Is Boxing losing it’s popularity
Some may refer to Cassius Clay, aka Mohammed Ali, as the greatest sportsman of all time. He spent his formative years mostly out of the public eye, due to a debilitating mental illness, most likely caused by his career. People would pay fortunes to travel to Vegas to watch heavyweights in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Don King, like him or loathe him, brought heavyweights together and had the whole sporting world on their feet. Organizing events like the thriller in Manila / rumble in the jungle, was no mean feat back in the day. Following Ali, we had Iron Mike Tyson, who fired up the heavyweight division once again with his brutal knock outs.
In recent years this has changed with few fans willing to travel and pay top dollar to see 2 heavy weights dance around each other for 12 rounds of ‘ boxing ‘. Boxing enthusiasts these days are more focussed on welterweights and lightweights. The major stars of boxing in recent years being the likes of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, both welterweights and both appealing characters to the boxing public, for very different reasons.
The recent gain in popularity of cage fighting, or mixed martial arts (UFC dominates this market) you would think would take away interest from traditional boxing also. However, boxing, even with a current lull in the heavyweight division, has continued to grow in popularity. Bookmakers have seen huge sums placed on the recent Mayweather / Pacquiao bout, and ringside seats were reported as selling for $50-100000.
The heavyweight disinterest will change with time, once a new Tyson or Ali arrives. And the arrival of UFC is only going to boost interest, with possibilities of combining the sports, for one off events.