How to Win Friends and Convince Them to Watch Boxing

By Timothy Seaver on September 23, 2015
How to Win Friends and Convince Them to Watch Boxing
Boxing doesn’t need a savior, it needs Don Draper. It needs people to sell the sport.

Don’t live in the past. Stop saying how boxing has fallen through the years. If we say it’s no good, how are others supposed to respect it?

Forget the talk that boxing needs a savior. Boxing doesn’t need a savior, it needs Don Draper. It needs people to sell the sport. The sport is great and always will be, but it’s suffering from poor public relations and a poor opinion of itself. And with no one like Mad Men’s boozing, womanizing Draper here to sell the product to the people, that job falls to the fans. And if you visit websites like this, that means you. There are a few things those of us who love the sport can do to make it a little more well-respected among the general sports population.

Don’t live in the past. Stop saying how boxing has fallen through the years. If we say it’s no good, how are others supposed to respect it? Ask yourself this: Would you start following a sport whose fans told you that all its modern competitors were garbage? There are great fighters today. Too often we think of the old greats as being invincible, recalling their highlight rails and forgetting their limitations.

When some guy with his own butt-print etched into a barstool dismissively says, “Yeah, but what good fighters are around today?” let him know there are dozens of guys worth checking out. But don’t challenge the barstool genius too much. If you asked him to actually name five fighters from the last century he’ll mention Tyson and Ali before he start stammering. No need to embarrass these guys. We’re trying to win friends here.

People will point out that there aren’t as many gyms around today, so clearly there can’t be as many fighters. This is a good chance to tell them that boxing has grown into an international sport. It is conducted at the professional level in far more countries throughout the world than was the case in its golden years. All the old Soviet Bloc nations now have elite fighters scattered throughout the weight classes. In the past these men’s finest days stopped in the amateurs.

Quit the gloom and doom. We can talk like boxing is going through a biblical plague. As seen in our reaction to the UFC. When it comes to MMA, boxing fans have got to stop acting like a bunch of jealous ex-boyfriends. People like the UFC, let’s get over it. Admit there are good athletes in MMA and move on. These are two different sports. Liking hockey does not preclude you from liking basketball.

And if an MMA fighter would beat a boxer in a street fight, big deal! Boxing has never been about that anyway. Plenty of great boxers would have lost alley fights to other men. Wrestlers and linebackers would have the advantage over the ring champions—and so what? That’s the whole point of the sport. One man may be tougher in some areas of life, but the champ rules the ring. The champ has mastered the art that we respect so much. And we need to convince others that it’s worthy of their respect too. And whining about the popularity of another sport won’t convince anyone of anything; except maybe that we’re a bunch of babies.

Try a letter to your local sports page; you know, the one that doesn’t know that boxing exists? Just tell them that there are good boxers out there and an occasional article might be worth a try.

Don’t drown people in information. You might know how much weight Bob Fitzsimmons gave up when he defeated Jim Corbett, but other sports fans think you sound like a history book. Sports are about emotion, keep the conversation passionate. Throw out a few names and sound excited about them. Tell your friends that Triple G is the best middleweight since Marvin Hagler. Say that Ruslan Provodnikov is never in a boring fight. Tell people they need to see these guys fight.

Remind people that boxing is on regular stations now. They don’t have to go to HBO, Showtime, or PPV to watch a match. It’s on NBC, CBS, Spike, and ESPN. Spread the word. They don’t need to spend a Saturday night spending cash on premium channels. They can catch a match the same way they “catch” a basketball game.

Get your friends beyond the idea that we need one fighter to lead the sport. It’s an active, multiple-fighter sport, led by numerous top fights and fighters, not just one individual.

Now let’s all grab our fifth glass of whisky for breakfast like a bunch of good little Don Drapers and go sell the sport we love!

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  1. KB 05:20am, 10/06/2015

    Mike Casey, no one said you did and I’m not refereeing to IBRO-type historians here. I’m refereeing to Old School enthusiasts who fail to explain what Old School means to them. The IBRO people DO define this quite well.

  2. John aka L.L. Cool John 05:43pm, 09/26/2015

    Dominic Breazeale pitches a shutout (100-90) against Fred Kassi on one fight judges’ card? There goes another nail in boxing’s coffin ... one more black eye. The “sport” just lost a few more fans!

