The title says it all.
The problem with boxing is it is a business, and in business, you can't have friends or even humanity to win. You have to do what is best for you and your shareholders.
So – why is this a problem?
Simple, the mere concept of what it is. Young people dream of becoming a millionaire, being adorned, seen on television, this, that, and a third. The reality is you can't be in boxing if you want to make money; boxing isn't a sport for money. If you make money in boxing – that is a major accomplishment; it truly is. Seeing how the system works is starting to void my love of boxing.
A young person has a dream, some modicum of success, and then goes pro. They're often, if not always, unprepared for that. Each decision is pivotal at this point, and evolving is what makes the next generation great. For example, Shakur Stevenson's evolution from year to year seemingly is what will make him the next boxing pound-for-pound number one guy.
The problem with boxing is the industry is built upon stock and bonds, but those who strive for greatness look at this as death or glory. If a telecom giant, like MCI, ceases to exist in the late, those impacted will have to find new work, but they can be based on their skill set. In boxing, when it is over – it is really over. The marketplace dictates a value, but the industry is built of essentially twenty people, and if one of them merits a fighter as less than – life becomes hard.
If a young person fails, it is on to the next investment, but that child or young adult now is not well suited for anything besides coaching or finding a new career. The money comes in, but does a young person really understand financial investments? As I am in boxing, the longer I stay, which hopefully is at most three or so years, it is the callousness of being able to remove any-and-all ties to a fighter once they don't bring a profit margin to a company.
It seems obvious, but boxing replaces college for a lot of these young people, and how do you not become a bitter adult growing up in this environment unless you have a perfect go of things. Even sadder, even if you win, things aren't always lovely.
Guys like Albert Bell and Luis Alberto Lopez also exist in a realm of “What The F” do we do with these guys. Despite winning and seemingly being in a position to challenge for a belt – they're not getting it for one reason or another. Boxing is a cold game because what we deem failed careers for talented fighters are often successful careers. We just set the bar too high, and even the all-time greats we find reasons to criticize. Boxing is a hatin' ass sport, and the local regions are the worst as it is often those who watched you climb are the first to leave a social media posting a comment mocking your descent.
Other sports might hate their legends or mock them, but they acknowledge their greatness. For example, LeBron James has a lot of detractors, but you won't hear someone say he isn't good at playing basketball, whereas you might hear someone say Canelo isn't good at boxing or is overrated. Even if you don't think Canelo is the greatest Mexican boxer ever, he is pretty clearly a top-ten talent in the sport and the biggest draw as well – yet someone will put that aside to mock his inability at times to fight guys who move a lot.
The reasoning…we have been taught and through truth, for the most part, that boxing is all smoke and mirrors. Often, fighters become three-division world champions and face a slew of vulnerable fighters to earn these accomplishments. Fighters with high political capital get rewarded and placed into positions to profit and be beloved with more and more exposure. Even if a fighter looks to be the goods, it is hard to know because the sporting aspect is so far removed.
Some of our folk heroes are based on political leverage more than generational talent, which is fine. That is the game, and they saw it and achieved it.
We have devalued the sporting aspect of boxing so much it is now – you lose, you suck. Now we have fighters; for the most part, so nervous about a loss, they never want to be tested until late in their career because they fear not getting another chance at a world time, which also means making decent money off the 20 years they have invested into the sport. It is reasonable to think that way, but how do we grow the sport to a young 16-year-old who is attracted to this. How do we get new fans from NBA, NFL, or even UFC, who might like a Shakur Stevenson, Gervonta Davis, or Devin Haney and keep them tuning in? That is the question, as it feels like we have a survivor's guilt of making it this far, and the system is built to simply make money, put forth the most feasible fights, and go on to the next one.
The most repulsive aspect is mostly investments made into the sanctioning bodies by sanctioning fights by promoters, the management, or whoever that allows major opportunities, not solely the performances that deem champions. The talent is only part of the equation; the other half is networking and political capital in a sport where the fighter has to function as a business without ever taking a single class in business. As stated above, tons of fighters are deserving of a world title shot, case-and-point, Ricardo Sandoval and Lamont Roach Jr., but will the sanctioning bodies step in and force it – who knows? It seems like the goal posts are always moving.
The business of boxing doesn't say it has lobbyists, but it does. Who you align with creates your path for which sanctioning body, more so than performances. Another example is Puerto Rican fighter Christian Tapia, who is getting ranked and fighting solid competition. Still, his chance will probably come far later than someone with a major promoter behind them. It is just the truth.
Yet, this is business. This is what you get paid to do if you work in business. The humanity is gone – you figure out a system and maximize profit margins, yet we've been indoctrinated to believe as fans; these are the dialogues and conversations about the business we need to have. As I keep saying, as fans, we've known to go against our best interests for loyalty to entities that don't know us at all.
Not unlike working a job and having to enforce evictions or make people pay money when they don't have it. The system is the system, and whether you like it or not, it will exist and continue to exist.
The part is – I am in the sport to see the journey of the young people, the plight, the strife, and all the above. Seeing positive outcomes for young people, probably working through my childhood trauma selfishly, and seeing the reality is more of a horror film than the teen drama I was hoping to jump into.
I say all that and follow it also by saying, how can you blame the promoters. The business will always do what it has to stay afloat. The boxing business is this way for a reason. At some point, a promoter probably had a very kind heart and lost a lot of money, or a fighter left town at the earliest convenience, setting up this system. This system isn't this way by a fluke. It is the most economically feasible system available to date. However, I still dislike it because of the pressure and hardships it places on young people and how unprepared it leaves them for life after the sport of boxing.
That said, maybe I am the problem. Perhaps I just shouldn't watch as much of the sport or be as invested in the sport on a global level. I only enjoy watching the young fighters; the main events do little for me. Maybe I am just bitter that I have yet to see the Rocky story in real-life unfold in front of me; who knows? I just know it is hard to be in boxing for an extended period of time and keep a child-like joy about the sport, as when you know if I wrote a story about Gervonta Davis versus Ryan Garcia, it would get ten-thousand more views, yet serve no purpose.
It just hurts, as in every other sport, if the Dallas Cowboys, L.A. Lakers, or New York Yankees don't make the playoffs, they can't compete. In boxing, the draw and appeal often outweigh success at points, making it essentially business and numbers. Business isn't all that fun to follow unless you have an investment, and I am nearly cashed out.