It’s not hard to understand boxing’s diminishing popularity in the United States—it’s not on network TV; people are becoming increasingly sensitive toward violent sports; there are a million champions and weight classes; the best don’t always fight the best.
But perhaps most important is the fact that the heavyweight division is a dumpster fire of completely dreadful contenders…after the Klitschko’s, that is. And to that last point about the Ukrainian brothers, compounding the disinterest in the US is the fact that the American talent pool of heavyweights has dematerialized; cratered.
If there was a Mike Tyson-esque character, rest assured that HBO or Showtime would put their money behind that man and try to build him up. Hell, if there was a Michael Grant-esque fighter out there right now, TV execs in boxing would look to make him seem like the next Joe Louis. There’s gold in ‘dem ‘der 220-plus-pound hills.
Heavyweights have almost always made for good ratings, ratings lead to advertising and advertising means $$$. Even when the division has been weak—Patterson/Liston era, Holmes era, Tyson era—the money and audience have been there. It used to be that you couldn’t have a major PPV without at least one big boy as part of the main or co-main event. Continue reading »