Heavyweight Unification Tournament? Letís Do It!

14.06.06 - By Craig Parrish: For years now, we have heard promoters rattling on and on about a mythical ďunification tournamentĒ that will once and for all decide who is the man in the heavyweight division. It seems like we hear of it at the end of every fight and at many press conferences and interviews. Yet, nothing has been done. I would venture to say that there has been no effort actually made to turn this idea into reality. The promoters dangle this in front of the fans like a carrot and expect us to keep believing, year after year, that this is going to happen. It wonít.

Letís face it, most promoters know that they will make more money representing multiple Heavyweight champs instead of one and there is a distinct possibility with Wladimir Klitschko being involved, that they may wind up with none. Are the promoters going to take that risk? I would say there is a better chance of them getting a crew cut. With multiple champs, they can stage more pay per views over a given period of time and theoretically make more cash. Apparently, the quality or level of interest in those pay per views makes no difference. Quantity takes precedence over quality and in the end, who wins? Well, as far as I can tell, nobody. Except the various promoters.

The problem I see with this approach is this: When the supply is too great, the demand goes down. By staging multiple pay per view fights with lackluster cards, even the hard-core fan gets frustrated and decides that they are going to watch the re-run of the Ali-Frazier fight on ESPN classic that night. So now the demand is down. Less money is generated. The fighters make less money. And we still donít have a unified champion.

I listen to a lot of sports radio. It seems like nearly every sport is discussed at length with the exception of boxing. The only time I have heard anyone on the radio even mention the sport is when Floyd Patterson recently passed away. Oftentimes when Showtime or HBO advertise boxing, they are still showing images of Mike Tyson. I would venture to say there are many people out there who still think Tyson is the champ. Doesnít that seem like a sign that heavyweight boxing has fallen out of the mainstream? And by creating more meaningless match-ups, it is not helping.

Recently, it seems that there has been a bit of resurgence of interest in the sport. The heavyweight division is starting to revitalize itself. Just in the past few months we have seen some very thrilling bouts such as Klitschko/Peter and Brewster/Liakovich. Neither of these fight were pay per view although they were on premium cable. This is definitely a step in the right direction. Now is the time to capitalize on these good decisions and actually try to unify the title. Give the people a champion.

Set a hard date for the final title fight. The tournament itself could contain a series of elimination matches staged on premium cable. This will get more viewers to watch these events and generate interest in the final bout. As the date draws nearer, do an advertising blitz. Then, have the final title fight as a pay per view event. Now even though there have been less pay per views over this period of time, the number of buys would probably be significantly higher as interest has been built up on cable. So money will still be made, and the heavyweight division will have a face, one face, that people can recognize as CHAMP. Now when you have pay per views with this fighter defending his title it has some meaning. This would be best for the sport and everyone would still make plenty of money. Perhaps more.

Yes, I realize this is idealistic and probably naÔve. But as we are constantly tempted with the concept of a unification tournament, is it too much to ask for somebody to actually do something? Make an effort? The fighters are out there and I guarantee, all of them would love to hold the title ďundisputed heavyweight champion of the worldĒ. A tournament is a great idea, and the time has come. Letís do it.

But donít hold your breath.

Article posted on 14.06.2006

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