I'm not intending right now to write something that talks about how the boxing media missed the mark about fight predictions. This isn't about the media picking the wrong stars of the future and pushing them (sup Broner). No, not at all. Stuff like that doesn't matter. What "matters" is the general health and well being of the sport itself. Back when 2012 began, the boxing media at large often took sides (sometimes because of where checks were drawn) or stood back in mock horror as the sport of boxing seemed to be on the verge of splitting in two. Showtime had become the new home for Golden Boy and Al Haymon, while HBO was essentially turning into Top Rank Central. Each would house star fighters with fears that the two sides wouldn't meet. This schism was seen as being yet another nail in boxing's coffin, further proof the sport was deeply corrupt beyond repair, and hopelessly entrenched in self destructive behavior. In fact, as the year progressed, we even got a ground zero for that self destruction: September 15th, Las Vegas.
How the year actually progressed is the truly untold story - in case you've not paid attention, boxing has managed to somehow, in spite of that awful schism and competition between promoters, create new stars. Robert Guerrero had a star making performance against Berto. Martinez/Chavez was a fairly big success on PPV. Canelo Alvarez packed MGM just a couple miles away and also managed to make himself a bigger star that night. Adrian Broner, Andre Ward, Austin Trout:These are just some of the names that have come from 2012 and established themselves as relevant in the US. Boxing is back on network TV. We're getting more TV cards than ever before from the premium networks. Not only that, we're seeing more fights than before and in many cases better fights than we have in years.
It turns out that the night of boxing's self destruction was a sort of turning point for 2012 and the sport of Boxing. The first half was riddled with controversy, corruption, and bad fights. The second half was outstanding, punctuated by several epic battles. Showtime has elevated itself in the boxing public's eyes with several fantastic cards and is now considered by many the equal to HBO, something that's never really been the case prior. Even when Showtime spent megabucks to court Don King and Mike Tyson (separately) they never had this pull or attraction. Now they do. The spark of competition has led to enormously stacked cards on Showtime- the "official" show often televises 3 or 4 fights, with a preshow of dark matches showing 2-3 more. This has led HBO to shift how it does its business. Once upon a time, one fight cards with HBO were common. Not this year.
For all the negativity put on Al Haymon and Golden Boy, and some of it is deserved, you have to recognize that their empowerment at Showtime is likely one of the major reasons we've seen this increase in action and sheer number of bouts. This wasn't dumb luck. I'm sure they, like a lot of MMA fans, saw Strikeforce's purchase as being its death knell. Rather than assume than ignore that potential pot of money,wandered into Showtime's offices and offered them access to some of the best boxers in the world in return for a piece of that action. That investment by Showtime has managed great returns. And with it, we've seen a wide shift in the way boxing in the US is televised, much to our benefits as fans. Is anyone here as reliant on Youtube videos of the international feeds anymore to see hot fighters like Nathan Cleverly as they once were?
2012 is the year boxing was supposed to choke on its own mistakes, and instead we come into the new year stronger and more exciting than its been in years. It's a good time to be a fan.