December 01, 2010
Boxing went through a rough summer with a light schedule. November was suppose to revive things before the end of 2010. Manny Pacquaio brought in a huge crowd of 41,000 to Cowboy Stadium, but four other solid U.S. fight cards featuring high-level fighters did horribly at the gate. What's the problem?
Five of the top 10 fighters in Yahoo! Sports' boxing Top 10 were featured on four cards and they only combined to draw just over 19,000 fans. The next UFC pay-per-view card in Montreal is expected to draw over 21,000.
At 4,100, the Andre Ward-Sakio Bika fight in Oakland was least attended. In the scaled-down Convention Hall in Atlantic City, only 5,500 witnessed Sergio Martinez's spectacular knockout of Paul Williams.
And in Las Vegas, the "Fight Capital of the World," 4,818 watched Juan Manuel Lopez down Rafael Marquez. Two weeks later, 4,920 showed up to see Juan Manuel Marquez rumble with Michael Katsidis in Sin City.
I attended both Las Vegas boxing cards and the fans in attendance got their money's worth.
The Lopez-Marquez fight was outstanding. Lopez had to fight back from being rocked in the fourth round. Marquez, 35, fought like a warrior before packing it in because of an injured shoulder. That card also featured Glen Johnson's inspirational victory over Allan Green. The 41-year-old outworked Green and eventually put him on the deck.
The Marquez-Katsidis card was even better. Juan Manuel showed once again why he's a Hall of Famer. He was put on his rear end in the third round by a sweet Katsidis' counter left hook. JMM survived the round and then sat in the pocket, banging away with the younger Aussie. After landing 300-plus punches in 8 1/2 rounds, Marquez finally got the referee to stop the fight.
So why were the numbers so low in Vegas, Oakland and A.C.?
Has boxing done too much damage over the years to be repaired? Is it a matter of poor promotion? Does the sport only care about its television audience? In the case of Las Vegas, have the casinos spoiled promoters with overblown site fees?