UFC 227 has come and gone and while most people were talking about Demetrious Johnson losing his belt or TJ Dillashaw successfully defending his, Ray Flores was in Uniondale, NY for the Andre Berto v. Devon Alexander boxing match.
This fight wasn’t for a championship belt. This fight wasn’t even two fighters at the height of their careers. It wasn’t a pay-per-view event, it wasn’t even on Showtime or HBO Boxing. It was a free fight thanks to Premiere Boxing Champions on Fox. The result: Berto def. Alexander via split decision (115-112, 115-112, 114-113). What is so impressive about this match? The ratings pulled in just under 1 million views … against UFC 227. I don’t care who you are, thats an impressive number.
Now if someone were to ask me about either of these fighters, I wouldn’t be able to say much. Cue: Angelo Reyes who worked under Freddie Roach and was the boxing coach of Ana Julaton and, most recently, Frank Mir. The man is a historian with boxing. Put him and Ray Flores together on the SFLC Podcast, I just shut up and listen.
We discussed some of the more popular fights that have been booked and one significant one that has yet to be signed (Anthony Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder).
More importantly, we discussed the difference between the American popularity of MMA as opposed to the global recognition of professional boxing. By no means am I poo-pooing on MMA, but I’m here to tell you, it’s not even close. Let’s compare: UFC 226 during International Fight Week drew around 400,000 PPV buys. Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin generated 1.3 million PPV buys. That’s three times the amount.
Recently, Dana White predicted that UFC 229, which will feature Conor McGregor’s return against Khabib Numagomedov, would generate 2 Mil. PPV buys. I am curious to see which will draw more between that and Canelo-GGG Pt. 2.
But boxing is interesting. There are currently four recognized boxing federations to boast world champions (IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO). We are starting to see unification fights happen for clearcut best fighters. This process isn’t without it’s growing pains and confusion and does tend to turn some people off. Why so many belts? But hang on, couldn’t the same argument be made for UFC, Bellator, PFL, etc.? In the end, the MMA community had to wait for years to see Frank Mir vs. Fedor Emelianenko. I can’t really see that happening with Joshua vs. Wilder.
Regardless, it’s certainly a good problem to have if you are a fan of combat sports. I don’t know if combat sports will ever reach the popularity of football, basketball or baseball but with UFC inking a deal with ESPN and Bellator hooking up with Eddie Hearn and DAZN we are all in for a treat.