought his bracelets and supported his foundation and christened him a role model for their children.
They just didn’t share his love of men in tight shorts and bright jerseys racing around rugged, mountainous terrain on bicycles for weeks at a time, unless he was the one at the front of the race.
Armstrong won the ESPY (awards for athletes given by ESPN) for Best Male Athlete four years in a row from 2003 through 2006. Yet when I peruse the variety of sports for which ESPN.com features a dedicated site, including such niche sports (in the US) as horse racing, poker, fishing, rugby, and cricket, I see no section of the site dedicated to cycling.
ESPN rightly considered Armstrong a huge star, and acknowledged him by awarding him Best Male Athlete for nearly half of the last decade. If interest in cycling had increased dramatically due to interest in Armstrong, ESPN would have capitalized by developing content on their Web site specifically catering to fans of a burgeoning sport. It just never happened.
I fear a similar fate is in store for boxing. Of course, boxing is a higher-profile sport in the U.S. than cycling (there is obviously a dedicated section for boxing on ESPN.com, run by the esteemed Dan Rafael, without which I probably would not be the fan am I today), but it is nonetheless a niche sport. I believe some in the sport, and those who follow it, naively assume that Pacquiao’s ever-growing profile will naturally lead to a boxing renaissance.
Unfortunately, just because people are interested in Pacquiao does not mean that they are necessarily interested in boxing. Self-inflicted wounds still mar the sport, and one shining beacon like Pacquiao cannot, and will not -- no matter how brightly he shines -- blind the world to all those ills.
While Arum deserves credit for developing Pacquiao into the superstar he is today and for leveraging Pacquiao’s notoriety to get boxing back on network television, he still has earned the derision he receives for continuing to isolate himself and his stable of fighters. He has ratcheted up his Cold War with Golden Boy Promotions and has lately shown zero interest in matching his fighters with anyone outside his promotional banner. He maintains his policy of willfully ignoring the wishes of hardcore boxing fans when making fights (see his refusal to match Top Rank stable mates Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa against one another, when neither is going to rise above his current status without that fight, or the years it took him to match Nonito Donaire with a challenging opponent after Donaire impressively flattened Vic Darchinyan way back in 2007), despite the fact that these are the fans he relies upon to attend fight cards, to buy his pay-per-views and merchandise and to spread the gospel of the sport to their friends and associates. And the fight he has proposed to break the longstanding absence of boxing on network television sometime after the Pacquiao documentary paves the way, Mexican star middleweight Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. against relatively unknown German Sebastian Zbik, reflects the chronic nearsightedness of the fight games’ puppeteers. It makes sense from a short-terms ratings perspective, as Chavez is very popular, drew excellent ratings in his last fight on Fox Sports Deportes, and generally makes pretty entertaining fights, but from a standpoint of putting the sport’s best foot forward and making a big splash in its latest foray into network broadcasting, from a standpoint of marketing the best aspects of the sport, it falls far, far short of rising to the enormity of the stage.
Remember, Strikeforce, a rival mixed martial arts promotion to UFC, also once boasted a network deal with CBS, but those cards relied heavily on gimmick fighters like Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano, who boasted popularity and name recognition but lacked in elite MMA skills (imagine boxing flooding the networks in the 90s with cards featuring Butterbean and Mia St. John, despite having far better talent available, and you’ll get the picture). Despite having no network presence, UFC is still the biggest name in MMA by a wide margin. A network deal does not represent the end of the rainbow, but merely the opening of a door.
Manny Pacquiao’s worldwide stardom and undeniable charisma are no doubt greatly beneficial to boxing, but they are not enough to raise the profile and popularity of the sport alone. Manny has re-opened doors long considered locked down forever, but for boxing this represents only an opportunity, not an achievement.
(A jovial Bob Arum.)
The powers that control boxing, specifically Arum and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, will dictate the future of the sport by how they respond to this opportunity. Given the resumes of both men, I cannot say that I am brimming with optimism.
But I’m a pessimist, because I like to be right. This time, I hope I’m wrong.
