|Cherry picking excites no one|
So the other night a strange thing happened - I found myself watching a UFC match. Boxing had just had a pretty good night for itself, it was late, and I wasn't ready for bed (my wife was finishing up a movie), so I decided to check out McGregor-Diaz. And guess what? It was really entertaining. Sure, it was a bit sloppy for my sophisticated boxing taste (I'm so high end, don't ya know?) , but - hey - it was exiting as hell.
To my point - McGregor, the darling of the media - got beaten down by the far less heralded Diaz. It was nice to see since, from my largely objective viewpoint, McGregor is the kind of white, mouthy fighter the UFC has been building up lately for an adoring media. My suspicions were somewhat confirmed later in the weekend when I saw a clip of Diaz on camera saying that McGregor had pretty much gotten special treatment from the UFC.
The takeaway - MMA, which one would think from listening to people is the savior of combat sports, is a lot like boxing in some regards. Yet there's another takeaway here, one that differentiates MMA - or at least the UFC - from boxing: popular MMA fighters like McGregor, whether they receive favored treatment or not, challenge themselves. McGregor supposedly moved up in weight for this fight, what's more, he fights all the time. Could the same be said of Canelo Alvarez?
Keep in mind that these words are being written by a boxing writer, not an MMA writer. Not only that, they're being written by someone who doesn't even want to write about MMA unless it pertains to boxing. In short, they're coming from a boxing fan, not an MMA fan. Yet the truth is the truth, and
the truth is this:
Marketing trumps sportsmanship when it comes to boxing.
And that's not a good thing.
I just read this morning that Billy Joe Saunders is about to face an opponent no one's heard of. He could have faced Gennady Golovkin for tons of money. Billy Joe knows, however, where more steady income can be found. The same may go for Canelo, who, let's face it, seems to want, at the very least, to cash in some more before facing Golovkin in the ring.
This sort of thing hurts the sport, my friends. Sure, McGregor, despite his boasting, won't be earning what Canelo will, but there's something unseemly about easy - or, rather, easier - money. At least that's true when it comes to professional athletes.
Look, boxing is neither dead nor dying. It's not in a great place, though. The modern world, with it's current technology, makes cherry picking harder and harder to do. What's more, the technology is only going to improve, so market based sporting careers are only going to continue to take heat.
And that, frankly, is the good part about all this.