Can You Spare Some Change?

By "Old Yank" Schneider on January 29, 2012
Can You Spare Some Change?
After Mancini fought Kim, did boxing need to change 15 rounds to 12 to save the sport?

Boxing has had very few rule changes over the past five decades and virtually all of them have made the sport more boring…

Can you name a sport that has changed its rules and as a result become more boring? The NBA added the shot clock to make the game more exciting. So too did college ball. Football moved the goalposts and as a result added excitement to the game because more field goals became possible. Even tournament-level ping-pong has had its changes taking the game from 21 points to 11 points to speed up play and excitement. But boxing has had very few rule changes over the past five decades and virtually all of them have made the sport more boring. It’s time for some rule changes in boxing that bring some excitement back to the sport.

We need to raise some serious questions here. Have the rule changes made in boxing accomplished what the changes intended to accomplish? Did the rule changes make the sport better for the participants, the fans, both or neither? Is the sport more or less exciting as a result of the changes? Have the changes brought more fans to the sport? And finally, if none of these questions can be answered in a positive way, then why hasn’t the sport ushered in new rules that can make a difference?

Why was the championship distance for the length of a boxing match shortened from 15 rounds to 12 rounds? The short answer is that 15 rounds is a health hazard for the fighters and shortening the distance to 12 rounds would result in fewer injuries and fewer deaths. The skeptics answer is that 15 rounds did not conveniently fit into a one-hour broadcast slot for the major networks, and it was more commercially viable to shorten the distance from 15 to 12 rounds; leaving ample time for paid advertising. The “purists” answer is that it was the final blow in a vast and long-term conspiracy to deny the importance of “last man standing” in the historical context of the sport. The response from a typical fan would be that whatever the reason might be, shortening a championship fight from 15 rounds to 12 rounds has made the sport more boring rather than more exciting.

Why was the weight of boxing gloves changed from six and eight ounces to eight and 10 ounces? The short answer is that horsehair padding broke down so easily that having the extra padding reduced the risk that a fight would virtually become a bare-knuckle bout; and it was a health hazard to the fighters when this happened. The skeptics answer is that extra padding reduced the number of quick knockouts so commercial television did not have as much risk in having to fill the better part of an hour’s broadcast with “filler” tape. The purists answer is that a vast conspiracy was at play to allow the “ballerinas of the ring” to ply a craft that would fly in the face of paying homage to the roots of a sport bound up in a tradition that should clearly state that the “last man standing” rules the roost. The response from the typical fan is that adding padding to boxing gloves has made the sport more boring.

Why can a boxing ring be any size from 18 feet by 18 feet (an 18-foot ring), to 24 feet by 24 feet (a 24-foot ring)? Keep in mind that when the championship distance was virtually unlimited, the “official” size of the ring was a 24-foot ring. Considering the fact that eventually only one man would prevail as the last man standing, the “running space” of a 24-foot ring did not mean that much. But as the number of rounds began to get shorter and shorter, why were fighters allowed the same 24 foot “running space” as when fights were of an unlimited number of rounds? Was it not obvious that “running space” would allow for “hiding space” when the number of rounds eventually got down to 20 or 15 or 12? Was it not obvious that a 24-foot ring would allow a fighter to obscure the fact that he could not, in fact, become the last man standing? Was it not obvious that this would open the door for fighters to “look good,” to “look pretty,” to “look cute,” instead of “being good” and fighting like they wanted to become the last man standing?

What is the truth behind the health statistics and theoretical objectives of the rule changes?

Are fighters avoiding injury and death as a result of the number of rounds getting shortened from 15 to 12 in a championship fight? Nothing seemed to propel this rule change more than the ring death of Duk Koo Kim at the hands of Ray “Boom-Boom” Mancini in a 15-round bout in 1982. The sport was under global pressure. Several European countries had banned boxing and the brutality of the sport was under a microscope. Did boxing need to make the rule change to save the sport or was the safety of the fighters a real issue in a 15-round bout?

Although there is a mountain of medical evidence that supports claims that dehydration compromises nature’s way of cushioning the brain, there is absolutely no statistical evidence that shortening the championship distance from 15 rounds to 12 rounds has in any way improved the health or safety of the fighters. The number of ring deaths that happened between the 13th and 15th rounds is virtually statistically insignificant when compared to the total number of deaths between the first and 12th rounds. But let’s allow for the possibility that 12 rounds are more palatable to a society bent on banning a sport for its brutality than 15 rounds.

So if 12round bouts are to be the championship distance, then do eight and 10-ounce gloves still make sense? The truth of the matter is that nearly all makers of the popular brands of boxing gloves abandoned the use of horsehair decades ago; all of them bowing to the more resilient properties of synthetic fibers. The old “horsehair argument” for the use of more padding is absolutely and inarguably a false argument today. In addition, all significant championship bouts no longer occur on commercial, network television. All the skeptical arguments associated with reducing the number of quick knockouts for commercial purposes are gone. If we are to return to attempting to determine who could be the last man standing, then reducing glove weights back to six and eight ounces will certainly increase the number of knockouts. Too many important bouts are left in the hands of judges and this will reduce the number of decisions left to the judges. With the number of rounds shortened from 15 to 12 rounds, reducing the weight of boxing gloves from eight and 10 ounces back to six and eight ounces certainly seems to make a lot of sense.

