“Boxing is Bullshit” Or: Why MMA is King of Combat Sports
Paulie Malignaggi, disgust written all over his face, all over his body language, repeated the mantra:
“Boxing is bullshit.”
With those words, Paulie Malignaggi summed up the feelings of so many combat sports fans, and answered exactly why it is that boxing is commonly referred to as a dying sport, especially in terms of comparison with its more dynamic sibling, Mixed Martial Arts.
Malignaggi had fought a close fight against Juan Diaz in Diaz’s hometown of Houston, Texas, one which most observers, including this one, thought he had taken by a round or two. Unfortunately for Paulie, the only observers that counted, the judges, all saw it the other way, with one judge laughably awarding ten of the twelve rounds to Diaz.
Although Paulie and his supporters were complaining of a robbery, this was too close a fight to fit that description; still, that one judge’s scorecard — ten rounds to two — sticks in the craw as so egregious (if you watched the fight, there’s simply no way to reasonably explain the score) that it should in the future become some sort of shorthand reference to the corruptibility of judicial scoring in boxing. Given Malignaggi’s heartfelt and memorable post-fight promo, this might indeed come to pass.
Boxing is bullshit, everyone has known it for decades, and now there’s a boxer screaming it in the ring after he’s on the losing end of a decision he believes he deserves. Fans watching — even those who believe Diaz won — know that ten rounds to two is a travesty. The worst part about this is how unsurprising it all is. Boxing fans have actually become conditioned to expect a screwjob if a fight goes the distance.
If asked to name the promoter to have gained the most from boxing’s skulduggery many would probably name Don King, but I want to suggest another: Dana White. Much has been made of all that UFC and Dana White have done right in terms of growing their business, but I wouldn’t underestimate the value to UFC in all that boxing has done wrong. At the very least, in a parallel universe where over the last 15 years the top boxers fought the top boxers, and decisions were not obviously corrupt, UFC would have had a much more difficult time making inroads against the established sport. We’ve reached the point now, in 2009, where boxing matches that would have been placed on ppv a year or two ago, and would have provided at least some level of competition against UFC, are now airing on HBO pay cable.
On September 19, there’s going to be a lot of talk about MMA (UFC 103) vs. boxing (Mayweather/Juan Manuel Marquez) as the UFC and Mayweather pay-per-views go head-to-head, but the fact of the matter is that discussing the ppv battle at that level of generality, MMA vs. boxing, is either ignorant or disingenuous. It’s not MMA that’s huge; rather, it’s UFC whose business is booming. Likewise, what Mayweather is able to draw on ppv has no relation at all to the state of boxing’s health. I fully expect Mayweather to outdraw 103 on ppv (based primarily on UFC’s lackluster line-up), perhaps significantly, and for the ”Bible of Boxing,” The Ring, to make way more of it than it deserves, but the real story was told last week, in Houston, Texas, for anyone bothering to listen.