  3. KB 12:01pm, 09/26/2015

    FrankinDallas, I’m with you bro, and I’m 78.

  4. John aka L.L. Cool John 08:38am, 09/26/2015

    Good point, raxman!
    In my opinion, boxing desperately needs a male version of Ronda Rousey.

  5. raxman 09:29pm, 09/25/2015

    the problem with the sport isn’t the talent, its the talents safety first mentality. you mention the best 160 since hagler as GGG. Golovkin is 33years old, is 33-0 and its only now in fight 34 that he is fighting a current titlist (he’s only fought 2 fmr titlist in ouma who had been titlist at 154 & Geale). its a joke that a fighter with GGG amateur pedigree has taken so long to advance. what a shame he didn’t follow the route taken by Riggo or Lomanchenko .
    if GGG comes into the pros and within 4 or 5 fights began calling out title holders maybe the world at large would in fact know who he was.
    but why would he do that. there is more money to be made getting a kick ass ko ratio and building a fan base around that- the majority of boxing fans are so desperate for exciting fights they just want a beast to cheer on and are willing to overlook the lack of quality in his opponents and that’s what is bad for boxing

  6. bikermike 05:47pm, 09/25/2015

    North America..just loves the hard blows and ...perhaps KO..RSC….TKO…

    North America is less appreciative of the subtleties of angles ..score points with lighter blows..footwork..ring smarts…avoid punishment..

    Now…USA..is so shallow on olympic/world amateur champions…or coaching to get them there..

    Good amateur program will prevail….even amateur boxing in USA/Canada top flights must see this

  7. bikermike 05:39pm, 09/25/2015

    Marvin Hagler had FIFTY ...count ‘em…FIFTY FIGHTS before he became UNDISPUTED MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD…..and got robbed at least once before he became Champion of the World.

    Everybody knew his name..and how he got there…and who he was fighting next..
    among them HEARNS….MUGABI…who he beat into submission…

    That is what folks remember..


    WHo is the MiddleWeight Champion today?? who is he facing next

    All that is missing…to the mass market..so..they watch porn..  or ‘b’ racing where guts and crashes happen all the time

  8. bikermike 05:27pm, 09/25/2015

    I kinda share a lot of what Mike Silver has posted….....and Mike Silver has been posting as long…or longer than I have.

    Still though I swore off Boxing…just like the first thirty two times I swore off drinking…...I like Boxing…and signed up for another season to be an amateur boxing referee/judge…and I will always return to my favorite sport…

    ..and gay porn was very repetitive…except for that one guy….

    AND I REFUSE TO WATCH TUFF MAN CONTESTS !!

  9. bikermike 05:10pm, 09/25/2015

    Ok…I had absolutely no interest in watching gay porn….except for that one guy who took in an entire 1956 Ford F150 transmission…WOW..!!

    I checked out the CANADIAN HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP Challenger…Donnivon ‘Razor’ Ruddock ...age 51…broke and had to lose seventy pounds to get his license…
    another fighter who pissed it all away

  10. bikermike 05:01pm, 09/25/2015

    ted…frankindallas…and some others…

    How much time do you have to spend on other than free tv…to acquire the knowledge about today;s ...SHINING LIGHTS..or top contenders…..let alone champions…

    See my point.  If the talent is there…who knows ??

    Tell you what….the competition isn’t there any more ......

  11. bikermike 04:51pm, 09/25/2015

    Just like the astrix in baseball…when Babe Ruth’s home run record was broken , for home runs in a single season…
    ..if the season was longer…if there were night games…should that not count ??
    ...and then there is the ‘juice’...Mark McGuire..and company..
    ONLY JUICE BABE WAS ON CAME FROM A BOOT LEGGER ...lol

    Or…when a fighter fought every month…,,or ninety days….instead of once every year…to keep his Title…shouldn’t that count for some adjustment

    Boxing ...as a sport for viewers , was pirated from the general public to promoters who go PPV…and keep it off free tv…and they make money….even if viewership and current fan base dwindles….tell me I’m lie’n

  12. bikermike 04:36pm, 09/25/2015

    It used to be the guys with crooked noses ..who spoiled Boxing…..Who could forget the Clay-Liston ..Ali-Liston debacle..??

    Now…it is promoters’ and managers who avoid the ‘ladder’...and instead choose their ‘charge’ ‘s opponents…and avoiding any bump in the road to the Title.