Finally, if a bout is not to go on indefinitely, why give “running space” to a fighter who is intent on running? Let’s make the 20-foot ring the standard for championship bouts. If we want to know who is the best fighter then let’s not leave room to question who is the best runner. If we want a fight to break out, then limiting the room for a fighter to run, forces more opportunities for fighting. This is not a brain tease.

So here is the proposition: Let MMA bring to the fight fan a fighting environment that determines who can be the “last man surviving,” or return boxing to its roots of “last man standing” by ushering in overdue rule changes; rule changes that reverse the toll of boredom that was foisted upon us by unsupportable speculation about protecting the health and safety of fighters. We must reverse the skeptical view that rule changes were made for commercial gain. Let’s bring back six and eight-ounce gloves so men who have what it takes to “end it” can “end it.” Let’s standardize the ring size at 20 feet so there is no place to hide. Let’s do what every sport in the history of man has had to do in order to survive; let’s make the rule changes necessary to save our sport. Can you “spare some change?”

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Ray Mancini -vs- Duk-Koo-Kim part 1

Ray Mancini -vs- Duk-Koo-Kim part 2

Ray Mancini -vs- Duk-Koo-Kim part 3

Ray Mancini -vs- Duk-Koo-Kim part 4

Ray Mancini -vs- Duk-Koo-Kim part 5

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  1. masoud 01:28pm, 02/04/2012

    thank u

  2. "Old Yank" Schneider 07:44am, 02/01/2012

    GOOD DEBATE—And the thresher has hit the nail on the head with his point that there are so many things contributing to the relative health and ills of boxing that one cannot generalize or point to one single factor. The intent of this article was to stir debate over the merits of changing any rules and the possible impact on drawing more casual fans to the sport. Peace to all!

  3. "Old Yank" Schneider 07:40am, 02/01/2012

    TRIVIA—From a medical research article: “...a chemical called neurofilament light or NFL, which is released when nerve cells are damaged, is four times higher than normal in boxers after a fight and up to eight times higher when there have been more than 15 high-impact hits to the head. It takes about three months for levels to return to normal after a fight.” Research of this caliber was not available when the championship distance was shortened from 15 rounds to 12. There is a significant amount of research that suggest fighter safety could be much better served by mandatory time-off periods between bouts being extended rather than shortening the length of a bout.

  4. "Old Yank" Schneider 07:09am, 02/01/2012

    Japan might be experiencing a resurgence in superstar admiration that has led to a few fighters experiencing amazing viewership. And it is undeniable that some recent bouts in Japan have blown the doors off “Neilson-like” ratings. But like Pacquiao’s ability to sell 40,000 seats in Dallas Stadium, these blowout events are far from the norm.

  5. "Old Yank" Schneider 04:33am, 02/01/2012

    the thresher—Using expense as an excuse for why fans are not showing up does not fly. Try taking the kids to a ball game and see how fast your wallet gets emptied. All pro sports are expensive today.

  6. "Old Yank" Schneider 04:21am, 02/01/2012

    The resurgence in Japan has been the caliber of fighters, not a rising popularity of the sport.

  7. "Old Yank" Schneider 06:12pm, 01/31/2012

    the thresher—Take a shot…(and I’ve got the stats from a Japan TV ratings service)—TV ratings for boxing programs in Japan are on the rise or decline over the past 5 years? And…any insistence that boxing reform has had no effect on boxing popularity is far from settled. We all remember outcries from fans over the distance change where they swore they would never return to watching boxing ever again. None of them kept their promise? C’mon!

  8. The Thresher 05:42pm, 01/31/2012

    “Gee, if he found it entertaining and exciting, he’d show up!”

    They do show up to club events, but boxing has made it too expensive for them to show up to prime events. That has nothing to do with bordom. Why can’y you seem to get that?

    The average fan is not going to spend a fortune to get into the MGM Grand to watch a fight, but he or she will pay to get into the Hard Rock Casino or the Asylum in Philly.

    This is not an issue in Canada, PR, Mexico, Argentina, Thailand, The Philippines, Japan, Eastern Europe, Italy, the UK,  South Africa, Ghana, and more countries than I can name where boxing is a popular and exciting activity, but is structured diffrently than in the US. and with that compelling argument (aka KO) I hearby say good debate, good night, and goodbye.

  9. the thresher 05:30pm, 01/31/2012

    Of course, we could always have a Holly Holm fight to satisfy the sadistic proclivity of those who tend to rubber neck at the site of a bloody and terrible highway accident. Unreal. Simply unreal

  10. the thresher 05:28pm, 01/31/2012

    Again and for the final time, boxing reform had absolutley nothing to do with its falling from a prime sport to a secondary one. The evolving structure of boxing vs. the evolving popularity of the other major sports (in the US) is what has made boxing something different than what it was in the ‘50s -‘70s.

    The Kim debacle had zero to do with this as did the 15-12 round move. No cause and effect. Every boxing historian well knows what has happened to US boxing. I have it documented somewhere in my writings but I am not about to thumb through over 1,000 articles.

