You hear it all over the web. People arguing back and forth about which is better, more popular, etc. etc.
A lot of MMA fans claim how boxing is a dying sport and MMA will take over, or is taking over. And boxing fans talk about how MMA doesn't pay anywhere near the amount that boxers get paid and how boxers are the superior athletes.
I think its apples and oranges. They are both combat sports and have they're own fan base and place in sports. While I prefer boxing. I do watch MMA when its on TV and enjoy some of the fights.
Did you hear the Lennox Lewis interview I posted from yesterday? He talked about this, too.
I don't think MMA will ever permanently surpass boxing. Boxing has been around since the 1800s. Sure it isn't popular at the moment but that doesn't mean it isn't better.
During the early 90s, boxing's biggest star (Mike Tyson) was imprisoned and boxing lost some of its edge. Other than the Riddick Bowe/Evander Holyfield fights and George Foreman winning the title at 45, the heavyweight division was relatively boring until Tyson was released from prison. From '95-2003, the sport had another boost of popularity because of Tyson's return and other big stars on the scene like Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield, David Tua, Shannon Briggs, Tommy Morrison, Ray Mercer, etc. After Lewis and Tyson retired, the Klitschkos took over and the few heavyweights around who could beat them (Tua, Holyfield, etc) were too old to compete with them.
I remember the WWF was popular in the 80s, then fell off but became huge again during the Attitude Era in the late 90s with stars like Stone Cold and The Rock. Now wrestling has cooled down a bit as well. All sports go through these cycles where they replace each other temporarily in popularity. I'm almost 26 years old and I can tell you for a fact that boxing will be back.
Funny you should mention the WWF and the Attitude era, cuss Tyson was a key point in the start of that era and is being inducted this year into the WWE hall of fame for it.
But back to the debate. Yea, Boxing just needs an American Heavyweight star more than anything. Even with the way the boxing business is today, I think if there was an American Heavyweight that could be as exciting as Ali, Tyson, Frazier, etc. Then boxing will defiantly be popular again. All they need to do is Televise some good fights and create some excitement.
AJ summed it up nicely. I've been a boxing fan my whole life. I'm 56 years old. Boxing has had it ups and downs. I remember Michael Jordan had everyone watching basketball when boxing was in a slump. Sports do replace each other in cycles.