Tim, thanks for pointing out my defective judgement. Scott, thank you for trying to enlighten me. perhaps an apology is in order...but first, let me explain to let you know why something like these happen..
we filipinos, has been very proud of what pacman did to the sport that we love. we are so happy that our race somehow contributed a hero in boxing...only to be horrified at what our pacman got in return. our champion was criticized, accused, insulted, ridiculed and mocked in some articles...and by some misguided personalities. we got so frustrated, because our hero being meek as a lamb, seems too scared to fight back at his critics and... too shy to defend himself from unfounded accusations! so we took it upon ourselves to defend him... to the point we're called pactards. to us, if you hit our idol needlessly and pointlessly...you hit all of us.i hope you understand.
in your case scott... you wrote too long that it was difficult to chew, so i must have missed something. being filipino, english is not my first language and you wrote your article so deep, making it more difficult for me to digest.
you wrote about lance, who like pacman was/is hounded by PED accusations... but like pacman, there has never been proof. so when you wrote about lance then switch it to pacman... i thought you were trying to put something fishy when you wrote about them in the same article...and it made me react harshly. i read again your article...and it is indeed a masterpiece.
i had been unnecessarily harsh... so please accept my sincere apology.
@zdrx An apology? In a comment section? I think you may have just broken the Internet! You have no need to apologize, you're allowed your interpretation, I was just defending what I wrote. My Spanish is no doubt 1000 times worse than your English, so if the language barrier was the issue, so be it. I do appreciate the sentiment, very much in fact.
If it helps, take comfort in this: I don't know exactly what you're reading out there, but the vast majority of things written about Pacquiao are positive. Like 90+% of them. And I don't know anybody who doesn't like Manny and is aware of Manny. He's as universally beloved as any celebrity I can think of. There are always going to be dissenters, you can't take it too personally. Fans love Manny. The media loves Manny. Despite some misinterpretations about some things I write (and it's not at all just you), I love Manny.
Don't worry about Floyd's accusations and the jibber jabber of his flock. And thanks for turning this into something constructive, I truly appreciate that.
Interesting story, Scott. Valid points, although there are quite a few differences in comparing boxing to cycling.
Cycling last was popular as a competitive sport in the U.S. about 110 years ago. Boxing last was a popular mass-appeal sport in the U.S. 20 years ago. Cycling is never coming back because it's seen as a "Euro" sport. Boxing still hasn't lost its roots of U.S. dominance, so there's more of a chance.
Pacquiao is a marvel for so many reasons. The biggest are that he is a lighter-weight fighter who has captured Americans' minds and hearts, yet he's not American. That's a huge accomplishment for a nation that still is very parochial about its sporting heroes.
But one can only imagine if an American heavyweight had the skill and charisma of Pacquiao. Imagine if an American guy climbed from poverty to be the undisputed heavyweight champion, with tons of charisma and societal impact way behind boxing.
Oh, that's right: America had one -- Muhammad Ali. And regardless of how big Pacquiao becomes, he won't trump the lasting sporting impact of The Greatest.
Ali was a perfect storm of everything America wants in a boxing superstar. Telegenic, charismatic, polarizing, incredibly skilled -- and an American heavyweight.
Lighter weights have had their days and weeks in America, but no weight class captivates the super-sized sporting attitudes quite like the heavyweight division. I try to engage my friends who aren't boxing fans into light conversation about the Sweet Science, and it usually takes less than two minutes for one of them to ask, "Who is the heavyweight champion these days?" followed by the inevitable, "I lost interest after Tyson and Holyfield faded away."
It's no different in MMA. Guys like Fedor, Da Silva and St. Pierre are big in that world, but none are Americans. Who is the biggest star in UFC? An American who rocketed to the heavyweight title in short order -- Lesnar.
Mainstream America loves big Americans in combat sports. Period.
@PaulKelly There are certainly more big name foreign players in the NBA but it's still an American sport. The top draws are American because those guys are the top players, and I wouldn't hold up LeBron as a guy with universal support since he's pretty much hated everywhere outside Miami. Can't spell hate without H-E-A-T.