    South Korea is a great example. Boxing has decllined tremendously as a male activity, but golf, speed skating and soccer have exploded.

    But in Japan, boxing is more popular than ever with many new champions coming onto the world stage.

    Bottom line: To generalize on this subject is just plain wrong. And I can prove this beyond any doubt whatsoever country by country if I have to. But I do have other things to which to attend.

  11. "Old Yank" Schneider 05:19pm, 01/31/2012

    pugknows—Fair question. I do not find boxing boring. However, the absence of boxing’s return to anything resembling mainstream, suggests that the masses do not find boxing sufficiently entertaining enough to show up on a regular basis. I love boxing! I find great entertainment in the nuances—like paying attention to if a fighter is fighting off his front or back foot, or how well he cuts off a ring, or how many different punches he’s brought with him into the ring. But I’m like most of the serious guys reading and posting and writing about boxing. I do not represent a potential mainstream fan. For that potential new fan (to be drawn out of the mainstream of sports fans), his absence from attendance or viewership tells us that he find the sport boring. Gee, if he found it entertaining and exciting, he’d show up!

  12. the thresher 05:04pm, 01/31/2012

    Meant for Yank. Not pug

    But now that you bring it up, no, it’s not boring—it’s just structured poorly.

  13. the thresher 04:25pm, 01/31/2012

    No however. Maybe in the U.S.. No argument, but worldwide—-no way. The world is not the U.S., particularly the boxing world.

  14. pugknows 03:18pm, 01/31/2012

    Are you saying boxing is boring?

  15. "Old Yank" Schneider 02:02pm, 01/31/2012

    HOWEVER! The second paragraph of this article opens with the following urging and follow-up question: “We need to raise some serious questions here. Have the rule changes made in boxing accomplished what the changes intended to accomplish?” Have ring deaths and brain bleeds and serious injury persisted following the reduction of rounds from 15 to 12 for the championship distance? The answer is a resounding ‘yes!” In fact, the statistical evidence suggests that shortening the distance has not reshaped tragedy in the ring at all! The statistics persist that these tragedies happen more often inside 6 rounds than in any other period in a bout. So the very serious question is asked, “Have the rule changes made in boxing accomplished what the changes intended to accomplish?” The evidence says the rule changes have not accomplished the goal of making boxing safer. It did accomplish the goal of fitting a championship bout into a commercial 1-hour time slot. So what has been reformed? ANSWER: Nothing relevant to today’s boxing landscape! What is the new reality (without arguing cause and effect)? ANSWER: A sport that has lost tons of casual fans and is relegated to niche or cult status and far removed from the more mainstream status it once enjoyed in the 1930’s, ‘40’s, ‘50’s, ‘60’s and ‘70’s.

  16. "Old Yank" Schneider 02:01pm, 01/31/2012

    the thresher—And that is some truly great info you add to your position. Persuasive!

  17. "Old Yank" Schneider 01:00pm, 01/31/2012

    Of course, back then, there was going to be a huge negative public backlash for shortening the distance from 15 to 12 rounds—purists of the day did not want tradition messed with. The outcry was angry and loud indeed. And shortening the distance for money and TV commercials was among the worst reasons to use to “sell” the idea to boxing fans. So many believe that the Kim tragedy posed a convenient excuse for the money-men to have what they needed to sell their case. There was no statistical evidence for reform back then and this remains the case today. The commercial reasoning is much more difficult to refute than it is to support baseless reform over a near one-off event in the last rounds. The opinion that the distance was shortened for commercial reasons is widely held and I’m not some crazy man posing a proposition that has not been widely debated and discussed long before this article was written.

  18. "Old Yank" Schneider 12:51pm, 01/31/2012

    the thresher - I said the loss of free TV commercial appeal coincided with the rule change, not the cause of it. In fact, there are many who suggest that the change from 15 to 12 rounds was prompted by trying to SAVE boxing on free TV by making championship boxing of 12 rounds fit more commercially into a 1-hour time slot. As for all the greats/near greats (and entertainers) you mentioned (Cobb, Shavers, Norton, Holmes, Leonard, Hearns, Mintner, Hagler. Mancini, Arguello), nearly all of them achieved greatness (status) in the period when 15 rounds was the championship distance. Kinda making my point for me, don’t you think? And again, no personal offense was ever intended in any prior posts. I can’t find the offending post so please know that none was intended or perhaps I read/write my words very differently than you interpret them and I am open to having that pointed out.

  19. the thresher 11:53am, 01/31/2012

    Floyd Mayweather Jr. rules boxing and beats Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton in mega fights. De La Hoya-Mayweather II is being lined up but Mayweather “retires.” Is Oscar wearing out his welcome? A kid named Pavlik excites boxing fans as he destroys opponents with a savage ferocity. But a guy named Margarito raises the bar when it comes to savage ferocity. His fight with Miguel Cotto is a classic. Paul Williams lurks And something else looms and it involves lousy Pay Per View fights that should not be Pay Per View.

    Is this the future?

    Online boxing writers now do their thing, and boxing magazines begin to disappear. Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions buys Ring Magazine. Say what? Calzaghe beats Kessler in a global mega fight and then beats an aging Hopkins.A guy named Manny Pacquiao explodes onto the scene and thrills fans everywhere. He is the new Mr Charisma.”

