By Iris Allen
According to espn.com, Sugar Ray Robinson 175-19-6-2, Muhammad Ali 56-5 and Henry Armstrong 151-21-9 were the top three greatest fighters of all time.
While reading through the list, I noticed that a lot of the people on the list are not recent. I have figured, for a long while now, that Mixed Martial Arts has really taken over and out-shined boxing, but I never thought one of the greats would think the same as I do.
Recently in an interview on complex.com about MMA’s uprising, Mike Tyson was asked if he thought MMA is a threat to boxing or of the two could coexist. Since Tyson was in boxing for so long, I expected him to come up with some insane answer as to why boxing is better.
To my surprise Tyson’s answer was, “Hey, listen man, a threat to boxing? It’s already defeated boxing. It’s all about MMA right now.” That response really made me wonder to what extent is MMA really exceeding our expectations.
The Amarillo area has a lot of diehard fans of both boxing and MMA, which led me to wonder about businesses that order the fights and how much of an increase in revenue they have when the pay-per-view begins. In a phone interview with Buffalo Wild Wings’ General Manager, Jarrett Bray, he said that both boxing and MMA tend to bring in a lot of people.
“Usually we have to close the doors due to capacity being met,” Bray said. “MMA tends to be a little more consistent.”
Upon asking about the atmosphere, he stated that boxing tended to be more rowdy and more people watching boxing tend to drink a little more. Bray said he does tend to push food sales at the end of the night to help calm people but there is definitely no over-serving at the restaurant.
“I tend to have more people working on the days with major events due to there being so many people,” Bray said.
He did advise me that sales in both drinks and food do increase during the matches. So, it seems that both help generate a lot of revenue but the MMA matches tend to be steadier, not by a huge amount but enough to see a difference.
My next stop was an obvious choice: I wanted to touch base with Amarillo’s own MMA and boxing athletes to find out their opinions on both professional and amateur matches.
My first stop was Extreme Martial Arts where I met with Colin Gladman, assistant instructor and master leveled black belt in kickboxing. We went over several things about the academy and also about professional MMA.
One of the things that we spoke about was the common misconception of MMA being so aggressive.
“Pulling someone up the ladder, not knocking someone down,” said Gladman. “Training is based off of what you can do to make yourself better and push and help teammates better themselves as well.”
We went over personal preferences on both boxing and MMA. Gladman said that even though he appreciates the technique of boxing it just tends to bore him.
“MMA just tends to be more excitable and unpredictable.”
He explained to me that the huge increase has slowed down due to injuries but it still seems to stay steady. The one thing that stuck out that made me wonder if it had a lot to do with the rise in popularity was the never-ending improvement.
“You never get that…ahhh my journey is finished.” Gladman explained.
There is always something to improve on and get better. I of course had to go to a boxing club here in town to speak with the Head Resident Trainer, Jody Paredes, and get his side about boxing and MMA.
When I walked in, it was like a blast to the past. All over the walls were photos and newspaper clippings showing the history of the sport locally. This made me realize that I was talking to the right person. Paredes in his 23rd year of training, making him an expert. Paredes emphasized, and I agree, that there is change in the sport.
“I think one good factor is money,” stated Paredes, “Old school guys they fought with a lot of heart some of the guys these days let money get in the way”.
Paredes said that comparing the two were like comparing “apples to oranges.” Another comparison was the way the fights are set up as far as how many big fights there are in MMA versus the 2 main title fights in boxing a year, which seemed to me can play a big factor in popularity.
I got a lot of great information on my journey in trying to find out whether or not boxing is declining. I realized that both seem to still be pretty steady and it just comes down to personal preference. I do have a lot of respect for both sports. The athletes are so athletic and have huge determination, which is something that society should learn from.
Even though boxing many not be as whole-heartedly fought it is still something that will be here for a very long time regardless of what anyone thinks. Now the only thing left to do is sit back and see what comes of George St Pierre’s rumored “retirement” and the ever so long waited fight of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.
For more information about Extreme Martial Arts, call (806)242-4362. For more information about Amarillo’s Lions Boxing Club, call (806)477-0239.