Boxing, better than MMA?

Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography, A Long Walk to Freedom: “I did not enjoy the violence of boxing as much as the science of it. I was intrigued by how one moved one’s body to protect oneself, how one used a strategy both to attack and retreat, how one paced oneself over a match. Boxing is egalitarian. In the ring, rank, age, colour and wealth are irrelevant.”


Boxing surpasses Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in every aspect. As well as being brutal, boxing is also aesthetically artistic. Its abounding history is rich with countless sporting icons, relentless rivalries and indelible fights. It’s an Olympic sport. This has been the catalyst for illustrious careers of legends like Oscar De La Hoya, Sugar Ray Leonard, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and future star Anthony Joshua.


Ireland is currently captivated by MMA thanks to the elusive Conor McGregor. But his display of excellence in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is not a valid reason for it excelling over boxing. Before McGregor’s victory against Dennis Siver, American adverts strongly promoted the bout by labelling McGregor the “Irish Muhammad Ali”, a phrase also attributed to him by UFC chairman Lorenzo Fertitta. To hype a UFC event they used a boxing legend. Boxing would never use a MMA fighter in a marketing attempt to sell a fight.


Unpredictability in sport galvanises fans and produces exhilarating moments. One of the most spectacular sporting upsets of all time occurred in February 1990. Mike Tyson, the undisputed undefeated heavyweight champion, fought 42-1 underdog Buster Douglas. The Mirage was the only casino prepared to offer odds for a Douglas win. Tyson was bullied throughout and eventually got knocked out in round ten. The Guardian newspaper described it as “the most unpredictable fight in history” and “the shock of the century.” Boxing is difficult to call which endears itself to a large audience.

Taking one look at boxing and UFC’s respective Halls of Fame can help you decide which sport is more renowned. The boxing Hall of Fame comprises a long list sprinkled with famous names. On top of the aforementioned, consider Barry McGuigan, Roberto Duran, Lennox Lewis, Joe Calzaghe and many more. Mark Coleman is in the UFC Hall of Fame with 16 wins and 10 losses as is Randy Couture with 16 victories and 9 defeats. The most prestigious MMA fighters do not fight or win enough to compare to the careers of boxers.


Critics boast that boxing has declined in the US, pointing out how it’s far from reminiscent of the days of the 20th century. The sport is supposedly languishing. But boxing history was dominated with American champions. Today it’s a world-wide spectacle. The Klitschko brothers sell out 50,000 capacity stadiums across Europe. Britain regularly sells out arena shows with raucous spectators. George Groves and Carl Froch fought in Wembley in front of 80,000 fans in May last year. UFC can’t compete with these events. Boxing is fortunate to have world champions from various countries. Examples include Manny Pacquiao, Philippines, Miguel Cotto, Puerto Ricco, Gennady Golovkin, Kazakhstan and Carl Frampton, Northern Ireland. Compare this to UFC where every world champion is from America except two Brazilians. Boxing is a global sport whereas the UFC depends solely on the US.

On January 30th 2015, Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz fought in the UFC. Before the contest Silva tested positively for an anabolic steroid along with other illegal substances. After the fight Diaz was found to have marijuana in his system. Boxing has had controversies in the past with corruption but the “Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act” in 2000 has cleaned up the sport. To see two former world champions testing positively for drugs in a highly anticipated UFC event is evidence that MMA has a long way to go to improve their sports image.


To convince you that boxing is the greater sport we should analyse arguably the most remarkable boxer of all time, Sugar Ray Robinson. In the 1800s the term “the sweet science of bruising” was devised by journalist Pierce Egan which would later apply perfectly to the original “Sugar Ray”.

Walker Smith (later Sugar Ray Robinson) was a flawed character, but that is irrelevant to this argument. Inside the ring he was an incredible boxer, an artist, a genius. He was a six-time world champion. In his professional career he recorded 175 wins and 109 knock outs. Sugar Ray fought during war times, meaning the physical shape of his opponents was phenomenal considering many were ex-military.


Herb Boyd wrote in his biography of Robinson: “There may have been fighters who were faster, stronger, smarter, who punched harder, were more resilient, and were perhaps even prettier. But none combined these attributes with such verve and flamboyance – and success – as Sugar Ray Robinson.”


If you want to make a serious case for MMA being a better sport, come back to me with a mixed martial arts fighter who can come close to Sugars career. It’s impossible.


And who says the best boxers don’t fight each other? The glory days of the 1980s where illustrious middleweights Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard fought one another nine times proves otherwise. Oh, and there is a small matter of May 2nd 2015, when Floyd Mayweather will pit himself against Manny Pacquiao. Maybe money is the reason this fight is going ahead but that’s not boxing’s problem, its society’s. Capitalism means everything is about money. But on May 2nd when that first bell rings and the eyes of the world are fixed on the canvas in Las Vegas, I guarantee you that MMA will be the last thing on peoples mind.Katie new1 resized

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