    Mike Quarry dies of pugilistic dementia; he is only 55. Incredibly,

  20. the thresher 11:45am, 01/31/2012

    Boxing experiences turmoil from 1980 through 1989. The end of universally recognized champions comes in the late
    1970s, as the WBC and WBA begin to recognize different champions and top contenders. This becomes the era of multiple champions, unworthy mandatory challengers, and general corruption and confusion that come to be associated with sanctioning bodies in later years. Boxing morphs toward the casino industry, and public broadcasts begin to be replaced by closed-circuit. Can pay-per-view be far away?

  21. the thresher 11:44am, 01/31/2012

    Big boppers like Cobb, Shavers and Norton do a round robin. It’s frightful stuff, but the heavyweight division belongs to Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson, as the World Boxing Association (WBA), the World Boxing Council (WBC), and the International Boxing Federation (IBF) compete for which truly produces the world’s heavyweight champion. Tyson is to the 80’s what Liston was to the 60’s. He terrorizes and becomes a lightning rod in plain sight. Tony Tucker holds an IBF title for a short while, but surely that does not mean he is a better fighter than Jerry Quarry of the 70’s who never did?

  22. the thresher 11:43am, 01/31/2012

    The decade is a memorable time in boxing. Marvin Hagler destroys Alan Minter in 1980. The boxing world waits for Leonard and Hearns in 1981, Holmes-Cooney in 1982, Hagler-Hearns in 1985 and Sugar Ray Leonard-Hagler in 1987. No PPV back then. Wow! It’s free. Leonard, Duran, Hearns, Hagler and Lalonde were all in the 80’s. Great fights include Hagler-Mugabi, Mancini-Arguello, Holmes-Spinks and Ali’s final fight against Berbick. Duran-Barkley and Chacon-Boza-Edwards were also in the 1980’s. Wow!

    Leonard replaces Ali as the right man for the right time. His charisma permeates. Hagler, Hearns, Duran and Leonard face off against one another in an unofficial round robin and Sugar comes out on top. Mega fights are now held and the participants get mega bucks. Arguello and Pryor go to the brink in a savage battle. AND Deuk Koo Kim and Ray Mancini go beyond the brink. Only one returns.

  23. the thresher 11:39am, 01/31/2012

    “Coincidently, rule changes that are discussed on my article, reasonably fit into a time line where boxing lost its commercial appeal on free TV.”

    Poppycock! The 15-12 was changed in response to an overreaction to Mancini-Kim. It was done IMO to appease those who were once again calling for an end to boxing as they always do after a fatality. Back then, however, boxing was super popular in 1982.

    Light heavyweight Bob Foster is the sheriff in town. Bantamweight Ruben Olivares has a happy smile and devastating power. Napoles, Monzon, Chacon, Benvenuti, and Griffith thrill fans everywhere. Bennie Briscoe lurks and is BAD.

    Names like Fletcher, Roldan, Parker, Scypion, Ramos, Green and Mugabi provide great entertainment in the middleweight division. When John “The Beast” Mugabi knocks out Frank “The Animal” Fletcher in 1984, the monikers are closer to reality than one might think. Another animal type, Tony “El Torito” Ayala Jr. makes it all too real and his next fiight is not until 1999.What could have been…..

  24. "Old Yank" Schneider 10:22am, 01/31/2012

    Trivia Point: Floyd Patterson (and his handlers) were the first to regularly experiment with pay-for, closed-circuit broadcasts of boxing matches.

  25. "Old Yank" Schneider 10:15am, 01/31/2012

    Montero—True enough. But I would argue that, in part, boxing is no longer on free TV because it has lost so many casual fans that the business side of TV no longer has any real interest in boxing because it has lost so much commercial appeal. Sticking with the tennis example, it retains enough commercial appeal (for free TV broadcasters), that over 100 men tennis pros earned over $100,000 last year in prize money. Tournaments could buy TV time, pay players their prize money and earn enough in advertising revenue to make it all work. We have far fewer than 200 boxing pros earning over $100,000 a year. I could argue that tennis (with all of its expense in prize money and TV buying expenses) attracts enough of an audience to be commercially viable whereas boxing is no longer commercially viable on free TV because so many casual fans have left that it is no longer a money-maker on free TV. Coincidently, rule changes that are discussed on my article, reasonably fit into a time line where boxing lost its commercial appeal on free TV.

  26. Montero 09:50am, 01/31/2012

    Yank - it’s true that tennis has more viewership, but consider that its on “free” TV and usually on the weekend during the day where there’s very little competition. Boxing is mostly on premium cable and the big events are on PPV - and on a Saturday night, when people have the greatest number of entertainment options. Again, its hard to compare…

    How do you stand on Instant Replay?  I think that’s a rule boxing needs to take on asap!  Imagine how it would’ve changed outcomes like Peterson-Kahn.

  27. "Old Yank" Schneider 09:34am, 01/31/2012

    the thresher—It is not necessary to have proof when a reform is made? What is being reformed if no one can prove the a change does anything at all?

