It’s been almost a week since the prime events for both boxing and horse racing went awry. Both sports were hoping for big comeback victories, but a late scratch and a controversial decision have left the classic sporting events reeling. With the controversy already dying down, both sport’s declining popularity will likely continue, as the new landscape of sports does not have time for either of them.
With the Belmont Stakes being significant in the Triple Crown for the first time since 2008, horse racing was hoping to build on their first three-race champion since 1978. Unfortunately, I’ll Have Another was scratched from the race and will likely never enter a competition again. The hype of the previous three weeks was suddenly lost among suspicion and a feeling of defeat for those hoping to see the pinnacle of the sport achieved one more time.
In boxing, unable to get the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight to revive the fighting sport, the boxing community settled for a pay-per-view bout between Paquiao and Timothy Bradley. Paquiao, the heavy favorite, appeared to dominate the fight, but lost the decision two judges to one. The loss sent a ripple through an outraged social media world as people made allegations of a fixed fight in the hopes that a November re-match would draw a bigger crowd. However, the talk died quickly and it seems apparent that fans can live without caring too much about boxing.
Both sports are ingrained in American culture. The triumphs of horse racing have been a part of movies and books since the beginning of the industry. The first moving picture was actually created to see if all four of a horse’s hooves left the ground at the same time when running. The Triple Crown has survived the downfall of the sport’s many gambling tracks and old world culture. The Kentucky Derby, with its hats and clothes, is like stepping back into a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.
For boxing, Muhammed Ali is the focus of the most boxing attention through his infamous fights, but other fighters: Sugar Ray Lenord, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey and Evander Holyfield are legends in America. The Thrilla in Manila and fights at Yankee stadium are among the most famous sporting events of all time. There is a classic feel to boxing matches that speaks of the American Dream, but the lack of Champions, the state of Muhammed Ali after boxing, and the new information about blows to the head are the primary reasons boxing has fallen out of favor.
It may be too late to save either of these sports. It appears that the Triple Crown is an impossible feat for horses who train on a schedule with longer breaks in between races, except for the Triple Crown. Without changing the schedule, it seems impossible to fix a sport that already has dwindling interest. Short of a Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight with a fair decision, boxing will continue to fade as a violent niche sport that lacks the excitement of the mixed martial arts that drives hardcore fans. If you want to see the best of both worlds, wait for the movies.