Boxing is dying. What’s killing it?

Image-Isaac Barnett

A deep dive into the problems with modern-day boxing, and why its competitors are running away from it.

Boxing has been around since before Christ himself. It’s seen the rise and the fall of the Roman empire, The Black Death, and both world wars. Its legacy is deeply rooted in world culture and is one of the most recognisable sports in the world.

The modern game has changed more and more in recent years, and many fans believe that is not for the better. We are seeing more and more high-profile events in boxing, but they do not necessarily include high-profile boxers.

Many people believe these “gimmick fights” are destroying the legitimacy of the sport. What is killing boxing and can it be avoided? Let’s take a look, shall we?


2J521X8 LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 19: Tyson Fury hits pads and entertains the crowd and media during the Open Workout prior to Fury vs Whyte for the WBC Heavyweight Title on April 19, 2022 at Wembley Stadium in London, England, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Davies/PxImages) Credit: Px Images/Alamy Live News

Money is undoubtedly the biggest problem in boxing at the moment. Once a fighter becomes a champion, they are entitled to a large amount of money for stepping into the ring, and you can’t blame them for asking what in their view is their worth. That being saidit’s a double-edged sword in the overall bigger picture.

The sad reality is that boxing is now a business, and that is why Mixed Martial Artist and former UFC heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou, walked his way to a world heavyweight championship boxing contest with WBC champion Tyson Fury.

Previous to their contest, Ngannou had no professional boxing experience. This fight was his boxing debut. A debut, against arguably the best heavyweight boxer since Lenox Lewis. A crazy set of circumstances, but this is the world we now live in. It’s not about who deserves to fight for the title, or what the rankings dictateit’s how is the champion going to make the most amount of money. According to former opponent, Derek Chisora, via The Sun, Fury took home a reported $50million, and that does not include sponsorships or PPV points.

But, referring back to the double-edged sword statement, the champions may be earning huge amounts of money per fight, but this means that they have less incentive to fight more frequently. It’s exactly how Marvin Hagler said: “It’s tough to get out of bed to do roadwork at 5 am when you’ve been sleeping in silk pajamas.” Since 2022, fury has fought three times, averaging one fight a year at this point.

We’ve spoken to former Scottish amateur champion, Frank Gilfeather, and he gave us his take on the state of modern boxing:

“This isn’t boxing, and this is taken away and into the realms of some kind of sporting show business, and it’s, it’s not even entertaining. If it was entertaining, if the end product was good, maybe you could understand it. But the end product is rubbish in my view.

I mean, you look at the Terrance Crawford, Errol Spence fight. I got fed up reading on Twitter about what they were saying to each other and I’m thinking, yeah actually going to stop, fighting on the Internet and get into the ring it took about two years to get into it.

“So, of course, when they get into the ring, you’ve got to think, why are you only boxing once a year or boxing twice a year, or three times a year? The tax part will be enormous, so maybe that’s best, you know, once a year, and then will enter a new tax year next year, we can do it again.

“Now, that’s one of the big ways that professional boxing has changed.”

One other possible factor in boxing’s predicament is its ranking system. Unlike any other sport in the world, there can be four champions in one division simultaneously. This makes boxing unique in that sense, but on the other hand, it’s simply confusing. You wouldn’t have four teams ranked number one by FIFA in the world football rankings, or Tiger Woods, Rory Mcilroy, Scottie Scheffler, and Xander Schauffele ranking joint number one in golf. So why is boxing in that position?

We’re also in a world where a fighter can lose their boxing debut in the case of Ngannou’s fight against Fury, where he lost the fight, yes by a split decision, but he still lost, and he debuted in the top 10 of the WBC’s heavyweight rankings. You can make the argument that he put up a good fight against Fury, but the matter of the fact is that a ‘boxer’ with a record of 0-1, simply shouldn’t be given a rating that prominent.

Gilfeather continued:

“You know, you’ve seen especially in the heavyweight divisions if you go out and, mention Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua to the man in the street. Many of them would know those names.

“If you said, do you know the number three or number four, the number five contender, who the number nine is? Listen, they wouldn’t knowAnd, imagine that you’re rated below Francis Ngannou, and you’ve been trying to build a career as a professional heavyweight, and then this guy comes in, looks great, got great muscles can’t box, but he’s ranked above you.

That’s so dispiriting.”

The problem is having multiple boxing boards that can sanction fights. The WBA, WBO, IBF, and WBC all have separate rankings from each other, which is fragmenting the sport. It’s confusing that a fighter can be ranked higher by one body but another body may feel they don’t deserve that rank. It’s disrespectful to the fighters who put their entire lives into the sport

Amateur boxer, Alex Davey, gave us his opinion on the matter:

Photo-Alex Davey

The sport needs to adapt, its main competitor in the UFC is finding more and more success every year, and its recent merger deal with the WWE is worth a whopping $21.4billionit’s not looking good for boxing.