I guess my point is that the American fans would embrace a charasmatic, legitimate US heavyweight. I just don't know that that means they would re-embrace boxing as a "core" sport (in the US, I would definte football, baseball, basketball, and colleget FB and hoops as the core sports; sorry hockey).
Armstrong definitely wouldn't have been as big a star without having overcome cancer. He'd still be a known name though, I still know Greg LeMond and he didn't have cancer or win as many Tours as Lance.
@Scott_Kraus All good points, Scott.
Boxing has a history of American nationalism. In fact, there was no greater "us vs. them" fight in the history of the sport than when Louis fought Schmeling in the famous rematch of 1938. This was freedom vs. tyranny, democracy vs. Nazism.
Louis visited FDR in the White House before the fight, and FDR told the Brown Bomber, "Joe, we need muscles like yours to beat Germany."
Americans were parochial by default in boxing in the 70s and 80s because Americans ruled the only class that matters to most sports fans -- heavyweights.
Now Americans need to be less parochial because many of the top fighters in the world are not American. It's no different than the NBA. But the top fan draws in the NBA are still Americans, guys like Kobe, LeBron, DWade, Durant, etc., etc.
But American fans would re-embrace boxing if there was a charismatic, legitimate U.S. contender at heavyweight. Sorry, Cris Arreola and his 42D breasts never have counted.
I ask this question about Armstrong: Would his story have been as compelling if he simply won the Tour seven times and never suffered from cancer? I don't think so. He just would have been a Yank dominating a Euro sport instead of an American who cheated death, became a rallying point for millions of cancer survivors and also a seven-time Tour winner.
Armstrong's legacy as a cancer survivor and cancer fundraising and awareness flag bearer has transcended what he has done on the bike.
@PaulKelly Thanks PK. I acknowledged the difference between cycling and boxing in other comments, but also noted that I could have done this story about Funny Cide or something in the Armstrong role.
I think it's less about the difference between boxing and cycling and more about the difference between people being captivated by an athlete and being captivated by a sport. Lesnar may have been the biggest star in UFC the last couple years, but the popularity was built as much on Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes and Rich Franklin as it was on St. Pierre and Silva, and those guys were mostly sub-heavy. And Lesnar's popularity was partly fueled by the fact that he was a known commodity - pro wrestler in the WWE, guy who got ESPN burn by trying out for the Vikings - before he ever got to UFC. I think the UFC/MMA boom happens with or without Lesnar, and I think it happened because the sport found a way to captivate an audience.
Just look at the brand loyalty UFC engenders. A substantial portion of fans by UFC PPVs because they are UFC PPVs, not specifically because of any particular fighters. The same way football fans like me block off their Sundays in the fall no matter who is playing that day. We're loyal to UFC or the NFL because we believe in their product, even though they sometimes do shitty stuff, they do enough good to earn that loyalty and belief. Boxing doesn't have that right now. Nobody buys Top Rank PPVs or GBP PPVs just because Top Rank or GBP has earned loyalty. Boxing promoters are too short-sighted and small-time in their thinking to get that, so the product suffers.
If I've learned anything from Internet comment sections, it's that Americans tend to be LESS parochially biased when it comes to sports stars than other nations, in my humble opinion. While I am quick to acknowledge the numerous and deep flaws of my American bretheren, I see more Americans support fighters for ethnic background reasons (see the Irish-American support for John Duddy in NY) than simply because they wave the red, white and blue. I think that Americans are generally more interested in intranational sports like baseball, basketball, and football, while so many other countries are more into soccer, an international sport that fosters more nationalistic pride. Mexico and PR is a huge boxing rivalry. Mexico and the Philippines is now a huge boxing rivalry. There isn't a US-anyone boxing rivalry because I don't think most Americans think like that until the Olympics, and even then we only care if Bob Costas has a feel-good story backed by strings. The ceiling is probably higher for an American than an international fighter, but I don't think it's too much higher, as Pacquiao has shown.
