A recurring debate during the buildup to Floyd Mayweather's showdown with Saul Alvarez was what the fight indicated about the sport. To some, the record gate ($20 million), ESPN saturation coverage and projections of two million pay-per-view buys were evidence of boxing's health. To others it was an aberration, a blip for a sport barely on the public's radar.
The truth lies somewhere in between. No, boxing isn't dying. Premium networks HBO and Showtime draw solid ratings, and the emergence of NBC Sports Network and Fox Sports 1 have increased the sport's exposure. And boxing is peppered with young, dynamic stars like Gennady Golovkin, Danny Garcia and Adrien Broner who possess the talent and personalities to lead it.
But it's far from healthy. Promoters bent on creating monopolies create roadblocks to compelling matchups. Fighters wary of blemishing their records seek soft opponents. Judging can be shaky. After C.J. Ross scored Mayweather-Alvarez a 114--114 draw, promoter Richard Schaefer said, "It was a disgrace."
Mayweather will return next May, and the attention with him. Until then, boxing will continue to be its own worst enemy.
ROBERT BECK/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (FIGHT)