2023 has been an excellent year for Boxing. While I’ve long been a fan of the sport, I have a strong dislike for Boxing’s politics and the proliferation of title belts within each division. Currently, the UFC enjoys greater popularity among casual combat sports enthusiasts, but it’s evident that Boxing has experienced a noticeable resurgence in its fan base.
Contrary to its historical association with older adults, a 2022 Harris Poll revealed that Boxing has emerged as the fourth most popular sport in the country, with 33% of the 2,000 respondents endorsing its appeal. Leading the list were Football (62%), followed closely by Baseball and Basketball, both securing a 49% popularity rating, with Boxing coming in just behind them. Notably, Boxing claimed a higher spot in popularity than MMA (30%).
Gen-Z has played a pivotal role in revitalizing Boxing’s popularity among fans. A report by Front Office Sports highlights that Boxing has now surpassed Baseball to become the fourth most popular sport among Gen-Z individuals. Social media has also played a significant role in expanding the sport’s reach within this demographic. Boxing matches can be swift, lasting as short as 5 seconds, or go the distance, spanning all 12 rounds, equivalent to 36 minutes of in-ring action. For many fans, the allure of watching fights lies in the anticipation of knockouts, often sought in real-time.
Another significant factor contributing to the surge in popularity can be attributed to celebrities and social media influencers venturing into the world of professional Boxing. YouTube sensations turned boxers, Jake and Logan Paul, have successfully filled arenas and hosted lucrative PPV events. Their massive fan followings translate into increased PPV purchases, resulting in successful events and substantial revenue at the box office.
In my view, the primary reason for Boxing’s resurgence is straightforward. Fighters have reclaimed control over matchmaking, enabling the creation of high-profile bouts. In 2023, we’ve witnessed or are anticipating the following significant fights:
- March 25 – David Benavidez vs. Caleb Plant
- April 22 – Ryan Garcia vs. Gervonta “Tank” Davis
- May 21 – Devin Haney vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko (Undisputed Lightweight Championship)
- June 10 – Teofimo Lopez Jr. vs. Josh Taylor (WBO Light Welterweight Title)
- July 25 – Naoya Inoue vs. Stephen Fulton (WBO & WBC Jr. Featherweight Titles)
- July 29 – Terence Crawford vs. Errol Spence Jr. (Undisputed Welterweight Championship)
- September 30 – Canelo Alvarez vs. Jermell Charlo (Super Middleweight Undisputed
- November 16 – Shakur Stevenson vs. Edwinn De Los Santos (WBC Lightweight Title)
- December 9 – Devin Haney vs. Regis Prograis (WBC Jr. Welterweight Title)
Boxing’s popularity is definitely surging again. As a lifelong fan of the sport, I love that it’s growing and thriving. Welcome back, Boxing!