In an interview this past weekend, light-heavyweight boxing champion Bernard Hopkins was quoted as saying the reason his story in boxing goes un-avoided in the media is because he is black. This Saturday Hopkins 55-6-2 (32 KO’s) takes on Sergey Kovalev 25-0-1(23 KO’s) in a light-heavyweight championship bout in Atlantic City, NJ.
“It’s because I’m black. What do you think if my name was Augustine, Herzenstein, Stern? Cappello? Marciano?…If I was any of those names of any other background, I’d be on every billboard and every milk carton and every place to be. If we’re talking ‘American Dream,’ here’s a guy who almost threw his life away and he took this great country’s great attributes and used it — do for self, work hard and be a law-abiding citizen. I’ve done that for 26 years.”
Hopkins, who has the record for the oldest fighter to win and defend world titles, will only be 2 months away from turning 50 years old this Saturday. Hopkins was released from prison in 1988 after serving over 4 years before he began his boxing career.
It’s not an unknown fact that boxing’s popularity has taken a hit in the recent decade. Despite new marketing approaches, campaigns and TV commercials, boxing has struggled to make money in pay-per-view events that do not include Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s name.
What happened to the excitement of the 20th century boxing fight? The trash talk of Sugar Ray Leonard, the pre-fight antic of Muhammad Ali, the posters around every major city advertising the title fight? All of these things are missing from boxing today.
So is race really the reason, Hopkins story and his fight v. Kovalev goes unnoticed in the media or is it just attributed to the lack of popularity towards boxing? Not in my opinion. This isn’t the first time Hopkins has made media headlines for something controversial he has said to the media.
I’m not here to personally attack Mr. Hopkins. I just don’t put much into his claims of race being the issue his story in boxing isn’t covered, when the largest superstar in his sport is of the same ethnicity. However what Hopkins does point out is that boxing lacks the media attention it once had. The even harsher truth is that boxing has a serious problem coming ahead for them when Floyd Mayweather retires fall of next year.
Mayweather is the perfect example of why race is not the issue at hand. Mayweather, an african-american, is the most popular fighter in the United States. In a sport that lacks the demanding respect and popularity it once did during the 20th century, Mayweather is even known by people around the world by people who have never even seen him fight.
While boxing has always had its media superstars like Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and currently Mayweather as mentioned, there is yet to be a boxer anywhere near comparable to Mayweather’s media-attention level.
The UFC is also to blame for the unpopularity of boxing today. The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and other Mixed Martial Arts leagues like StrikeForce and Bellator now dominate the youth demographic. The sport, which includes boxing, also adds the excitement of Judo, Wrestling, Jit-Jitsu and other forms of hand combat which is a main factor in its popularity rise over boxing. The sport is faster paced and includes increased brutality compared to boxing which can also contributes to the excitement that has drawn fans in.
The United States has a great history in the sport of boxing. However, in our modern-day the United States may not even be the best country in boxing anymore. For the sake of the sport, and the future of it here in the United States, the boxing community as a whole will need to evaluate and make changes for the betterment of the sport.