    Who was that white kid….college man…light footed…back in the fifties…
    ..was getting decisions left and right..for his rising career…..

    but….then…a guy had to face the tuff fkrs…sometime…and the nice white college boy met up with Kid Gavalan..who was still a force at that weight..

    Now….these guys get a dodge right up to the challange..for Title…and some believe that that is what it’s come to…with the money today…

    Even a challenger gets to cut up his pie of millions ...enough to feed the scavengers ..and pay all the bills….winner gets a nickle on a dollar..but gets to pay taxes on the whole thing

  13. bikermike 04:27pm, 09/25/2015

    I defy anyone…..EXCEPT THE BULL…...
    TO list the WBA WBC IBF..WBO…World Champions…

    Who they beat to get there…and who the top threat is to them in that weight division…

    Country of origin..cornermen..trainer…not necessary ...but helpful.

    I’ll also ask about Promotional contracts…especially for challengers awarded the matches they get

  14. bikermike 04:19pm, 09/25/2015

    I’m not saying that the fighters of ..1920-1980’s are better….
    That would require time machine crap…

    What I am saying…is Boxing talent was seen by the masses…INCLUDING CHAMPIONSHIP FIGHTS…

    There was , even then , turmoil…WBC..WBA…different champs…..and then IBF…now three champs..

    BUT…we saw them every week….sometimes more….on FREE TV….

    Did as good as football…basketball and baseball….or they wouldn’t have shown it…

    easier to get gay porn or tuff guy contests than good Boxing matches

  15. bikermike 03:29pm, 09/25/2015

    See…

    You didn’t have to hunt for it…..it was live on Wide Wold of Sports…every Saturday…and a few ‘specials’...also on free TV/cable

    We rented a shit pit of a house to watch Holmes vs Snipes…got the power…water and sewage and heat turned on for this night….cuz we had four of the city clerks there….

    Filled the place with people and beer..and diet pizza…

    knocked out one wall when Snipes knocked big cat to the canvass..

    The stripper was so pissed off that we were watching the fight..and those city clerks weren’t known to spend any money anyway

    Point was…folks could get top boxing ...Best against Best…on live television..

    Today…talent(you say)...is not exposed to public whatsoever..and when exposed….one amongst….a hundred number one contenders..??

  16. bikermike 03:18pm, 09/25/2015

    You know…kb…..I think you have a good point about how can ‘the old school guys..
    .the 1920-1980’s fighter knowledge base…

    compare the fighters they know….to the fighters who are here now….but nobody knows…..
    If there is a guy who is tougher than Hagler…more deadly than Tommy Hearns…more furious than Duran…more dangerous than George Foreman..more wicked than Muhammid Ale…more heart than Joe Frazier….we just don’t get to see the guy…..‘cept when he was just starting.

    We don’t get a lot of top fights on free TV/Cable

  17. bikermike 03:04pm, 09/25/2015

    ...a hundred bucks to watch paint dry….sorry, I mean pbf an d pacman…..
    Plethora of ‘world champions’...and therefore top ten contenders are also multiplied…’

    The best vs the best has resulted in all three..ok four World sanctioning bodies..WBC WBA IBF WBO…(did I leave any out ?)

    Stating ..a Champion must defend his title every ninety days…against the top available contender…

    So….why do we not see the best vs best….with so many championship; fights to take place..?

    See…the divas and such either
    -raise or lower their weight cupla dozen ounces…and challenge for another WORLD TITLE….out of the eight possible opponents…

    We do not see the best against the best….
    ..and that is why.., especially after that hudredollarassrip we paid to see what we were offered…pbf/pacman..those fans are watching porn..s’cuse me…I’d rather be watching gay porn than tuffguy contests

  18. John aka L.L. Cool John 02:26pm, 09/25/2015

    Teddy Atlas does a good job of explaining the problems (and solutions) in boxing with this youtube clip.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKcBueGC9Ec

  19. FrankinDallas 02:04pm, 09/25/2015

    Another series of nut job comments on YeOldeBoxing.com.

    Apparently boxing is the only sport on the planet where the modern
    athletes are worse that the current athletes. The ONLY ONE.
    Of course, this isn’t the case. 21st century boxers are in better condition
    than the old muggers, who were no better than very poor MMA/UFC
    jamokes. There are plenty of youtube videos to prove this is the case.
    Not, of course, with respect to Mr Greb, of whom there are no videos, so
    he is in Valhalla with Odin part of the time, and on Mt Olympus with Zeus the rest of the time.

