Modern boxing: more about social media than actual boxers



Pictured is Jake Paul who faced Tyron Woodley on Sunday, Aug. 29/

COLIN HORNING, Sports Editor

What happened to boxing? It seems like anymore, most boxing matches tend to be between Youtube stars and old boxing legends such as Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, without much else. The days of boxing being a hot-ticket item in the sports world are long gone, and much of what remains is dragging out the older, well-known names or trying to spice things up between Internet stars and other celebrities. Once a sport has hit this level, it’s sad to say that there might not be much life left in it.

Boxing used to be a much bigger deal. Boxing legends like Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Mike Tyson and others were not only sports stars, but worldwide celebrities. Nowadays, hardly anyone can name a big-name boxer that carries the same weight as the aforementioned boxers of the past. There was hype and excitement about boxing events, such as the Don King-planned events like “Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974 between Ali and Foreman or the “Thrilla in Manila” between Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975. Sporting outlets like ESPN and Sports Illustrated have called the Rumble in the Jungle “arguably the greatest sporting event of the 20th century” and the fight was viewed worldwide by an estimated one billion people.

Watching the heavyweight bout between boxing titans like Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Tyson and others was something that even the most casual of sports fans could appreciate. Regardless if one was interested in the sport, they still knew the names of the fighters and were able to watch the fight with real enjoyment. Nowadays, most boxing matches are between people like Jake Paul, who is most well-known for being an obnoxious Internet celebrity, and his brother Logan, who is no short of controversies himself (like his trip to Japan in 2017). One of the most-hyped boxing matches in recent memory was between Jake Paul and former NBA slam-dunk champion Nate Robinson, neither of whom had any real background in boxing. Paul won the fight and created a stir on social media along with a flurry of memes, but in the grand scheme of things this added no real value to the sport.

Ever since the superstars of boxing retired, there was no one to really pass the torch onto. The boxing legends of the 20th century rode off into retirement while the void was never really filled. Now, it is being filled by people who see the sport as an opportunity to further their social media fame and virality, which creates a lack of genuity and cheap entertainment for people willing to pony up for the pay-per-view package. If boxing executives see the social media celebrity route as the future of the sport, then the days of truly great boxer like Muhammad Ali are long gone.