It’s hard to be a boxing fan these days.
We are decades past the Golden Age of boxing and overflowing with alphabet trinkets. Long gone are the days of boxing regularly being featured on network TV or in the local press. And sadly, the face of our sport is a part-time fighter/full-time promoter far past his prime.
But I digress.
If there is one thing harder than being a boxing fan,it’s being a fan of both boxing AND mixed martial arts.
As a fan of both ,I am constantly hearing the arguments from both sides. MMA fans say boxing is just two guys in over sized gloves pity-patting each other to death. Boxing fans say MMA is just two guys throwing sloppy punches and then dry humping. The only thing both fans agree on is that the opposite sport is boring to them.
I respectfully disagree with all of those views.
To MMA fans, I would say you have not been watching the right fights. Watch the first fight between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo or the first Mickey Ward and Arturo Gatti fight and tell me those guys were pity-patting each other .It’s even arguable that the 10th round of Corrales-Castillo 1 is the most dramatic turn around in sports history. Sure, there are boring fights. But you’d be lying if you tried to tell me there weren’t a fair share of boring MMA fights as well. How many fights just in the past year have featured one fighter getting a take down and doing nothing with it on the ground?
To boxing fans, I would say that you have to learn to appreciate the subtlety of what you call “dry humping”. The ground game in MMA is very complex. It is equal parts Olympic wrestling and martial arts. First ,taking down your opponent. Then, once you have him there, gaining a position that either sets your opponent up for a submission or puts him in a position for you to rain down punches on him. And all the while, making sure you yourself don’t get caught in either predicament. And as far as what most boxing fans see as “sloppy punches”,it’s not boxing. Boxers just have to worry about getting hit with fists from the waist up. In MMA you have to go from punching to defending take downs and leg kicks ,so you should forgive them if their punches look rather unorthodox.
And then there is the never ending debate of who would win in a fight: a boxer or a mixed martial artist? The answer, to me, is based upon where this mythical match up takes place. Only the proverbial puncher’s chance could upset the odds in either case, in my opinion.
In a boxing match, the boxer would be at home. Gone would be the many tools in a mixed martial artist’s arsenal. It would be someone who dabbled in one sport taking on an expert from that same sport. You would be crazy not to bet on the boxer.
Likewise, in a MMA match, a boxer would be seriously disadvantaged. He would , one assumes, be untrained in grappling or submissions and be little more than a sitting duck should the fight go to the ground. Odds would favor the mixed martial artist coming away with the victory.
Although boxing and MMA are different, they are both similar in many ways. Both sports, man vs. man in unarmed combat. The ever present threat of a severe physical beating, serious injury or even death , very real. This, I think , is what drew me to both sports. This isn’t the NBA ,NFL or MLB. There are no teammates to pick up the slack if you have an “off night.” And whether you step into a ring or a cage, an “off night” is likely to result in getting knocked out and/or pummeled.
But that is where the similarities between boxing and MMA end. They are two totally different sports. You can’t compare the two any easier than you can football and basketball. Sure, they both involve a ball and running but not much else.
So the next time you hear an MMA fan say boxing is dying or a boxing fan say MMA will soon die out, you can say these two things: First, boxing and MMA are going nowhere in the foreseeable future. And , secondly, can’t we all just get along?