    Sooner rather than later the Olde Boys will be beyond this reality
    and will leave the game to us young folks…and I’m 64!

  20. John aka L.L. Cool John 01:57pm, 09/25/2015

    I hate to appear cynical, but I tend to agree with Mike Silver. Ask the above average sports fan who the heavyweight champ is and they’ll give you a blank stare.
    Over the years, there have been too many bad decisions, corruption, too damn many weight divisions, and just way too much BS for me to attempt to convince a non-boxing fan of taking another look at boxing. I myself have lost interest in the “sport” over the past 10-years. Potential heavyweight champs have decided to take up football instead. I can’t say that I blame them.
    A well written and thought provoking piece. It makes for a good debate.

  21. Mike Casey 12:03pm, 09/25/2015

    I have written many articles on this subject and have never dodged the ‘why?’ question.

  22. Mike Casey 12:00pm, 09/25/2015

    They possessed superior all-round skills because they had better trainers and infinitely better and more substantial competition - generally speaking that is. But there are always exceptions to every rule in every era, such as Duran, Monzon, Hagler and hopefully Golovkin in this era. But the genuine greats are far more thinly spread now, because the multiple ‘world’ champions and ridiculous number of weight divisions has vastly diluted the overall quality.Would Tyson Fury seriously be rated in the Top 10 of the heavyweights if he were fighting even 20 years ago? Personally, I don’t label myself ‘old school’ or anything else, but I do believe it’s crashingly apparent that the golden days are behind us - hopefully not permanently.

  23. kb 11:21am, 09/25/2015

    I’m curious. You “old school” guys never seem to give specifics as to why you think the fighters between 1920-1980 were so much better than the more modern ones. Can you help me with this with? And again, I’m not being contentious but I put out my reasons and no one ever responds. They just ignore them and say old school was better. And I do have my own firm and documented definition of what Old School means

    Why, WHY, WHY?

    Thank you

  24. Mike Casey 11:06am, 09/25/2015

    Opening rounds of Charley Burley v Oakland Billy Smith. Oakland Billy can hardly hit Charley in the first. This is what Mike Silver is talking about. If I’ve messed up the link and you get ‘I Love Lucy’, disregard what I’ve just said: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gp9lkBqm6bQ

  25. Zoe 06:56am, 09/25/2015

    Great article. One thing missing is a mention of fans treatment of other fans, which is so bad it has developed it’s own acronym (YDKSAB). The other sport I watch regularly is (American) football, and when there’s someone in the group that doesn’t know the rules well, or is just starting to become a fan of the sport, that person is actively welcomed rather than ridiculed. I’ve never understood why boxing fans so aggressively put each other down, and it’s hard to overcome when you yourself are a new fan.

  26. NYIrish 04:44am, 09/25/2015

    I haven’t had a drink in yonks.

  27. AkT 06:44pm, 09/24/2015

    5th glass of whiskey? In the am? you sure it’s boxing you’re selling? Or a fast route to AA? Lol.

    You list some really great points here. These days there are a loads more easily accessible options for fans when it comes to combat sports. Boxing simply lost some of that market. Boxing has been around for yonks and will always be that big brother who gives the occasional nod a little young ‘Un coming up.

  28. Michael Coppola 06:43pm, 09/24/2015

    I totally agree with Mike Silver’s comments, You can’t sell a sport that keeps defecating on itself”. Governing bodies are a sham, in the whole of boxing their are only about 5 boxers worth watching, and for my money it’s only because they are old school fighters. (Floyd Mayweather Jr is not one of them). Why would I waste my time watching mediocrity which is what the sport of boxing has been relegated to.  I am not proud to say these things because I love the sport of boxing with a passion but it has been so neglected and for so long that it is to the point where I am not sure if it can ever regain its popularity in the mainstream public again. I am not proud to say that but I believe it to be true.

  29. bigfights 01:22pm, 09/24/2015

    Boxing fans like us will always be boxing fans. That’s not enough. Boxing needs more mainstream fans. Unfortunately, there are no boxers who captivate the mainstream enough to make them boxing fans. The most prominent fighter today, Floyd Mayweather, could have been a magnet to draw more mainstream fans to boxing. But, his personality and his demeanor has turned mainstream fans away, and some boxing fans as well.