I can't argue with your last point, but I can argue that they need more than just that. Otherwise, heavyweight boxing would still be popular and the XFL would be around. Americans love to see big Americans beat the shit out of each other, IF they're doing so in an appealing context.
Quick summary follow-up: Americans love to see big Americans beat the shit out of each other. As proof, I present to you the runaway train success of the National Football League.
The NFL wouldn't be nearly as popular if there was a 200-pound weight limit.
A couple of contrasting points to think about SK:
* I agree with Fidel below-- the Pac/Lance comparison is not particularly apt given their sports' respective histories. Boxing has its legacy of being mainstream; hell, great bouts were Events. Cycling never had such mass appeal. With all of the PR surrounding Lance and his (perhaps fraudulent) storyline, cycling rose to perhaps the level of "niche" sport (even one with a longtime culture of biochemical cheating). Lance became the THE sport (how many folks can name any Tour de France winner in the three years off the top of their head? Less than .0025% of the population I would gather). Manny is just the current most recognizable face of a sport with a longstanding history. Huge difference.
*I am glad you did not take your point in the direction I thought you were initially. Suffice it to say, Lance is not, and never was, my favorite role model. The media machine was complicit in its willing blindness to what goes on in the world of cycling and putting the rubber band man up on some sort of heroic societal pedestal, and which even made the canonization of Mark McGwire during the summer him and the skin bleacher cheated their way to Maris' record pale by comparison. The clues were there in plain sight-- remember the Creatine in the locker ? the time someone hid in the hotel bathroom calling his lawyer when the blood testers came round? Yet none of these incidents triggered any spotlight of scrutiny. In contrast, I think some of the boxing media have fed the flames of a rumor simply to denigrate Manny and cannibalize his accomplishments even when there is simply no actual proof and for which the source of said rumors must also be considered. Manny, as the new top dog, has been subjected to whisper campaigns, fed largely by the felonious/scurrilous TeamMayweather and aided and abetted by PBF apologists without any articulable reasonable susicpion. I'm not naive enough to disclaim that the sport doesn't have a PED problem, and with a Victor Conte involved with Andre Ward and Flash, hard questions and transparency and whistleblowers may very well be warranted. But someone needs to do the legwork to both ask these hard questions and find the real answers--substituting subjective suppositions and references to " A-side" which makes one "bulletproof" as "proof" doesnt cut it.
*Lance winning consecutive ESPYs is comparable to Charlie Sheen winning consecutive People's Choice Awards for Favorite Male Performer. Signifies nothing but the self-glorification of the ESPN brand as the arbiter of "sport".
*Finally, all the words in the blogosphere dedicated to 'boxing is dying" "its audience is shrinking look at the numbers" and "we need to find a way for the sport to go back in the hot tub time machine to the halcyon days of the 70's and 80's where boxing was mainstream and had lots of eyeballs" miss a larger point: its 2011 and the world has changed since then with an impact that reaches far wider than the boxing world. Except for maybe the Super Bowl, the mammoth "mainstream" audience doesn't exist anymore-- call it the compartmentalization of America. In the 1980's the Cosby Show was the most watched program and viewed by 30,000,000+ . Today, the #1 show (NCIS?) has that audience cut by a third, if not more. Is the conclusion that TV is dying? No-- there's simply more competition. And it impacts all sports-- even the non-niche ones (national baseball ratings had been anemic too compared to its heyday ). So what does that mean for boxing? (1) the goal of magically restoring a "mainstream" audience with grassroots appeal, at least by prior numerical standards, is simply out of reach. Those days are over and ain't coming back. But there will always be a core audience for boxing-- if only as a result of the nation's changing demographic, so (2) the focus in 2011 and beyond must be on keeping the base happy, and slowly broadening it outward little by little to maxmize whatever eyeballs are out there--maybe even enough to catch a CBS' attention and make it a self-perpetuating cycle.. Manny (and even Junior) helps in this regard, but you are right, he is no savior. One man couldn't save the sport even if he wanted becuase any problems which with the sport is confronted in 2011 and beyond are more instituional in nature.
