Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson has struck a body blow to the credibility of modern boxing by blaming the lack of personality in fighters for its apparent decline.
Tyson, while in Mumbai to promote the Kumite 1 mixed martial arts event, believes that fight fans want more from their fighters than just in-ring prowess, and it is this lack of characters that has contributed towards the shift of interest and revenue towards MMA and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
“It’s just different because they are not the big personalities,” Tyson told BoxingScene.com, discussing the sport’s recent decline.
“Most of the (current) fighters are very straightforward guys. They are real nice guys and they are good individuals.
“I was always in trouble. I was always here and there so that’s why I was always in the papers and that’s why it’s different.
“These are really straight gentlemen guys. I was really wild and a young kid getting into trouble.”
HBO recently hurt boxing further by ending a 45-year relationship with the sport and dropping live boxing events from its schedule.
There has been a large shift in momentum towards the UFC of late, with the latest generation of fight fans preferring the octagon-based sport.
The rise of household names, such as Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, is perhaps in contrast to the lack of recognisable characters in boxing, than Tyson suggests.
The 52-year-old self-proclaimed ‘baddest man on the planet’ was a big fan of last year’s crossover boxing match between McGregor and Floyd Mayweather, where Mayweather stopped the Irishman in the 10th round.
And the fact that McGregor, in his first professional boxing fight, was able to last 10 rounds with the undefeated Mayweather, who many believe to be the best ever, will only have strengthened the legitimacy of the up and coming sport, as boxing appears to flag.
The loss of the HBO deal does not spell the end for live televised boxing, however, with the growth of cable network Showtime.
There are also a range of other partnerships that will show live fights, such as ESPN with Top Rank, promoter Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom’s eight-year deal with DAZN, and Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, who provide fight shows to both Showtime and Fox.