by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
It’s over, finally after weeks of pontification by many fans and experts, the question was seemingly answered, did Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s highly-anticipated match-up prove to be the savior of boxing in the eyes of the general public?
In a simple answer, most likely, no, it did not.
Of course it’s unfair to place the entire expectations of a sport on one event, but with all the hype surrounding the fight and clear battle lines that seemed to be drawn between those who hope boxing would fend off the coming storm of MMA, and those who embrace MMA’s rise as the premier fighting sport of the all-important young male demographic, one would be easily swayed into believing this fight could stem any tide.
In what was ultimately a match-up most boxing pundits feared – a technical bout in which Mayweather’s speed and accuracy for the most part trumped De La Hoya’s aggression and flurries – it was pretty much the general consensus that while hardcore boxing fans may have enjoyed the fight, not as many general fight fans might have been satisfied.
So it was with that obviousness that when the HBO broadcasting crew dissected the fight afterwards, there was the inevitable assertion that boxing is what it is, it is where it is at, and one fight will not change it’s future coarse, so why bring up the comparisons between boxing and MMA?
For the most part the entire HBO broadcast team avoided the comparison directly, however, during the post-fight breakdown HBO Commentator/Interviewer Larry Merchant stated, “Just one word about some of the build-up to the fight, [in] which a lot of people seemed discomforted that they were suddenly attracted to a big fight. So the storyline they invented was: ‘Is this the last big fight in boxing? Is this the end of boxing? Can this revive boxing?’ None of which means anything. Boxing is what it is, this is a very good fight, [and] we’ll see a lot more, whether we have this kind of crowd [in the arena], the folks out there [who purchased the PPV], those numbers – that is another story. This was good boxing, good fighting, and a hell of a show.”
And then HBO Commentator/Analyst Jim Lampley, a long-time opponent of MMA, replied, “You know, one of the specificities in that question is, ‘Will boxing have to cede its place on the stage to other fighting forms like Mixed Martial Arts?’ Mixed Martial Arts is entertaining, [but] the kind of skill level you saw in the ring tonight – there’s nothing in Mixed Martial Arts which is within light years of what Mayweather and De La Hoya are able to do with their hands.”
At this point, Lampley segued the conversation to the other broadcast crew in the building, which contained HBO Commentator/Analyst Max Kellerman, one of combat sports’ premier experts.
When the conversation was directed at Kellerman – after giving his thoughts on the fight – he retorted Lampley’s comments directly by stating, “I disagree with Jim. I think there are Mixed Martial Artists who are operating on a very similar skill level in what they do to these fighters [De La Hoya and Mayweather]. And that’s one of the reason[s] why that fight…that sport’s becoming very popular.”
The comments were made amidst the backdrop of a possible pairing between HBO and the UFC to broadcast future events. A union in which UFC President Dana White, in a recent tele-conference, said would most likely use HBO commentators, rather than the usual UFC duo of Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg.
Which ultimately lead to the question on whether or not White would like to see Lampley on said broadcasts, to which Dana emphatically responded, “Hell no!”
So it would seem that even those who feel that the comparisons between boxing and MMA are unfounded, there are equally those who feel the comparison is warranted and even favorable to MMA, regardless of what the establishment has long coalesced.
If anything, should Jim Lampley and Dana White end up in the same venue at the same time for an HBO or UFC event and happen to cross paths, it should be one hell of a show, even one that could eclipse the action inside the ring/octagon.