  30. KB 11:21am, 09/24/2015

    And I would agree with Matt

  31. KB 11:21am, 09/24/2015

    Back in the day, fighters had to fight to earn. Thus, 80-100 fights was not uncommon. Today, promoters are willing to find them day jobs, especially if they are located in the UK, Las Vegas, NYC, or Munich/Hamburg. This way, they can focus on boxing without having to worry about earning. If I had a dollar for every boxer who works in a Vegas Casino/Hotel, I might have a bunch of money.

    The training is totally different as well. Much more technical and strength- oriented wit legal supplements as part of the deal.

    II think one issue might be that today’s trainers are not as savvy and that could loom large in the future, Still, I believe the blended Russian/Cuban school of amateur boxing has been very effective in bringing out some solid pros like Lomo, GGG, Kovalev, Rigo, and Lara. 

    Mike, did you not once say that Lennox was the last great Heavy? If so, since you said that, others have come along like the Klits, and now Joshua and Wilder and Povetkin appear to be pretty good as well. Even Fury has tremendous moves for a man his size.

  32. Matt McGrain 11:06am, 09/24/2015

    I think that Mayweather, Gonzalez, Rigondeaux, Lomachenko, Kovalev, Golovkin, Inoue and Estrada are all pretty special. I think they are as good, give or take, as most other very good fighters from their weight divisions at a similar point in their careers.  Overall, it will be very difficult to find fighters clearly better than Rigondeaux, Lomachenko and Inoue at the respective point in their careers in any era, ever.  So it’s clearly a very interesting time to be into the sport.  I’d add Wladimir, but it’s basically impossible to discuss him on the internet at this point!

    Interesting article.

  33. Mike Silver 10:50am, 09/24/2015

    KB, am I being too harsh or are you being too lenient? Perhaps we can meet somewhere in the middle, but I doubt it.  I’ve watched the sport since the late 1950s and saw great and good technical boxers so I guess you could say that experience gave me a perspective and frame of reference which translates today to utter disgust and (with rare exception) disinterest in whatever passes for boxing today. Boxing is more brain beating than ever before because defense is not taught and most of these guys (yes, from Europe too) just flail away at each other. Those who like boxing today like brawling. That is what they want and that is what they get. If that’s being a tad too harsh so be it. Someone’s got to say it. With respect.

  34. kb 10:43am, 09/24/2015

    What are your solutions, alternatives, ideas, suggestions? I’m not being snarky but comparing 1920 to 2015 cannot stand the test of relativity. Too many variables. IMO

  35. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 10:02am, 09/24/2015

    What is sporting about a “sport” where those at the top can literally pick and choose who they can beat up next…. think Hopkins being served up a perfect foil/fool in Abraham….a “sport” where the the number one seed gets to whip up on the number sixteen seed and then call it a title defense. A sport where competitors literally get killed before our eyes in the ring and are soon forgotten and the highest achievers and money makers are dirty dog performance enhanced cheaters.

  36. KB 07:00am, 09/24/2015

    Mike, much of what you say is true, but if you strip away the bling and glitter and focus on the fighters themselves, there is a lot to like. The surge of Eastern Euro fighters is new and refreshing. The Brits have solid boxers in the mid-weights, and the Japanese have their own surge of excellent and stylish boxers.The heavyweights are stronger than they have been in years And then there is Roman Gonzalez.

    I submit that if you compartmentalize, you will find that boxing is still essentially valid. It’s the new business model of making the most you can in the fastest way that has done the damage. Moreover, boxing journalists (OXYMORON IN MANY INSTANCES) have not helped by going along and being more interested in buffet diving than reporting the truth.

    All in my opinion of course, but I think you might be a tad harsh. With respect.

  37. Mike Silver 08:32pm, 09/23/2015

    You can’t sell a sport that keeps defecating upon itself. You want to watch this sport—fine, be my guest. Boxing does not respect its fans. As long as you’ve got 100 plus “champions” most of whom can barely put a decent combination together this so called sport is not worth my time or attention. There are maybe two or three good boxers worth watching today—the rest are less than mediocre and cannot hold a candle to the contenders of the 1920s to the 1980s.  Boxing today sucks. Only a fool keeps trying to help an individual who will not help himself. The same holds true for boxing.

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