Sunday, January 9, 2011

FIGHT BLOG: A Night of Boxing and MMA

For the first time in a long time, I sat down and watched some boxing as a form of entertainment. For the first time in a long time, I saw a "championship" fight in professional boxing.

But what wasn't the first time in a long time was the fact that I was grossly embarrassed at what boxing has become.

Friday Night Fights on ESPN came to the Cox Pavilion on the UNLV campus this past Friday, and headlining the card was a match between Ruslan Provodnikov and Mauricio Herrera, which was 12 rounds for the IBF Super Lightweight (Junior Welterweight) North American championship. (Yes, that is an actual championship.)

I learned two things from watching that fight - as well as the undercard bout between Demetrius Andrade and Herrera's brother, Daniel. The first was that I have no idea how to judge a boxing match, and apparently, neither do most experts and/or judges.

In the main event, I scored the fight 115-113 in favor of Provodnikov, and Teddy Atlas' card scored it 116-112 Provodnikov. Upon looking closer, though, I gave completely different rounds to each fighter as opposed to Atlas.

The judging became even more confusing, as the three judges at ringside gave the fight to Herrera (115-113, 116-113, 116-112).

What this tells me is that the fight was excessively close, or no one was paying attention at all. But the tragedy in this is that this fight will almost definitely not have a rematch. Unlike mixed martial arts, where close decisions like Edgar-Maynard II eventually receive a one-off match, boxing only does it if huge amounts of money can be made.

I mean Rich Franklin's fight with Wanderlei Silva would have gotten a rematch had the fans not actively protested based on its potential to suck.

The other thing that I learned is that outside of the ├╝ber-elite fighters, boxing has generally lost its interesting fighters.

I tried to get into these fights. I honestly did. But the punches that change the outlook of the fight are so few-and-far-between that it felt like moments of complete boredom followed by brief glimpses of unrefined brutality.

By contrast, after the fights ended, I went to Showtime to watch the Strikeforce Challenger Series. I can honestly say the prospects in MMA will be much better than what I witnessed on FNF.

Don't get me wrong there were bad fights on the card. (Oh man, were there bad fights on that card) But what is key is that the multiple styles ultimately force the game to change more frequently.

With MMA prospects, there are flash knockouts, random submissions and semi-regular turning points in the match. With boxing prospects, the fighters are so focused on maintaining their records that the fights feel even more cautious than title fights, and yet the pure lack of good defense makes the fights feel even more cringe-worthy than the MMA fights.

Challengers and FNF are the epitome of where the two sports' futures are headed. With Challengers, you see young people in the crowds, exciting fights, deepening weight classes and definitive decisions (because of the three-round limit).

With FNF, you see fighters more focused on reputation than making people care, a decrease in skill, an old crowd and even older announcers (who apparently barely know how to text and don't get Tweeting).

Boxing promoters would be well advised to look at what shows like Challengers, Bellator and UFC Fight Nights do to garner interest, unless they want to continue to lose ground.

No comments: