Thirty years ago, the sport of the toughest men around the world was, without a doubt, boxing. The myriad Rocky films stand as just a small testament to the powerful grip boxing had as the number one gladiator style sporting event around. Yet within the past decade, another fighting challenge has evolved: mixed martial arts.
Unlike boxing, which is all about striking ability, MMA training combines upper and lower body forms of skill and strategy – including muay thai, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and yes, boxing – into an extreme competition that is a test of endurance, athletic ability, and intelligence. MMA is dynamic, multi-leveled, and intoxicating. Some say it goes places boxing never can, and yet many others disagree stating boxing combines skill with endurance that many MMA fighters could hardly attempt to match.
The problem that boxing faces is that as MMA has risen in popularity, it has attracted the eyes of the young talent that would, in an earlier generation perhaps, ended up as boxing champs. However, the fact still remains: boxers make millions more per year than MMA fighters ever could. Not only that, fighters like Mayweather and Pacquaio are seen as champions to both younger generations and old. There are many MMA fighters that are respected as well, but are still surpassed in popularity by Mayweather and Pacquaio.
An area that boxing has a leg up compared to MMA involve regulations. More states are willing to allow boxing because it’s a time honored sport. MMA, on the other hand, is not allowed in some states such as New York because of what is falsely perceived to be the brutal nature of the sport. Those state guidelines are changing, but not quickly enough.
Both sports seem equally publicized on cable networks and via pay-per-view. HBO, Spike, Showtime, and even NBC and CBS are getting in on the action with these sports. The two are pitted against one another, and advertisers are equally interested in both.
At the end of the day, it is hard to tell if boxing is truly a dying sport. MMA is no doubt on the rise in popularity as boxing continues to lose some of it’s audience base. But in the end….do we really care? If you’re like us, you are an avid spectator (or fighter) in both sports and have respect for each discipline.
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