Must We Continue to Challenge Boxing?

With our respective athletes using similar work spaces, the same regulatory institutions, and enjoying a large overlap in fan bases, it’s no surprise that over the years the world has challenged leaders of the two sports – pro-wrestling and boxing – to come together in an ultimate bout to decide which sport is superior.

Despite the hype, the recent defeat of Conor McGregor now feels all too predictable – a record-breaking boxer facing at best an able pro, at his own sport – of course McGregor did not stand a chance.

Many found the fight as lacklustre as it was predictable – particularly those coming from the backdrop of MMA -indeed, the only true winners were the fighters themselves, with Mayweather coining around $100 million and McGregor $30 million.

Viewers response to the fight was perhaps dictated more by their allegiance to MMA or boxing than to a technical analysis of the fight itself. Certainly, McGregor’s fan base felt that the UFC lightweight champion won the first three rounds, although only one of the official judges agreed with that. Mayweather subsequently revealed that he deliberately allowed McGregor to believe that he had the upper hand so that he would tire himself out early in the bout.

The fight itself of course caused a feeding frenzy for pundits – former pro now commentator Malignaggi blaming McGregor’s coaches for being yes men who only tell the fighter what he wants to hear rather than fighting strategy and ex-boxer now poker pro Carl Froch, landing himself in some social media hot water from McGregor fans by saying he expected more from the fighter.

This kind of novelty match is not new. On June 26th, 1976 Muhamad Ali took on Antonio Inoki, Japan’s foremost wrestler at the Bodokan Hall in Tokyo. Inoki spent most of the fifteen-round fight on the floor trying to kick Ali. Ali himself, famously threw less than a dozen punches yet made over $6 million (that’s over $500k per punch!) but it was a sad spectacle for one of the greatest boxers of all time to be engaged in.

Spectators threw litter into the ring at the end of the bout, which was declared a draw, as a gesture of their annoyance. Ali’s legs bled profusely as a result of the punishment inflicted by Inoki. They later became infected
and Ali suffered two blood clots as a result.

When ‘Andre the Giant’ took on boxer Chuck Wepner, spectators were treated to a rather livelier bout. Andre threw Wepner out of the ring in the third round and was declared victor. It was this fight that inspired Sylvester Stallone to create Rocky Balboa and perhaps the only time that this kind of bout has truly worked is in the world of imagination – when Rocky Balbao faced Thunderlips (played by Hulk Hogan and giving birth to Hulk Mania) … So, let’s leave it to our imagination and recognise that there is simply a valid divide between our two sports.