The London 2012 Olympics have come to a close, and if you've been paying attention to the boxing competition, you have witnessed great highlights such as the debut of women's boxing at the Olympics, and a full spectrum of low-lights as well.
Here are the top 6 takeaways, notes and points of consideration from boxing at the London Olympics.
The Historically Bad Showing from Team USA Boxing
For the first time in history, the men's Olympic boxing team from the United States failed to win any medals. Not even a single, sad little bronze, as they did in Beijing in 2008.
The United States Olympic Committee has already spoken out on the need for major change in the Team USA boxing program. Of course, it's no secret that an overhaul is needed in the amateur boxing program in the United States, one that goes all the way down to the sport's roots at the community level, and outreach to young athletes.
However, putting effective change into place may prove more difficult than anticipated, particularly on a single four-year Olympics cycle.
The Switch to a 10-Point Must System in 2016
While the judging system utilized in London was better than the one used in Beijing four years ago, it was akin to simply putting a small bandage on a gaping, festering wound. The whole limb needs to be amputated.
According to the head of the AIBA, there will likely be judges using a professional style 10-point must system at the Rio Olympics in 2016. They may also do away with headgear.
That's a great step to improve amateur and Olympic boxing, although one that comes with its own set of concerns...
Right at the top of that list is the involvement of the AIBA, amateur boxing's governing body, with professional boxing. The AIBA is forming the AIBA Professional Boxing (APB) league in an attempt to pay amateur fighters to compete at a professional level while allowing them to maintain amateur and Olympic eligibility.
Already constantly battling allegations falling in a spectrum of corruption, ineptitude and favoritism, the APB venture -- which comes after the World Series of Boxing, a team-based boxing league also centered on the concept of compensating amateurs for pro-style fights while maintaining amateur eligibility -- seems to only muddle matters up even further.
At London, there were referees expelled, cases of clear robberies and unjust scores, overturned decisions and more. The AIBA is in desperate need of major improvement, not to mention a public facelift.
Women's Boxing Shines
The women's boxing competition was absolutely fantastic at London 2012. Now there are plans to potentially double the number of women competing at the Rio Summer Games in 2016, through a combination of more weight divisions and more competitors per division.
There may be much to complain about with the AIBA, however, this is a great step, so long as it comes without trashing additional men's weight classes in the process.
The Globalization of Boxing
There were no singular dominant countries in the Olympic boxing competition, and in all likelihood, there won't ever be again.
On the one hand, you have all of the former Soviet republics fielding their own teams, and those have been some of the deepest and most successful squads at the Games. At London, Ukraine tied for the second most medals won, with five, and Kazakhstan won four. Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan all won medals as well. Oh yes, and Russia won the most medals, with six!
Then, you have burgeoning boxing programs in the most populous countries in the world, China and India, not to mention Brazil, another top-5 population country. Cuba is still a power, however, their top fighters regularly defect to compete professionally, while the gap has been closed between their program and some of those countries mentioned above.
Topping it all off is the fact that boxing isn't even an afterthought for top athletes in the United States, as displayed by the country's historically bad showing at London. This allows countries with smaller populations and much less of a history in the sport to field much more competitive and successful squads.
Where's the TV Love?
Ratings for Olympic boxing weren't good on the CNBC network -- but how was any boxing fan supposed to find the stuff to begin with? Personally, I watched via NBCOlympics.com instead, because I knew it would be there, while on television it was hardly shown live at all.
You cannot sit there with a straight face and try to tell me that more people in the United States are interested in equine competitions, canoeing, velodrome cycling or who knows what else than they are in boxing. People would watch boxing if given the chance. In fact, they shell out $50-$70 by the millions to watch the big fights. How many fans would buy the next big badminton match or diving competition for that much money? I wonder.
Consider this: The ExCel arena repeatedly tallied the highest recorded decibel levels of any Olympic venue, for any sport. The crowds were going crazy the entire time. Great Britain won more gold medals (three) than any other country in the field. It was an amazing performance, and a great showcase. Yet, during Sunday night's NBC coverage of the closing ceremonies and the performance of the British Olympic team, there was not a single mention of the British boxers.
Meanwhile, the AIBA got into a dust up with the NBC commentary team, essentially kicking them out of their ringside position and sending them to the broadcasting booth for the final weekend of the tournament. Now, whether there was a true issue with distractions for the officials, or the AIBA got testy at the criticism being hurled at them by the likes of Teddy Atlas, is up for debate.
The point is that boxing continues to be pushed aside by the networks. But please don't try to tell me it's because of fan interest, or even because of the controversy. It seems to me like figure skating, gymnastics and plenty of other "mainstream" Olympic sports generate some very substantial controversy all on their own.
So where's the TV love for boxing?
Sources: Yahoo! Sports, ESPN.com/Boxing, AIBA.org, NBC Olympics Coverage
More from this contributor:
Jake Emen runs the boxing news website ProBoxing-Fans.com. You can find more of his writing, including a complete guide to the London 2012 Olympic Boxing competition, as well as exclusive stories and special features on the Games at the site.
- Sports & Recreation
- London 2012 Olympics
- United States
- Olympic boxing