* So how do we position the sport to be as healthy as possible? Fix some of the lonngstanding BS that goes on (such as ending the multi-organization, multi-champions per division confusion, agree to a College football like single set of real ratings per division and matchmake accordingly, melt the the GBP/TR cold war to get their fighters up against each other again, ban catchweights, end the outsized influence of HBO on what fights get made and the Al Haymon fighter protection racket etc) which turn off its core fan base. These problems were a longtime in the making (for all the talk about the "good old days", boxing also has had a long history of shooting itself in the foot even during Camelot), but none of them are intractable. Stubborn as Arum, maybe, but not intractable.
@WILLFRANK Oh, and my point about ESPYs was not to make some grandiose claim about a silly award. I was simply pointing out that ESPN considered Lance Armstrong the biggest male superstar in sports for nearly half the years of the last decade. Yet cycling has almost no presence on ESPN.com today. This was just a way of pointing out the disparity between the perception of a superstar and the perception of his sport. Just wanted to clear that up.
@WILLFRANK I think you're conclusion and my conclusion are pretty much identical, I think we just took different roads to get there. Maybe I'm not fully understanding your comment, though.
I wasn't trying to make any PED comparisons with Manny and Lance, just a comparison of iconic figures in individual sports breaking through the ceiling of that sport's popularity. Yes, boxing has a much longer history of popularity, but that's just history. Like I responded to Fidel, horse racing was popular, an occasional horse breaks through the current ceiling, but the sport isn't really better off in the long term. It's not in bad shape, the Kentucky Derby is an event no matter who is running, it just is what it is.
confusing article. you wrote about lance then turn it on pacman. are you implying pacman to be a juicer? your proof? if you only have the mayweathers as a "credible" sources... then you have no right to write this "masterpiece".
you wrote people as naive to assume pacman will bring boxing renaissance. but you are stupid to assume your negative article will save the sport. you even imply boxing will not prosper if your ideals is not followed. what an intelectual arrogance from a moron who follows the mayweathers.
hey let's make it simple, so your mind can comprehend:
1) bob has every right to his decision not to deal with GBP idiots.
2) he has every right to deal with SHOWTIME, as HBO is under the influence of GBP.
3) it's not bob's fault if it has come to this. he had seen and suffered enough.
4) it is pacman who risked his life fighting bigger opponents... to save boxing from immenent obscurity.
5) pacman passed all drug tests conducted by state athletic commissions ... and never failed, even once. accusations of PEDs are perhaps just a product of drug addled minds of the jealous mayweathers...and you believe them.
6) if floyd is really serious about his "moral crusade" why didn't he petitioned NSAC for drug test upgrade? the mere fact he didn't present his case before the commission, only shows it was a sham...and you believed him.
7) pacman has every right to reject floyd's demands, because it is NOT required by the commission...and floyd is just a challenger. now that pacman expressed his intention to agree to floyd's stupid demands...floyd run in circles like headless chicken, and self destuct.
8) IT IS FIGHTERS LIKE FLOYD... WHO DESTROYS BOXING.
@tstarks @zdrx 1) I mentioned performance enhancing drugs and doping zero times. Zero. Anything about doping here you implied, zdrx, despite Armstrong having as many positive PED tests as Manny. So if you don't want people drawing unfounded conclusions about Manny, you should stop doing the same about Lance. This isn't about doping.
2) I mentioned Floyd once, in the list of big-selling PPV stars in boxing. Not about doping, not about Floyd.
