What if I told you last year that the second half of 2012 would feature an inactive Floyd Mayweather, a suddenly stale Manny Pacquiao product, the continued doldrums of the American heavyweight scene, the falling stars of Amir Khan, James Kirkland, Andre Berto, Lamont Peterson, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Chad Dawson, and Bernard Hopkins-- and that the sport would be in better shape than ever?
Amazingly, the sport that was once declared dead by fans of mixed martial arts and much of the mainstream sports world, has suddenly found itself in a very healthy place and is beginning to enjoy a real resurgence.
Still plagued by problems of corruption and short-sighted promotional politics, boxing seems to have finally learned that good matchmaking makes up for all the sport's many ills.
Recently, we saw Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez, a main event featuring two non-English speaking fighters, sell close to 500,000 pay-per-views. Meanwhile, a competing card, featuring Saul "Canelo" Alvarez against Josesito Lopez, held in the same city of Las Vegas at the same time, set a viewership record on Showtime.
Super featherweight/lightweight, Adrien Broner has emerged as a legitimate star-in-the-making, drawing about 1.4 million live viewers for HBO's secondary boxing show, Boxing After Dark, and doing it against the relatively unknown Vicente Escobedo.
The Broner numbers fit into the trend of an overall strong HBO product, which has consistently drawn well over a million live viewers for each of their events. Showtime, as well, has produced larger than usual numbers.
The boxing buzz has been so strong that the networks, once reluctant to touch a toxic boxing product, have come around and are starting to seek boxing programming. NBC, which recently added boxing to their smaller NBC Sports Network programming, will soon add fights to their main network schedule. CBS has also showed signs of interest in dabbling in the sweet science.
The good news is that the upward trajectory in boxing seems to be the beginning of a positive pattern as better cards in better, more accessible venues are starting to get made.
Triple and quadruple-headers featuring quality fights are being made at venues such as Brooklyn's Barclays Center, The Staples Center in Los Angeles, and Oracle Arena in Oakland.
Even the upcoming Erislanday Lara-Vanes Martirosyan junior middleweight title eliminator, by no means a big-ticket draw, stands as a testament to the new vibe. With Lara represented by Golden Boy and Martirosyan working for Top Rank, this quality bout between young contenders probably would not have seen the light of day a year ago due to the well-documented feud between the two rival promoters.
Meanwhile, boxing's main combat sport rival and presumed killer, mixed martial arts, is suffering through canceled cards, diminishing live attendance figures, and disappointing TV ratings.
So, contrary to UFC talking points and, often, in spite of its own poor power structure, boxing is doing just fine. As a matter of fact, it's healthier than it has been in a very long time.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The BoxingTribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
Kevin Iole, Strong rating for Adrien Broner continues positive trend for HBO's 2012 boxing telecasts, Yahoo! Sports
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