The current state of boxing is on the ropes.
There’s no question about it. You need look no further than boxing’s current big ticket, affectionately dubbed “The Money Fight” between Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGregor.
Yet the “180 Million Dollar Dance” will be just that — a synchronized waltz for all the cameras and networks. How much boxing do we really expect to see from Mayweather, a finesse boxer who hasn’t produced a technical knockout since 1999, and McGregor, a mixed martial artist who knocks people out with 4-ounce gloves and hasn’t ever entered a boxing ring.
It’s time for boxing to find a pipeline to produce more authentic boxers. Otherwise, we’ll be subjected to Mayweather-Pacquiao until they’re both 6 feet under.
It’s time to bring boxing to local high schools and offer it to those interested. It’s time for Federal Way to beat others to the punch and help contribute to the next generation of boxers so we’re not subjected to martial artists being forced out of their lane.
The Mayweather-McGregor fight will generate millions. Don’t spend a dime.
You’ll get more for your money with Rock’em Sock’em Robots.
The only thing this fight is accomplishing, outside of showing off McGregor’s tremendous wardrobe and Mayweather’s ability to “make it rain” despite his ongoing saga with the Internal Revenue Service, is it is shedding light on a bigger problem: Athletes are no longer punch-drunk in love with the sport of boxing anymore.
But why not?
The sport has been a cherished summer Olympic sport since 1904, and the United States runs the table with 114 Olympic medals.
Yet the best we can do in Sin City, the boxing capital of the world, is a 40-year-old boxer who “retired” two years ago and a martial artist who’s never boxed in his life.
Where, oh where, has the killer instinct gone to preserve the sport?
The idea of looking toward the future of the sport has literally become a glutton for punishment.
There is no future in boxing because there is no pipeline.
Here’s the thing. Not too long ago, professional wrestling had the same problem. The wrestlers people routinely shelled out the cash to go see got old. And they just continued to age, performing more and more at a sluggish pace, deterring both crowds and money.
They had no pipeline. No “minor league system,” if you will.
That was until Paul “Triple H” Levesque of World Wrestling Entertainment pitched the idea for the NXT brand, the WWE’s minor league affiliate. Now, with NXT, the WWE and future of pro wrestling is as strong as it’s ever been.
The interest in professional wrestling is gaining traction with its younger audience, where boxing is dying. The difference is, the WWE has taken a proactive approach: “Oh, you want to be a pro wrestler when you grow up? Here’s the road map to how you get here.”
You won’t find that in boxing. So why not let education institutions take the lead on that?
How much more outlandish a thought is it than high school wrestling or football? A vast majority of WWE performers have a traditional wrestling and/or football background.
Boxing is as much of a contact sport as football and wrestling.
More importantly, there are stories everywhere of kids pleading for boxing to be offered at their high school, kids like Caitlin Williams and Tanjae Chairse of Michigan, who fought for a boxing club.
Or, if you prefer a success story, look no further than the Clear Creak High School [Colorado] boxing club, which received endorsements by both the Clear Creek School District and the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office.
Other states such as Arizona, Utah and New Mexico have formed and supported high school boxing programs in recent years.
Federal Way is more than capable of taking the lead on that. Right in its own back yard are resources such as NW Kali Academy and iLoveKickboxing.
Now is the time for boxing to grow.
There are kids in Federal Way who would love to explore the sport of boxing but have no support network to make that dream a reality.
Contact sports are thriving, yet boxing is fading. It’s a shame. At its peak, it is a beautiful, entertaining sport. There should be a place for kids to learn about it, explore it and embrace it.
I’d like to see the local high schools throw their hat in the ring to usher in the next generation of boxers.
But do it now, before it’s too late and the sport of boxing has to throw in the towel all together.
Jerod Young is the Mirror sports reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.