  28. "Old Yank" Schneider 09:32am, 01/31/2012

    the thresher—You lost me! I was enjoying the banter. If I posted a personal affront, please point it out so I can apologize—none was intended.

  29. "Old Yank" Schneider 09:29am, 01/31/2012

    Montero—Point well made. So let’s look at other one-on-one sports. Tennis anyone?  The US Open has attracted over 750,000 ticket buyers for the last 5 years (more than all of the Super-Six boxing matches combined by a country mile). The US Open tournament attracted over 51 million TV viewers (the Super-Six Tournament—fewer than 10 million in total). The men’s final at the US Open attracted a Neilson rating of 2.6 (about 3.3 million viewers). I would argue that compared to soccer, football, baseball and basketball, tennis is a niche sport. The finals of nearly every major tennis tournament attract a few million more viewers than the largest record viewership of a boxing match since the rules have changed in boxing.

  30. the thresher 09:25am, 01/31/2012

    And oh by the way, if you are going to post a controversial article, you had best be prepared to take the heat that comes with push back. It comes with the territory and is part of the learning process. Hell even we posters can be have a compelling (non-pedantic) point of view every once in a while, particularly if we say IMO.

    These are debates—nothing more; nothing less.

  31. the thresher 09:14am, 01/31/2012

    Gee, I wondered all long it would take before you resorted to that kind of post. Have a nice day, champ.

  32. "Old Yank" Schneider 09:13am, 01/31/2012

    The NFL had footage of helmet to helmet spearing and resulting serious injury to base reforms on. They had PROOF!

  33. "Old Yank" Schneider 09:12am, 01/31/2012

    The NFL had countless feet of video footage of chop blocks and resulting serious injury to base its reforms on. They had PROOF!

  34. "Old Yank" Schneider 09:09am, 01/31/2012

    Reform means a hell of lot more than safety for the fighters! It is associated with the financial health of the sport, corruption, licensing, health and safety, retirement and more. And at BEST one can SPECULATE that reducing the championship distance from 15 to 12 rounds and adding padding contributed to improvements in fighter health. SHOW ME THE PROOF! Reforming a sport based on speculation that cannot be supported with proof is not REFORM—it is speculation and guess work!

  35. the thresher 09:05am, 01/31/2012

    That is all—-for now—as I have to shovel snow and scrape ice.

  36. the thresher 09:03am, 01/31/2012

    “We can reform the sport into oblivion…”

    Reform means safety for the fighters. If that is something you see as bad for boxing or hurting the “fan-base,” my suggestion to you is that you move to Thailand. Or, you might consider telling the NFL powers that the chop block and spearing should be brought back to appeal to out “sick mentality.

    And no more helmets for baseball players so that maybe we can see a neat bean ball accident every once and a while.

    This is not a Charles Bronson movie or Claude van Dam doing a kickboxing fantasy. Boxing is as real and as dangerous as it can get.

    Let’s get it out into the open, if you think having a quasi-sadistic desire to uncover the dark side of boxing in the ring will add to its fan base, I think you are sadly and badly mistaken and totally out of touch with what the real problems in boxing are today.

  37. the thresher 08:54am, 01/31/2012

    Montero has the beat. It has nothing to do with boredom and everything to do with structure and control.

  38. "Old Yank" Schneider 08:53am, 01/31/2012

    the thresher—None of us “purists” come to boxing the same way a casual fan might. And boxing reform might be well-served to focus a bit on expanding the fan base. We can reform the sport into oblivion if we are not careful.

  39. Montero 08:51am, 01/31/2012

    Yes but those are team sports set up by leagues where the league gets the lion’s share of the money. There are corporate sponsors, deals with the city to build arenas, etc.  Boxing is a solo sport, no league, where a top fighter might fight 2-3 times a year.  Those fights are individual events, each different than the last.  There is no Superbowl, no March Madness, etc.  It’s like comparing apples to oranges - just two entirely different things.  Even back in boxing’s “golden years” its not like there were 50K fans watching a fight in every city each weekend - there were a few big events a year.  Same thing today, except they are usually in casinos. To me the biggest problem is that we don’t see enough local/club cards in cities all over the USA - it’s all in Vegas or AC.

  40. the thresher 08:40am, 01/31/2012

    “...who might very well find contact sports appealing to the sick blood-sport mentality in all of us that causes us to crane our necks as we pass an accident.”

    Speak for yourself with this perspective. That is not my mentality.

    I also assume you are not speaking for the entire boxing world here? I am.

    I told you this was my opinion and I shall stand by each and every word.  You focus on just one aspect-15-12—but tend to ignore or deflect the other points all of which have may have reduced the number of fans but have NOT made boxing more boring.

    As far as a last man standing perspective, I personally condemn it as something that no longer belongs in boxing. You can define it any way that suits your arguments, but then so can I. I am a fierce reformist. Always have been and I will never support anything that detracts from boxing reform and safety, especially lighter gloves the impact of which move closer to bare knuckles than away.

