13.10.05 – By Joseph Carlo Russo: Boxing has long been a sport notoriously plagued by controversy, corruption, dispute, and greed. Abolition of the game has always lingered in the back of the minds of politicians who oppose. However, thankfully, boxing still possesses the power to lure tens of thousands of fans to fights and hundreds of thousands of fans to television sets. yet, what happens when fights are made inaccessible because of outrageous pay-per-view prices, which serve only to exacerbate the current state of the game, as it continues to be ravaged in superfluous weight classes and futile belts?
We all remember the tale of Barrerra vs. Fana, the forty-five dollar pay-per-view that didn’t even offer a buildup because there was none. You know, the one where Barrerra hits the unknown contender with a clean shot and he falls to the mat only to have the referee deny him a count, even though he gets up anyway. The card also included one of the most unexciting little men in the sport in Fernando Montiel. Enough said there.
My very favorite pay-per-view event this year was actually one that I did not order, but the sheer comedic thought of it did much for entertaining me. I believe it was Shannon Briggs vs. Ray Mercer. Originally, I thought there was some sort of joke involved here when I heard this was a pay-per-view. As if the heavyweight division isn’t experiencing enough of a downward spiral, we have to pay to see these aged, pastrami-gutted, blubberballs now?
Another one in which the sheer audacity of the promoters and networks impressed me was the Barrett vs. Rahman “special hugfest,” or maybe it was “attraction,” or was it “eliminator,” well hugfest seems most fit. Here, you have two fighters, one a journeyman coming off a couple of solid wins, and the other a guy that no one has heard about in years because I thought everyone was supposed to forget about him when Lewis knocked his block off. But, apparently, he’s achieved stardom again. In fact, his sleepfest with Monte Barrett gained him so much praise that Rahman will be showcased on pay-per-view again in his next fight with Vitali Klitschko. But, what makes this fight pay-per-view caliber? The fact that both guys lost to Lennox Lewis? That’s the only plausible solution that I can comprise. Or perhaps the reason is that the card features Vitali Klitschko, arguably the only man in the heavyweight division that does the running and actually looks and conducts himself like a real athlete. Now, there’s a scarcity in the heavyweight division! That’s something worth paying to see, right?
There is also no excuse for the Barrerra vs. Peden card. The fight contained no significant potential to even begin to contemplate making it into a pay-per-view.
Also, coming up is the much-anticipated Taylor/Hopkins II. I would imagine the only reason for this fight to qualifiedly be a pay-per-view is because there are titles at stake. But we’ve all experienced the disservice of enduring a Bernard Hopkins fight, and judging from their first encounter, Taylor isn’t much better. So, I agree that on a piece of paper this fight appears to be pay-per-view material. But, I feel that most fans, including myself, would come to terms in saying that this bout is not exactly a rational option for pay-per-view broadcasting.
So what is happening here? Is boxing just willing to dig itself its own grave while making sure to milk its fans for every last penny while it still can? Or do the promoters and networks just assume that the built-in audience is the only audience and that acquiring new fans to help keep the sport alive is not a significant enough reason to sacrifice the couple extra bucks?
Boxing is slowly, but surely disintegrating in a pool of its own flaws. With an overabundance of weight classes and an inexcusable number of belts, boxing is rapidly losing fans, and just becoming diluted in a mixture of its own ridiculous antics. The issue concerning pay-per-views only adds insult to injury. And with the recent deaths in the sport, I would say that boxing is severely wounded. Hopefully, there are enough fans who are appalled as I am, and hopefully we can let it be known to the promoters, networks, and fighters because if this sport is to survive, some crucial alterations must be made and must be made soon.