clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

As Mayweather vs. Canelo mega-fight looms, century old 'boxing is dying' talk remains

Looking back at a century of media reports that boxing is dying as the meme resurfaces ahead of Saturday night's mega fight between Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez

Ethan Miller

You've not been able to pay attention to media coverage of Saturday night's mega-fight between Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez without hearing about the "dying" sport of boxing. Floyd Mayweather is "boxing's last star," this is "boxing's last fight."

This is especially true, they say, as Manny Pacquiao has lost two consecutive fights, making it a virtual certainty that the already unlikely to occur Pacquaio/Mayweather superfight was dead. Despite Canelo's indisputable status as a superstar in the sport -- especially among the passionate Mexican fanbase -- he represents little to the media that only bothers with the sport twice a year other than "the Pacquiao fight alternative."

I reality, Canelo is a draw on his own. The nationwide press tour for "The One" saw either a 50/50 split or a slight tilt in Canelo's favor. Even in Mayweather's hometown of Grand Rapids, MI, a large and rowdy segment of Alvarez fans chanted "Canelo" throughout the presser.

While it's undeniable that boxing has seen better days, the idea that boxing is dying is nothing new. Fans are often quick to point out the not-so-distant past when Oscar De La Hoya's impending retirement had the same media questioning what would be next, who could take the ball and run with it into the future. Of course, Mayweather and Pacquiao were there to fill that role.

But the "boxing is dying" meme dates back to well before the last decade. In 1913, the Los Angeles Times ran an article titled "Professional Boxing Is Dying A Natural Death." In 1923 the same publication ran an article titled simply "Boxing Is Dying Out."

The St. Joseph News-Press ran an article in their January 10, 1934 edition detailing Kid Howard closing his legendary gym. Howard told the paper "The sport is dying. There are not good enough boxers or good attractions left. I can see no future for the sport. There are more clubs and more stadiums in the country with no outstanding boxers to fill them, or even come close."

In the mid-1940's it was boxing on the radio that was supposedly killing the sport. By 1951, articles such as one appearing in The Montreal Gazette's December 26 edition, were defending televised boxing, the latest innovation supposedly killing the sport.

The mid-50's brought more "dead sport" talk. The Toledo Blade on June 8, 1955 read "Let's face it. Boxing is dying everywhere, because commissions have surrendered to fighters and managers."

1961 brought a new wave of the same old stuff, boxing was dying, again because of TV. Former champ Jack Dempsey explained "TV, or rather too much TV, and the people who profit from it, has put the independent promoters out of business. There are few, if any, small clubs anywhere in the country. Those clubs were the source of talent. Without fresh talent, boxing is dying."

Even unheralded heavyweight title challenger Cassius Clay was possibly part of the inevitable death of boxing in 1963, along with fans not getting their money's worth.

Four years later, in the June 6, 1967 edition of the Leiston Morning Tribune, Archie Moore mentioned Ali as one of the saviors of boxing as people again claimed the sport was on life support, "They sounded the death knell on boxing in 1938, but it enjoyed a spectacular growth after that. Then they sounded the death knell again, and along came (Cassius) Clay. And now you've got these Italian boys."

And here we are, in 2013 running through the same cycles. There are no stars! There's too much boxing on PPV! There's too little boxing on PPV! Where are the clubs creating new young boxers?! It's the commissions! It's the managers! The fights are boring!

But the reality remains, Floyd isn't making $41.5 million and Alvarez $12.5 million, in a fight that already set a Las Vegas live gate record, and will likely set pay-per-view records, to compete in a sport that is "dead."

The sport of boxing is flawed, it has always been flawed. But as with every other period in its history, it's not going anywhere.

So sit back Saturday night and enjoy one of the biggest fights of this era.

Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez fight coverage

Showtime VP Espinoza: Mayweather-Canelo buzz unprecedented

Photos and quotes: Mayweather-Canelo final presser

Floyd: I beat Cotto and Hatton, not their brothers

Angel Garcia's rant during fighter arrivals

Picks: Fighters heavily favor Mayweather to win

Danny Garcia aims to take Lucas Matthysse's power away