Archie Moore fought 219 times. Sugar Ray Robinson fought 199 times, Henry Armstrong 181 times. I’m not saying today’s fighters should fight that often and for health reasons they shouldn’t. But why are today’s fighters so inactive?
Floyd Mayweather won his first title in October of ’98, he defended it two months later against the extremely dangerous Angel Manfredy and 3 more times in 1999. That was four title defenses in less than a year. Oscar De La Hoya won his first title in 1995, he fought four times that year. He became The Ring Pound For Pound #1 in 1997 he fought five times that year. “Iron” Mike Tyson won his firs title in November of 1986, he went on to defend his title a total of seven times in the next 18 months. Upon Tyson’s release from prison, he fought five times in 15 months from Aug 95- Nov 96. What do these guys have in common? They passed the torch to each other as the undisputed cash cow and pay per view king of the sport.
Keith Thurman- 1 fight In 18 months
Danny Garcia- 1 fight this year
Gary Russell Jr- 1 fight this year
Errol Spence- 1 Fight this year
Guillermno Rigondeaux- 2 fights in 2017, 1 fight in 2016, 1 fight in 2015
Canelo- 2 fights in 2017
GGG- 2 fights in in 2017
Bud Crawford- 2 fights in 2017
Mikey Garcia- 2 fights in 2017
Even young mega prospects like Naoya Inoue fought only twice and Jessie Magdaleno fought just once.
So what Gives? So who does this gross inactivity benefit? The promoters aren’t making money by keeping their biggest earners on the shelf. The networks don’t profit by not showing off the best item in the fridge. The fighters are missing out on a payday or two per year by staying inactive. If a fighter takes two top notch fights per year and one easier fight in front of their home crowd. It will allow them to stay active, build a fan base and collect another pay day for easy work. If a fighter has a prime, an absolute prime of 6-8 years that is relatively speaking, an extremely short period of time to set up of your life. Why would you not stay as active as possible? If you take two big time fights, two A fights and and an easier lower tier opponent to showcase yourself, to put on a show for your home crowd, sort of a home coming fight. where’s the downside?
Bud Crawford built a huge following in Nebraska, Robert Easter has done so in Toledo,Ohio. I live in Dallas, if Errol Spence came home and fought in the American Airlines Center he could draw a nice crowd. If he did this every year he get gather a following and eventually pack AT&T Stadium for his mega fights a la Canelo Alvarez. The same thing for the Charlo brothers in Houston and for Jarrett Hurd and Tank Davis in the Baltimore-DC metro area. Stay active and have a homecoming fight. It’s an easy formula.
I grew up in Brooklyn and followed Paulie Malignaggi’s career from his NYC Golden Gloves days onward. When he headlined a card at Madison Square Garden against Amir Khan. I was shocked at the amount of Brits who made the trip across the pond to see their countrymen fight. He built a following because he fought for his home crowd. There is something to be said for that. Arturo Gatti drew a huge following when he made Jersey his home in Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City. His fights became appointment weekend trips to AC for people from NY/NJ.
The current system of long layoffs is killing boxing. It’s out of sight out of mind. Then these fighters need a tune up fight against a tomato can so after a 12 month layoff, they fight someone nobody cares about then its six more months till they fight again. It leads not only to ring rust but also disinterest from the fans which translates to low ratings. Which all equals less money for promoters, networks, and the fighters.