  41. "Old Yank" Schneider 08:39am, 01/31/2012

    Montero—You hit the nail on the head! Niche is a much better word than cult. But let’s also be real when we look at Pacquiao and Dallas Stadium. How many fights over the past two decades have drawn 40,000 people? There are 16 cities every football weekend that see stadiums fill to 40,000—every weekend! How many fans watch soccer globally ever weekend during season? How many fans pack a soccer stadium every weekend? And tens of millions of fans tune in on TV for football, soccer, basketball—every weekend! Pacquiao-like examples of filling large venues in boxing are few and far between—exceptions to the rule. And selling a paltry million PPV’s is the exception as well.

  42. Montero 08:06am, 01/31/2012

    Boxing is a niche sport, but honestly I prefer that.  I find that our fans are more passionate, knowledgeable and loyal than other mainstream sports like basketball.  In regards to ticket sales for the Super Six Final - you had a California fighter and a Brit fighting in NJ.  Plus Ward’s style is not TV friendly, he’s gonna struggle to become a crossover star (although he is great).  Pacquiao packs 40K in Dallas to fight an unknown (Clottey) - but he’s exciting.  Point is, if a fighter brings excitement, the fans will come.

  43. "Old Yank" Schneider 07:43am, 01/31/2012

    The thresher – Our opinions differ. Hockey kicks boxing’s azz in Canada; soccer in all of Latin America; football, baseball and basketball in the USA. For crap’s sake, kickboxing and sumo wrestling are bigger than boxing in Thailand and Japan respectively. I sat in Boardwalk Hall with a paltry 4,000 other ticket holders for the FINALS of the Super-Six Tournament—4,000 tickets sold – the venue was set up for half-hall seating to not make it look like you could shoot off a cannon and not hit a single soul. The claim that boxing is not boring and needs no changes is falling on a lot of deaf ears. The entertainment value from countless perspectives is appealing to a shrinking cult-like following across the globe compared to other major sports. Something is wrong. Rule changes that reduce the number of KOs (like 15 to 12 rounds and more padding in the gloves had done), might very well improve fighter safety (conjecture in the face of no statistically significant evidence), but it has caused the loss of fans – fans who might very well find contact sports appealing to the sick blood-sport mentality in all of us that causes us to crane our necks as we pass an accident.

  44. "Old Yank" Schneider 07:32am, 01/31/2012

    the thresher—I certainly agree that the sport has too many moving parts to single out a single culprit in what’s wrong with boxing. All of the things you mention are of great import. Perhaps it is just coincidence that the rule changes (15 to 12 rounds and 6-8 oz gloves replaced with 8-10 oz gloves), that happened shortly after the Leonard/Hagler bout, coincide with ticket sales shrinking, the end of a TV era and a sense that something has changed that has been of less benefit for the sport.

  45. the thresher 05:41am, 01/31/2012

    Boxing is not boring and needs little, if any, changes as a sport. But the business behind boxing has made it less than compelling—at least so in the United States. The fact there are so many sanctioning bodies, sanctioning fees, and so many state commissions overrun by hacks, and so many worthless belts, and so many unscrupulous promoters, etc., etc.,  is what has made boxing less than what it was back in the day, but it has nothing to do with the size of the ring or the number of rounds. At least not in my opinion.

  46. "Old Yank" Schneider 02:34pm, 01/30/2012

    The dreaded era of Newspaper Decisions is an example of an effort to return to the “glory days” of last man standing. If a bout did not end in a stoppage it was categorized as a no decision—no man officially won. To be sure, corrupt judges had a lot to do with the era of Newspaper Decisions, but so too did a desire to return to last man standing. Connecting the historical dots between last man standing, boxing and rule changes will be a fun exercise in an upcoming article. This is a rich topic that will be great fun mining.

  47. "Old Yank" Schneider 02:24pm, 01/30/2012

    “Last man standing” is the ultimate proof of domination of one man over another—it is the very root of hand-to-hand combat sports and, to be sure, of boxing in the modern era (beginning with Jack Broughton’s Fighting Rules in 1743 – a civilized set of rules governing how we can determine who can cause the submission of another man in hand-to-hand combat). I believe I will write an article on it and its importance to the sport and how most changes in the sport have struggled to implement those changes while retaining some proxy for last man standing. Clean, effective punching remains at the pinnacle of emphasis in scoring a bout. Why? Because clean, effective punching is the proxy for what it takes to eventually become the last man standing – the proxy for what is needed to impose one’s will on another by employing only wits and fists to the point of causing submission of an opponent or sufficiently convincing judges that you could eventually cause submission. Nearly all changes in the sport from the days of last man standing have attempted to pay homage to the last man standing roots of the sport. Legitimizing what amounts to legalized assault has been a societal battle since society gained civility. Much has been done to preserve the sport while satisfying or neutralizing opponents of the sport. What have been done are rule changes. The challenge used to be to make rule changes while still paying homage to the roots of the sport. Recent rule changes might have drifted from such a goal. Last man standing is gone, but the soul of the sport was birthed in just such a brutal place. “It ain’t a tickling contest!” (Ricky Hatton). More to come.

  48. the thresher 01:53pm, 01/30/2012

    Boxing is not boring and needs little, if any, changes as a sport. But the business behind boxing has made it less than compelling—at least so in the United States. The fact there are so many sanctioning bodies, sanctioning fees, and so many state commissions overrun by hacks, and so many worthless belts, and so many unscrupulous promoters, etc., etc.,  is what has made boxing less than what it was back in the day, but it has nothing to do with the size of the ring or the number of rounds. At least not in my opinion.

