I remind myself that long before the slide toward ‘Entertainment’, wrestling was a legitimate sport around the globe, and for fans of the sweet science concerned by the growing popularity of MMA and UFC perhaps that shared history provides comfort. Boxing can survive without a monopoly on fans of combat sports.
Certainly, UFC has learned from the short-term mentality boxing has adopted, realising that single world champions across limited weight classes keeps the sport simple and accessible. Equally, the top athletes compete against one another frequently.
Boxing’s twin pariah of sanctioning bodies and unwilling promoters ensures the sport, though buoyant in Eastern Europe and amongst the American Hispanic population, is increasingly marginalised amongst the large and traditional American and British audiences.
However, the optimistic view is to hope UFC will return attention to combat sports and reignite interest in boxing by association – particularly to the PlayStation generation to whom the sport is little more than a bygone curiosity.
And if boxing could learn to return to its roots and adopt the ideals that has helped UFC rocket in popularity it may yet prove to be the catalyst for a new dawn in the sports health, and without a charismatic heavyweight like Ali or Tyson the sport needs the fillip.