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WILLIAMS: MMA continues to surpass boxing as top combat sport

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In the early hours of July 2nd, 2017, in Brisbane, Australia, a 12-round main event ended in controversy, as Jeff Horn, an undefeated up and coming welterweight, was declared the victor over one of boxings legends, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao.

The decision was instantly met with outrage as many, including myself, believed Pacman had this fight in the bag, and that he would retain the WBO Welterweight title.

The judges apparently saw it another way, however, and in Horn’s hometown, the ref raised his arm and handed him a title that so many feel he didn’t deserve.

This is not the first time a controversial ending has happened in the boxing world. In fact, Pacquiao has experienced this same ending before when he lost his first match in seven years to Timothy Bradley in 2012 via a split decision that sparked outrage in the boxing world.

 Bob Arum, the fight promoter, was angered by this decision and called the credibility of boxing into question.

The fight was recalled in the minds of many fans as they watched a humble Pacquiao state that he “respected the judge’s decision, and would be enacting his rematch clause sometime within the year. This time around, the reaction was more of the same, and controversial endings like these two fights are the reason boxing is a sport that is dying right before our eyes.

“There is absolutely no way Pacquiao loses a fight in which he landed almost doubled the number of punches that Horn does,” seemingly tweeted in unison by just about everyone in the world who watched. 

Despite having momentum early, Horn was stunned in the ninth round by a barrage of punches from Pacman, which caused the ref to nearly stop the fight after the round if Horn was unable to show more competitiveness.

Now, I may be a huge fan of Pacquiao, but there is no bias in this observation. What everyone saw in this match is what we call “hometown cooking” in favor of an inexperienced Horn and at the expense of a legend.

Several boxing matches in the last few decades have suffered the same fate. One example being when Lennox Lewis pounded away on an aging Evander Holyfield for an entire fight, only for the refs to call it a draw.

“It wasn’t even close,” Emanuel Steward, the trainer of Lewis said. “This is what is killing boxing. 

It seems like that phrase is often uttered at the end of these unexpected rulings, but how many more times will it be said before boxing becomes a sport lost in its glory days.

Sure, there are megastars in the sport that still have the draw power to generate huge buy rates, but what about the rest? Boxing is not as loaded with stars as it once was. The ones who deliver great fights, are the ones lost in the shuffle, whose names will never be a household one. 

Not only is the credibility of boxing dying via “unanimous decision” among those who watch, but another combat sport has taken the reigns of entertainment, and turned it into a pop culture phenomenon that has surpassed boxing tremendously. That sport is MMA.

Companies like Strikeforce, Bellator and, of course UFC, have changed the way people view combat sports.

More people are turning away from the constant stalling and grabbing onto one another that boxing has become (I’m looking at you Floyd Mayweather, Jr.), and are tuning in to a blend of striking, amateur wrestling, jujitsu, taekwondo, etc. that MMA has to offer.

It’s even attracted the lights of potential stardom close to home, with the likes of former Eastside alum, Cody Durden, who is making a name for himself and is rising through the MMA ranks.

Durden will be facing off against top South Carolina flyweight in Jared Scoggins on Saturday July 22 at the Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth, GA. It’s bound to be more entertaining than most of what we see in the boxing world today, including a soon-coming “fight” between the aforementioned Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

In a cheap attempt to revive the reputation of boxing, two combat sports will collide in a sparring contest when boxing’s megastar, Mayweather, faces off against one of UFC’s biggest draws and toughest competitors in Connor McGregor.

Ultimately, the consensus is still there. Boxing is being tarnished by low quality matches and controversial endings that make you wonder if something shady behind the scenes is going on.

Only time will tell if boxing ever truly makes a full recovery, but one thing is for sure: If boxing wants to return to the dominant sport it once was, there must be more consistent judging that shouldn’t be questioned at the end of a fight. Point, blank, period. 

Tyler Williams is a sports intern for The Covington News. He can be reached for tips and story ideas at twilliams@covnews.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StevenTyler42.

 

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