Ok, for some reason I've been thinking about boxing a lot lately. Now that I've got a little time to collect my thoughts, I'd like you to humor my impulse and outline a little plan to save a sport.
Ditch the seperatism.
I think fans have had about enough of sifting through the rankings of the IBF, IBO, WBC, WBA, and WBO. These are only the five major organizations. I counted nine other fringe organizations that are littered with promoters trying to make a buck. Eighty-six all of them. Make one big league. I'll call it the NABN (National Association of Broken Noses). There, now we have easy ranking systems, and a championship belt that actually means something. Now, to be a champ, you really have to beat everybody. It would be like facing a starting rotation in a playoff series in the MLB before the expansion diluted the talent pool. Sounds scary, huh? This leads me to my next point.
Get a Commish
The only way to accomplish success for the NABN is to pick a strong willed leader to clean some things up. First thing to be wiped up is the role of the modern promoter. Now, I realize that the boxers will need representation, much like every other athlete on the planet has an agent to do the things the athelete doesn't know how to do, but the roles that the modern day promoter has taken on have gotten out of control. The NABN has to be the body that picks venues, picks fights, takes the gate and otherwise runs the whole show.
No more Don King lining up twinkies for Mike Tyson and the stealing most of Tyson's money. Tyson wasn't the best boxer ever, but he had the best presence of anyone aside from Ali, but he was a time bomb and King knew it. Had the NABN been around when Tyson got huge, boxing would be one of the biggest sports in America. Iron Mike was the only reason that anyone I knew watched boxing when I was a teenager, which would have been HUGE for the NABN since that's the age when life long allegiances are formed.
Paydays Have GOT to GO!
Now that I've singlehandedly turned promoters into agents with weird hair-dos, they've got to have someone to negotiate with. Boxers will now be under contract with the NABN. I'll allow for a good bit of leeway when it comes to salaries and bonuses and all that. I don't forsee a boxer getting a somewhat fixed yearly sum, like, say an NFL player would, but I do see a future that entails a boxer's fight check coming from the NABN instead of from taking the gate and PPV money. Since the NABN is "promoting" the fight, that's where the checks will come from. Gone are the days of a promoter pitting two of his fighters against each other just to collect a huge percentage check, and...
The Champ is... Where?
... gone are the days of a promoter lining up bums to get his guy to the championship! This is possibly the most insulting of all sport undertakings. Hell, it's even worse than when the Colts have to play the Texans on their way to a Superbowl. You get a guy who's 22-0 with 18 KOs, and all of the sudden he's getting a huge payday in a fight against the champ. Fighters and promoters cash in from the heavily hyped title fight. The PPV money tops $50 million with a giant gate. Little do the fans know that the contender beat three guys from my high school football team, a 45 year old semi pro trying to eke out a living, and the waiter from Applebee's in Arkansas. NOPE! The NABN makes the fights, and mandates that every fighter fights at least every 3 calendar months. There can be exceptions for injury, and probably some other legal mumbo jumbo stuff, but that's the timeline. You fight, you fight a lot, and you fight quality opponents.
Now then, with a supreme overlord we can blame scandals on, an understandable salary schedule, and fighters that fight enough that the common fan can actually get to learn their names, we've got ourselves an honest to goodness sport on our hands. I know that none of this will actually happen, but it's a shame. I'd love to root for boxing, I just know better.