"As fans, the situation could be worse." So says everyone that has to deal with the business aspect of boxing. I believe that if you really do care and are a fan of boxing, you are able to read in-between the lines. During the days when boxing only had baseball and horse racing as its rivals, sports fans understood the world of boxing and even excused how the business was handled. As times change, so does the thought process of the ultimate arbitrator, the fan.
My introduction to this website dealt with the way responsibilities were handled within the world of boxing. The responsibilities I'm speaking of are the finger pointing that everyone does to avoid their part for the overall unfavorable way the public views boxing. If you have a misunderstanding of my initial contention please follow this link and listen (it may be a long diatribe, but I guarantee you will understand the rest of where I'm going a tad better).
As I left the 2300 Arena following my interview with Matt Ward, and since that time, I wondered just what role or responsibility towards the determent of the sport, if any, do the fans play? Are they part of the problem by not truly supporting the sport? Yet they are willing to give their negative opinions on social media platforms whenever a negative element regarding the sport is in the forefront of the sporting news world. Are fans too quick to write off the sport and kick it when it’s on the canvas (admittedly boxing knocks itself down plenty of times)? With this on my mind, I came to the following conclusion regarding both the fans and the sport.
Fans of boxing are already in the midst of this so called “mortuary-state” that the overall sports world and public claim boxing has sunk into. Nothing will be or can be done to repeat the days of years past when boxing results were on the front cover of newspapers, or for that matter, even covered in most major newspapers. As time passed, one thing in my daily life is a constant - Boxing is always present or is just around the corner in terms of the conversations I have with others. And, no, it's not just because I cover the sport or am considered an insider. Every time I open a social media platform, there are some deals being made between promoters and sports networks starving for more boxing content. Boxing is back in the daily discussion of the overall sports world, or at least, it is part of the weekly conversation.
I'll admit I'm lucky to cover the sport in a city steeped in tradition, where a credible boxing gym is a stones throw away. Here, there are at least two or three major boxing cards in the city per month (That's not including cards in the New York or South Jersey areas). So it does make boxing as a constant in my life a bit easier. However, places like Philadelphia and surrounding metro areas owe their flourishing boxing scenes to faithful fans. I'm honestly amazed at how many daily posts and conversations take place that are either sparked or driven by the thirst for information from boxing fans. Nothing is off limits from boxing fans, and the interaction between fans and boxing insiders (media, promotions, trainers, fighters, etc.) is something that has never been seen before in other professional sports.
This is something that is a major difference from the "golden age" of boxing. It's also something this scribe believes the sport needs more of. Obviously, because it is good for the sport, but mainly because it's the open flow of dialogue that will keep the sport as honest as it has ever been. If the fans have unprecedented access, their responsibility is to express their educated honesty about what they witness unfold in the business handling of the sport and the actual fights.
“Educated” being the ideal word in that last statement. We all are aware that along with the type of access I'm writing about, comes the opportunity for “trolls” or overall negative opinions to try and reign supreme in the boxing dialog. True educated fans can be the police that tell these no good "haters" what to do with their feedback that is not constructive to the overall dialog. Believe me fans, the boxing world takes notice and is grateful to those of you who already participate in this fashion.
Every time I enter an arena where professional bouts are about to take place, fans are there ready to stake there claim as the loudest supporters of the fighters they are there to support. It is within these instances that my loathing for days gone by is excommunicated from my present state of mind. These are the same fans who are part of the daily dialog of the sport. It is always refreshing to witness fighters in victory or defeat addressing the fans who spend their hard earned money in order to support their dreams of glory.
As I take my time and walk through any given “house” that holds a fight card, I realize to myself that certain fans have an unrelenting passion for the sport. For example, Jeff Rutizer is the epitome of a passion filled fan. Fighters, promoters, managers, and the media all know Jeff. He is a true fan that has traveled the area and built relationships with the aforementioned members of the boxing world. At times, Jeff can have more access than some media types, and rightfully so. He genuinely cares for the sport.
Fans, like Greg Bickel, also care about the sport. He had the pleasure of taking his young son to his first fight card at the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia. While they may have been there to support Greg’s pal, heavyweight Joey Dawejko in his successful return to Philadelphia, his son was able to meet and take pictures with current lightweight champion Mikey Garcia. Greg’s son was treated to a great first experience at the fights, and will likely be a fan for years to come. Greg is also known to take trips to fights in New York and Atlantic City. Like Jeff Rutizer, he is an educated fan whose opinion is valued.
This world of boxing access and knowledge is there for everyone to reach out and grab. If you are reading this, it's probably because you are already one of these fans, in which case for the entire world of boxing, I say thank you.
If not, take the dive! Follow fighters based off of their style, swagger, or whatever it may be online. Trust me, they will be happy to see you show up in times when a fans support is needed. Boxing is not dead, it will never die. What will keep it going is you, the fan. So get out there and support local shows. Don't be the fan on the sofa after a horrendous decision in a high profile fight, blasting on your social media that you hate boxing. Use it as the opportunity to separate yourself from the politics and let your educated voice be heard, by showing your support through the fighter, and ultimately for the sport.
As a writer, I will commit my time to call out the unjust of what you get in the sport, to help you, the fan, with policing up the malarkey we experience as fans. Maybe, just maybe, you should take time and invest in the sport. If you truly love boxing, stick with a fighter; you'll know which one you support (sometimes it happens naturally). Start there and make sure you let those fighters know that you do support them. Trust me they will; win, lose, or draw they will appreciate your support.
Support your local shows! If you don't know how to find local shows, go to Boxrec.com and search for your location. In this day and age, it isn’t that hard to find a local boxing show, especially if you live in California near the StubHub Center.
Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) is actually hosting an upcoming fan fest at the StubHub Center. Check it out! Fighters like Mikey Garcia, Victor Ortiz, and Robert Guerrero will be on hand to sign autographs starting at 1:00 PM this Saturday, in support of the PBC boxing double header featuring Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares. Tickets for that show start at just $30.
By all means if you live in the Philadelphia area, come by the press row and say hello to the media as well. If you think this article was full of “bologna”, please let me know, and I will be happy to hear your educated opinions as to why you believe so.
Once again, if my examples remind you of yourself and the way you care for the sport, thank you, and...
Till next time... FIGHTS, FIGHTS, AND MORE FIGHTS!!!
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