Are Exhibitions Destroying Boxing?

Boxing has fought long and hard to reclaim its throne in sports.

MMA began to dominate pay-per-view shortly after the Klitschko brothers kept the heavyweight title in Europe.

Then there was a relative lull in boxing action, according to popular opinion, as the lower weight classes slowly began to claim their relevance in the sport. However, the Mayweather effect, among other high-level fighters, began to raise boxing’s profile in sports again.

Matchups like Manny Pacquiao vs. Everybody at 147 lbs, a robust welterweight division, and a rising lightweight division sans Lomachenko.

Boxing was made great again.

Then Floyd Mayweather, Jr. decided that Conor McGregor would be the perfect 50th opponent for him financially.

READ MORE: Is Conor McGregor Boxing’s Jumpoff?

He was right.

The bout became the second-highest pay-per-view ever next to Mayweather’s fight vs. Pacquiao. But for the fans, boxing is more than financial.

It’s always about the matchups. McGregor, although he is the first two-weight class champion in the UFC, is not a pro boxer.

While Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, and more waited in the wings hoping to hit the Mayweather lottery. Instead, a debutant boxer got the financial payday of a lifetime for being nothing more than a polarized fighter creating a racially polarized matchup.

Next, Mayweather fought Japanese Kickboxer, Tenshin Nasukawa in an exhibition about. He was paid a $9 million purse for a quick KO in a bout that was supposed to be minus any KO potential.

READ MORE: Mayweather Destroys Tenshin Nasukawa For NYE Payday

Now Mayweather has announced yet another exhibition against YouTube star, Logan Paul. The fighter is 0-1 against fellow YouTube KSI but has never faced a professional boxer before.

When people ask me, ‘What’s the state of boxing right now?’ That’s where it’s at, ” UFC President  Dana White said to MMA Junkie. “Didn’t that kid get beat up by the [expletive] video game kid from England, and now he’s going to fight Floyd Mayweather?”

It begs the question: is the exhibition bout hurting the boxing game?

It certainly is making active fighters feel some type of way. Snoop Dogg is even getting into the game and starting a fight club as the Cali legend rides the momentum of rave reviews he got for announcing the Jake Paul demolition of three-time NBA Slam Dunk champ Nate Robinson.

WBA interim super featherweight world champion, Chris Colbert expressed his true feelings on the matter during an episode of PRITTY Left Hook Live.

”I respect they hustle but I think it’s just outrageous what they doing (in a bad way)” said Colbert. ”They basically insulting us real fighters with that sh*t. Roy Jones disrespected us with that bullshit he did. He didn’t do shit, he ran and held the whole fight.

”I respect his hustle, what Floyd is doing because I would do it to if they offered the opportunity to make that type of money but at the end of the day it’s disrespectful for Floyd to be out here fighting foolery.”

Even current heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua put in his two cents recently on an episode of The Ak & Barack Show.

”I’m sitting here thinking, why am I fighting? I need to fight a YouTuber, ” said Joshua.

READ MORE: The British Are Coming: Anthony Joshua Set To Face Tyson Fury in 2021

The reality is that exhibition fights from relatively young or still viable fighters like Mayweather disrupt boxing’s need for quality matchups.

When the fantasy becomes a reality, who needs reality?

This is the question that must be answered as the boxing exhibition becomes normalized as the main event on a pay-per-view level.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.