3) I also never said that boxing was just like cycling, I was simply noting Armstrong as an athlete in a non-mainstream sport who became a major celebrity like Manny, and that his sport didn't enjoy the same boost in popularity
4) Arranging your comments in numbered lists does not make them any more persuasive or accurate. See, I did it and you probably still think I'm an idiot
5) I blame Arum AND GBP AND HBO. I think they all suck to various degrees. Arum happens to be the one who says things like, "Yesterday I was lying, today I'm telling the truth" and "I know what the fans want, and they can go fuck themselves" so I have no love lost for him. He's made his feelings about boxing fans clear; my feelings for him are similarly transparent. He's also pretty directly stated that he is intent on matching his fighters within his stable, while at least Schaefer publicly says that he'd like to work with TR. I have no issues acknowledging when Arum does something good, like getting CBS involved or donating fight proceeds to Haiti relief last year. But I'm not going to kowtow to his bullying or manipulation, and I'm not going to ignore the damage he does to boxing.
@zdrx @Scott_Kraus You're making stuff up, zdrx. You're imposing your view of what you think the author said without any evidence whatsoever -- just some loose connection you've decided to make that the author specifically did not and now has made clear with his comment to you that he did not.
I know Scott. He's written here many, many times. He's never taken the view that Pacquiao is on 'roids.
Stop projecting. Start reading and comprehending.
@Scott_Kraus1) lance had been accused of PED in cycling. writing about lance then switch the subject to pacman, smells doping topic. this amounts to suggesting pacman is on PEDs.
2) voicing your "concern" that boxing just like cycling, will not prosper implies pacman is to blame because of doping concern. to blame pacman is tantamount to judging that pacman is guilty. this is a mayweather stand.
3) blaming bob arum over GBP...on fights that were never made because of rivalry...shows your ignorance on the politics that transpired between and behind them. are you a writer?
your article seems innocent...but loaded. you write with seeming neutrality...but leaning on something. this is hypocrisy... and you assume that all readers are stupid.
@zdrx Reading comprehension: 1, You: 0.
My 2 Cents
- no one cared about cycling in the USA until Armstrong. Boxing however has a long great history, with fans from the past who are coming back.
- what is it with the Arum bashing? Last time I checked, there as a "superfight" which got screwed up and I'm pretty sure Arum wasn't involved. Check with Tim Starks. Who's JCJr fighting? Well, who's Sergio Martinez fighting? Who's Marquez fighting - why was no one blowing up when he was lining up Morales? Arum to blame for these as well?
- there was about 50 reports of how the "superfight" showed best vs the best isn't always the best. Even Iole said matching styles to guarantee explosion is the way to go
- I'm a casual UFC fan. I've some idea who the best are but not really. I watch fighters with records of 12-8, but i'll still watch if its a good fight. Thats what boxing needs. Just good fights. Good fights dont have to be best vs the best. Frankly, the casual fan doesn't care who promotes who.
@Fidel You're right about cycling. I can easily counter with horse racing. Every few years, a horse captures the imagination of the public and gets a lot of press and attention, usually when they're vying for a Triple Crown. One of these years, a horse will actually win the Triple Crown and be a huge star. Horse racing movies are even recently successful (if you want to make tie-ins with "The Fighter" and its success). But the sport is still a niche sport and that isn't changing.
As far as Arum is concerned, you get what you give. He's a divisive figure, and if you want to throw your support behind him, knock yourself out. Personally, I think he's a vampire sucking the life out of the sport. I consider myself a boxing fan (pretty tough to dispute), and when he said, "The fans can go fuck themselves," [paraphrasing] he declared war. I fail to see what he has done to garner the loyalty from certain segments that he enjoys.
I think Iole is generally great but, frankly, dismissing matching the best fighters against each other because one fight happened to be lackluster is extreme knee-jerk idiocy. There have been terrible, terrible Super Bowls (Giants-Ravens) and amazing Super Bowls that nobody expected to be all that good (Steelers-Cardinals). Matching the best with the best is ALWAYS worthwhile, otherwise you might as well kill the sport. And I am a casual MMA fan too (not just UFC, but MMA), and while UFC is good at making competitive undercard fights, Anderson Silva and George St. Pierre still headline a lot of PPVs and those guys have been in some TERRIBLE fights (especially Silva sometimes). But they win, and they're the best, so they headline. It's about balancing a card, not just blindly forcing action fight after action fight together without any consideration of trying to figure out who is the best. You're talking about the media narrative about what UFC presents, not what their actual cards look like.
