Boxing is a worldwide sport. It always has been. One of the things that makes it special is that fighting is a universal experience for human beings. There are certainly cultures that place more value on it, but by and large, everyone gets it. Christopher Hitchens summed it perfectly when he lamented that our prefrontal lobes were too small and our adrenal glands were too big.
For the last century or so, the United States has been the center of the boxing world — first New York City and later Las Vegas. That’s where the big fights would happen, and most people were skeptical of any fighter who had not fought in America. This also lead American fight fans to get spoiled. Most of us have never had to significantly alter our schedule to watch a big fight, which boxing fans around the globe are completely used to.
We often lament the things plaguing the sport, most notably the dearth of quality matchmaking. But there are fighters, divisions, and countries that we ignore or about which we are simply ignorant. If you look around a bit, or just have an international presence on your Twitter timeline, you can find some great fights to watch and be genuinely impressed by great performances.
Last Friday in Osaka, Japan Shinsuke Yamanaka and Anselmo Moreno engaged in a fantastic, high-level brawl that saw both of them hit the deck and Yamanaka rally to get a brutal stoppage and retain his junior featherweight strap. I was at work while it was happening, but checking through my Twitter feed, it was obvious that I was missing a potential Fight of the Year candidate. Normally this would be cause for consternation, but by the time I got home, there were several options for viewing it on YouTube and I was able to settle down with a beer or seven and enjoy the fights.
The same thing happened Saturday afternoon. I was able to find a good stream to witness Oleksandr Usyk put forth a masterful performance winning a cruiserweight title against Krzysztof Glowacki in Poland. Going into the bout, like most, I was expecting a pretty even fight, but Usyk boxed Glowacki’s ass off in just his tenth pro fight.
So, is this the new normal? Yeah, maybe so. Maybe American fight fans will have to resort to what our peers in the rest of the world have been doing for years and find alternative means to get our fix. I certainly won’t be staying up until 4 or 5 a.m. to watch a fight in the near future, but I’m starting to get used to the fact that there are plenty of markets around the world that put on great fights between top fighters. And for the record, Japanese crowds and particularly Japanese broadcasters are some of the most fun in the sport. You’ll have no clue what they’re saying, but you’ll be entertained.
- I didn’t watch Canelo Alvarez beat up Liam Smith. $70 for a meh main event and hot garbage undercard isn’t happening any time soon.
- PBC put out a press release that Ishe Smith’s win over Frank Galarza (whoever the fuck that is) drew 1.3 million viewers, which immediately raised eyebrows. However, Boxing Scene’s David Greisman (@fightingwords2 on twitter) quickly pointed out that that was the total number of homes that watched at least 1 minute of the broadcast, not how many were watching on average or at peak. Ishe Smith headlining a card is bad enough, but claiming 1.3 million people watched it is fucking ridiculous.
- Speaking of PBC, BloodyElbow.com ran an article recently saying it lost $434 MILLION dollars. It’s a worthwhile read, and them running a photo of Andre Berto in front of the PBC logo is worth a thousand words when discussing why PBC has lost money.