    As for last man standing, I have absolutley no idea of what that is supposed to mean, but what it conjures up in my mind, is something that clearly does not belong in modern boxing. Heck, why even bother with a referee?

    Whatever is done should be done for the safety of the fighters and in my view, that is what has happened.  But it has happened in much the same manner as it does in the air industry where it takes a plane crash to come up with new reforms and/or safety measures. This is what happened with Wilfred Sypion so that ambulances are now outside of every venue.

    I do not believe the 15-12 reduction had anything to do with TV because it came at a time when TV did not have that kind of influence. I think it may have been an overreaction to what happened to Kim as many were calling for the end of boxing and something had to be done—appearance-wise or otherwise. 

    However, dehydration sets in and is worse in the late rounds of a fight and dehydration makes the brain more susceptible to injury and that’s just plain common knowledge.

  49. "Old Yank" Schneider 12:47pm, 01/30/2012

    pugknows—I honestly feel your passion about fighter safety. It is noble. Your points are well made. In my view, last man standing is the tap-root of the modern era of boxing. Imagine downhill skiing where the finish line is removed and we hand over “lookin’ good” points to determine who the best skier is—reducing the soul of an entire sport to subjective analysis. If safety is the ultimate goal in boxing, then let’s introduce head gear in the pros. Or how about introducing body padding? We can eventually entirely reduce boxing to how it looks to the subjective eye and drench the tap root of the sport in defoliant. In my opinion we have moved too far away from paying homage to the soul of the sport—last man standing. It is my opinion and I can have it and also admire your opinion that safety is critical.

  50. "Old Yank" Schneider 10:46am, 01/30/2012


  51. pugknows 10:35am, 01/30/2012

    Not sure how any of what you say has anything to do with “last man standing” which, by definition, suggests less safety and more likelihood of injuries.

    Also, I for one do not believe a sport that can raise the amount of money boxing raises is a “cult sport.” Maybe it’s staring to become so in the U.S., but I suggest you visit Puerto Rico, Mexico, England, Japan, Thailand, The Philippines, Poland, the Ukraine, Russia, Germany, Canada, and Argentina before making such a comment. The world does not begin and end in the United States.

  52. "Old Yank" Schneider 09:30am, 01/30/2012

    Thanx Tex!

  53. TEX HASSLER 09:23am, 01/30/2012

    Excellent, thought provoking article. There some things we will never know and one of them is which round damaged Kim. It could have been the 1st round or the last round. Kim should have never been put in the ring with Mancini. I think more training is necessary for referees and they absolutely need to keep their eyes glued to the fighters. They are the fighters saftey net because most fighters will not quit no matter how bad they are hurt.

  54. "Old Yank" Schneider 07:57am, 01/30/2012

    Montero—Note that important championship bouts are not on a media where one can simply “change teh channel”. Most of these bouts are on subscription cable (HBO or Showtime) and PPV. Also note that viewership for boxing has shrunk since the distance has shortened. You make great points though.

  55. "Old Yank" Schneider 07:54am, 01/30/2012

    Montero—Great points! Especially the A.D.D. comments.

  56. Montero 07:42am, 01/30/2012

    Sorry - should’ve clarified the first part of my comment.  I was trying to say that the average American sports fan has A.D.D. and wants instant gratification.  Therefore less rounds is probably a good thing for the mainstream fan.  I think 12 rounds is OK because believe it or not, those extra 3 rounds make convince some mainstream fans to cahnge the channel.  Just my opinion though.

  57. Montero 07:38am, 01/30/2012

    12 round rule – actually I think having less rounds is a good thing in terms of boredom in the sport.  The reason why MMA is so popular to many Americans is b/c they seem to have A.D.D. and those fights are only 3-5 rounds.  Bam – in and out.  Friday Night Fights on ESPN is great b/c they can fit so many bouts into a broadcast (4 rounders, 6 rounders, etc).  So I actually like the 12 round rule.

    Glove size – this is one that I’m 50/50 on.  To me, the size of the gloves doesn’t make that much of a difference.  There are less knock outs today b/c the fighters are better defensively (and more cautious offensively), guys are bigger/stronger and all the supplements/nutrition assist in quicker recovery.  And bottom line, if it keeps the “ban boxing” folk happy then let’s keep the extra two ounces.

    Ring size – I do agree with you on this one, some of these rings are WAY too big.  We need to seriously shrink the size of the ring and give the “runners” less room to escape.  A true defensive wizard like Willie Pep can stand right there in front of their opponent and make them miss – no need to run in a 24 foot ring.

  58. "Old Yank" Schneider 04:41am, 01/30/2012

    pugknows—Here is the bottom line. From 1940 through 1970 boxing may have moved from one spectacular mini-era to another—capping it off with the Golden Age of Heavyweights and the Leonard/Hearns/Duran/Hagler era of n=mid-weight stardom. Ever since the rule changes we seem to have lost something. The mojo and magic seem to have slipped away. In the short time that the new rules have been in effect, boxing has moved from prime time TV with great mass appeal to almost a cult sport. I believe that the lack of excitement in boxing is partially tied to the rule changes. I’d like to see boxing get its mojo back and this is one suggestion.

  59. "Old Yank" Schneider 04:35am, 01/30/2012

    pugknows—Remember, back then fitting a bout into a 1 hour show was the goal—going over created a huge disruption in broadcast scheduling and time-slots that commercial advertisers paid for. And there were advertisers who would not allow their products to be advertised in any way associated with the violence of boxing. Johnson and Johnson is a good example of such a company. Do you really need proof that the boxing business has been influenced by money? If you are not already inclined to see commercial success as a motivator for how things get done in the boxing business, I won’t be of much help. You are correct, there is only speculation that money motivated the decision to shorten bouts from 15 to 12 rounds.

  60. "Old Yank" Schneider 04:29am, 01/30/2012

    sthomas—I’m not sure if any health stats exist on the sustained-beating vs the quick KO—but my unscientific observation suggests that guys who absorb a sustained beating over 12 rounds looked worse than the guy who suffered a quick KO inside 6.

  61. pugknows 09:47pm, 01/29/2012

    “that very likely were put in place for commercial TV reasons.” What proof do you have for this? I suspect I can make as good a case if not better on the safety aspects than you can on the commercial TV notion which is pure conjecture.

  62. sthomas 06:23pm, 01/29/2012

    Good stuff to chew on Old Yank.  I’m all for the 20 ft ring.  Would reducing the weight of gloves lesson permenant damage?  I imagine a scenario when 1 ko punch with smaller gloves vs 20 shots successfully absorbed by larger gloves would cause less long term damage. Any stats on this?

  63. "Old Yank" Schneider 11:03am, 01/29/2012

    pugknows—I understand. Point taken. The fundamental goal of the sweet science is to attempt to impose your will on another man by using only your wits and your fists. It is by every measure legalized assault—as Ricky Hatton would say, “It ain’t a tickling contest”. It would certainly be a step backward to take the padding off ring-ropes or return to using only three. It would certainly be a step backward to fail to require medical exams and to not have a ringside physician and ringside oxygen and a stand-by ambulance. This article does not advocate for any such backsliding. Please consider that this article does advocate for a reexamination of of several changes (and non-standardized practices) that very likely were put in place for commercial TV reasons. Again, there is no evidence that greater injury or death exists in the 13th through 15th rounds as fans were led to believe. In fact, by far the greatest number of ring deaths have occurred in the first 6 rounds than any others. And a football or soccer field is a known dimension, as it a tennis court, a volleyball court, a basketball court and on and on. Why is a boxing pro ring a size that is whatever a venue wants to make it? In Olympic boxing it is now standardized, why not in the pros? And since there is no evidence of greater harm in 15 rounds than 12, why were glove weights reduced by two ounces when the bouts were made shorter? Again one is hard-pressed to find evidence that there’s any safety data that supports the decision. I’m advocating for returning some of the better, exciting elements of the sport that once held fan’s attention where no safety data seems to suggest that it can’t be done.

  64. pugknows 10:33am, 01/29/2012

    Reducing the number of rounds and the concept of “last man standing” are two distinct notions. The first was one of many steps to help improve the safety for fighters. The second is totally nonsensical and has no place in modern boxing. The sport is not a blood sport. If you want MMA or Muay Thai, fine switch your fandom to those two sports, but both are significantly different from boxing.

    Maybe deaths and other near tragedies changed boxing only slightly. But title fights were shortened from 15 to 12 rounds, referees are now encouraged to intervene sooner, ring ropes are now padded and a fourth rope has been added and loosened to prevent damage from a fighter striking his head as in Davey Moore and Michael Watson. Complete medical check-ups are now required and a fighters previous record is considered thoroughly before a fight can be sanctioned. Ambulances are now mandatory as well. These are steps in the right direction. Last man standing is a large step in reverse.

    This article seems to want to make boxing less safe. At least that’s the way I read it.

  65. "Old Yank" Schneider 07:07am, 01/29/2012

    Mike—Great comment. By far it appears that the greatest danger for a ring fatality is the mismatch. A close second are fighters with preexisting medical conditions and those who are not conditioned properly.

  66. mikecasey 06:37am, 01/29/2012

    Yank, I wrote the following recently and I stand by it:
    “In the eighties, the classic championship limit of fifteen rounds was abandoned by those who apparently care for the health of boxers, following a couple of high profile ring fatalities in Johnny Owen and Deuk Koo Kim. Johnny was knocked out in the twelfth round by Lupe Pintor, while Kim was KO’d in the fourteenth by Ray Mancini.
    Has that measure helped to protect boxers? Of course it hasn’t. Preliminary boys are now fighting gruelling twelve rounders after only six or seven fights because there is always some meaningless title up for grabs.They simply aren’t given sufficient time to accustom themselves to six, eight and ten round fights and adapt to the longer distances. Many burn out long before they should. The great fighters find a way of plugging such holes in their education and flourishing on any given playing field, but these missing links can prove costly for lesser boxers who need more time to learn the ropes and progress.”

  67. "Old Yank" Schneider 06:17am, 01/29/2012

    Table 6 in the attached report lists pro deaths by round since 1890.

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