By the end of each year, boxing ALWAYS winds up with some good fights. It's bound to happen. It's going to take more to make the sport healthy.
concerning the continuation of the popularity of boxing, you cant tell, dictate nor predict the next generation rising from the ruins of the past. but if you think pacquiao wont make a difference, you're a fool mr writer. already a couple of fighers starting to take their inspiration from pacquiao. one is nonito donaire, a potential next pacquiao... another was this movie "the fighter" by mark wahlberg who studied pacquiao training.
you cant downplay his influence and achievements mr writer...
@nashingun Rocky was influenced by Chuck Wepner, does that mean Wepner was boxing's savior in the 80s? I didn't say he wouldn't make a difference (see lines like, "Pacquiao has certainly had a tangibly positive impact on the sport of boxing."), I simply said that his massive popularity should not be used to gloss over the other ills in the sport. I'm not downplaying anything, simply offering a different perspective.
pacquiao made a big difference, period!
during the time floyd mayweather jr is yet the reigning p4p king boxing has been losing its savor from fans around the world due to boring style in boring. when pacquiao came to the picture we can say he gave us the bright light we need to get back. MMA is the new era of sports and you cant deny the fact that it is farely entertaining than boxing. but MMA is a mixture of many sports not just boxing so we cant compare the two alone.
during the time of ali, boxing was just coming from its stone age era of style to dancing ali and dirty talking... but after leonard, hagler and hearns and tyson the trend starts to die down till floyd mayweather jr became the icon of boxing which we know brought the drought.
for now pacquiao still gives the sting of boxing and i know we love what he's giving us. forget mayweather jr, pacquiao saved this sport.
@nashingun Poor Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Arturo Gatti, Mickey Ward, Roy Jones, Bernard Hopkins... apparently they never even existed. And here I was thinking they had. Thank you all for the enlightenment.
After the Golden Age of boxing when Ali and then Sugar Ray Leonard reigned supreme, the boxing world was populated by African Americans who defined themselves as slick fighters and trumpet the style of "hit but don't get hit" characterized by running, circling, back-pedalling and occasional counter-punching primarily aimed at scoring points and secondarily creating knock-out opportunities. Because of this trend, the casual fans naturally got bored and only the true, blue fans were left. Boxing has entered a period of decay. Of course there were a multitude of factors like the birth of UFC, HBO's hold on the sport, squabbles involving Top Rank and GBP, etc. but no one can deny that the quality of fights directly impinges on the popularity of boxing. With the emergence of Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire who have the entertaining style of strategic offense and staccato attack casual fans are attracted and yearn for more action. One man does not make a savior but one man surely, may start the fire burning so that other stakeholders like this writer of the above article follow and contribute in a way not by casting negative views but by seizing the spirit of the time in joining the bandwagon that strives to bring boxing to it rightful, exalted place in sports.
@MarcialBenefacio Sorry, I'll stop thinking and hop on that bandwagon, post haste! Before I do, I'd just like to point out that your racist fiction is laughably absurd.
You have to look at boxing as it is before when Pacquiao is not around
There was no more crazy following of sorts or any buzz with interest from people talking about the sports The heavyweights no longer bears any weight at all But now boxing talk are fun and sometimes conversation gets radical just to defend each prefered fighter Even if there are issues that makes the sports controversial like bloodtest or promoters war, still boxing is vibrant and flourishing like never before because of ...admit it or not ...THE PACMAN!
@PanSytangco Boxing has flourished plenty before, the 3 biggest sports in the US between WWI and WWII were boxing, baseball, and horse racing.
hahahahahaha !!!!the writer is just semply nothing write and almost all writers are in lined with the triump and recognazation of manny pacquiao, this writer went on opposite direction to be recognize hahahahaha!!!by the way whos is this writer an american? hehehehehe ok!!! continue with your work you need also to eat hahahahahaha!! interesting!!!!!
Although poorly written, this article does make a valid point, that Arum and his cohorts will squander this perfect opportunity to bring Boxing back to the American mainstream. Arum is at the cusp of history. So, what will it be? What will prevail? Legacy or Greed? Old habits die hard. Old, bad habits specially. I say Greed Shall Prevail. LOL.
i found the articlle a little choppy. i mean you started out with Armstrong, then Pacquiao and i thought the article would be some inspiring piece comparing both men but instead it sort of fell. i dont know, i just didn't follow it. if i were new to boxing and read this the first time i wouldn't care either way which is understandable but i'm not new to boxing and i still don't care either way.
sorry just wasn't good reading.
Scott Kraus, yes you're wrong. Pacquiao is the all time great and you must recognize his achievements and contributions to boxing. All of it are tangible and not imaginary.
It is not the promoters who will dictate the future of boxing. It is the boxer's performance and ability. Boxing is an art.
@taga_ilog Well, a third fight with Marquez seemed natural and was ignored. Now Arum is talking about it for November, but I'll believe it when I see it. Otherwise, I'd rather have seen him in with any of the top 140 guys, like Bradley or Khan. Andre Berto would have made some sense. Not giving Margarito an 8-figure payday would have made sense. Matching up the best fighter in the world with guys who had won at least consecutive fights beforehand would have been nice.
I'm not accusing Pac of ducking anyone, by the way. I genuinely believe he would fight anybody, any time. I just think he listens to Bob, and Arum clearly doesn't care about making fan-friendly fights, he cares about squeezing out as many golden eggs as he can while he's got the goose. Which is his business, but it's highly frustrating.
@Scott_Kraus Come on.. you did not read news? Bob put all the possible opponents, then it is Pacquiao to hand pick. Can you name some opponents that Pacquiao and Arum did not fight?
Bob even said "Mayweather is the first priority". But what we can do? The latter is not ready to fight Pacquiao.
@taga_ilog Taga_ilog, thank you for telling me I am wrong. I'm pretty sure I recognized and admired his achievements and contributions. But if Pacquiao dictates his future, than why does he fight whoever Arum tells him to?
if you have the style of boxing that is not boring you can attract crowds, young generation thses days wants full-packed actions. Just imagine billions of dollars being generated from the online gaming where majority of the games are related to sports and actions. Pacquiao has what it takes to put boxing in the limelight again. He's not your typical boxer who wants to cash in and then go but he's a boxer that entertains the crowd, unlike Floyd, flashing those money on TVs...its like telling to the public im rich and i duped you! Hopefully American people will realize...
@GoOut As an avid micro-stakes player, I can attest that there is absolutely nothing more action-packed than online poker. Nothing.
While I do think Pacquiao's increase in profile could have some long-term benefits for the sport, your argument is sound.
One other issue I think is not addressed frequently enough are the insane ticket prices for all halfway-decent boxing cards. If there's no way for a casual fan to get anywhere near the ring for less than a few hundred bucks then it's pretty hard to build followings for top fighters who lack big names.
@StiffJab Thanks, and I couldn't agree with you more, SJ. I go to far fewer cards than I used to because it's ridiculously expensive to see boxing live, especially for good seats.
yap... it starts as an opportunity... the achievement will come later.. it doesn't matter that you are pessimist or that you will be wrong... or that we are optimist and will be proven right... boxing will achieve something we might not know yet.. for who can tell the facts of the future? it's not only becuase of pacquiao and the other greats who opened the doors of opportunity... it's not because bob arum is already old together with that schaefer guy and will eventually be succeded by equally competent and hopefully audience-oriented promoters.. it is moslty i believe because we will still be here watching, paying, and anticipating the next fight/s of our heroes... whoever they are.
"but they are not enough to raise the profile and popularity of the sport alone. Manny has re-opened doors long considered locked down forever, but for boxing this represents only an opportunity, not an achievement. " - lol this is the most stupid article iv'e ever read in my whole life