July 17, 2001 – SecondOut readers are amongst the most knowledgeable and passionate followers of boxing in the world, as Contributing Editor Paul Upham was reminded when he took a look at the SecondsOut forum.
For many years boxing fans have had to put up with great hardships to follow the sport that they love. The sport has fallen from being a mainstream one to that of a boutique market over the last 20 years. Where as the sport was easily accessible on free to air television to the general sporting fan in the 1960s and 70s, if you are not hooked up to cable or satellite television in the year 2001, you are unlikely to see a punch being thrown.
It’s easy for fans of the NFL, NBA, PGA, and the codes of soccer and football to follow their sport either on television or in newspapers. Unfortunately boxing fans have to go looking for the results of HBO, Showtime or ESPN2’s latest card.
With all the obstacles in front of them, it is the dedication of many fans who have seen them go to great lengths to follow the sport of boxing and the internet has become their greatest tool in keeping up to date.
Also gaining in popularity is the many boxing forums appearing on web-sites which boxing fans are flocking to. Fans from all over the world can now communicate directly to each other on the boxing topics of their choice and for many it has become highly addictive.
One such forum here at SecondsOut has 1000s of new fans every day logging on to talk about the sport they love. David Leeder is the site Forum Administrator and is responsible for ensuring that all users adhere to the SecondsOut.com forum rules.
“I definitely think the internet has helped people. It’s often an alternative avenue for people. Information that they could not access before,” said Leeder.
“When any information comes up on a fight, it is on the internet immediately. There is no delay like in magazines or newspapers. The fans really appreciate that.”
The SecondsOut forum allows fans to register a user name and read and reply, if they wish, to any number of over 100 daily topics known as threads. Once fans have registered over 100 replies, they can then start threads on any topic of their choosing.
“The forum offers a place for people to exchange ideas. I think that is the number one attraction. Number two, people who are not that familiar to the game are able to learn about it. There is no better way to learn about something than to talk to people who are devout to it and who are experts,” said Leeder.
“I like the fact that we have fans from all over the world being able to chat. It is the interaction that drives the fans to contribute. I find it very addictive. I have a great enthusiasm for it.”
Leeder can spend anything between six to 16 hours a day reading and deleting threads.
“Deleting threads isn’t that exciting, but seeing the interaction between people is,” he said.
If the power brokers of the sport ever want to get in touch with the hardcore fans, there is no easier way than to spend some time at a boxing fan forum.
When it comes to the complaints of the fans, there is one issue that gets raised more often than most says Leeder.
“I believe want the fans want is more consistent scoring and fewer of the, ‘Oh my god, can you believe that!’ type decisions.”
A recent thread at the SecondsOut.com forum posed the question, “Are you obsessed with boxing?”
The following is a compilation of answers to the question by some of the fans writing under their user names.
“I watch any and all boxing broadcasts, I read and re-read boxing publications, I watch matches on tape over and over again and obviously, I spend time here discussing boxing at SecondsOut. Technically, I guess I am obsessed,” said Galaxy.
“I am a boxing fanatic. Have been since my dad took me to a gym when I was ten and that was over thirty-six years ago now. I watch every fight I can, live or on the dish. I have been reading ‘Ring Mag’ and saving them since ‘72. My wife keeps threatening to throw them out but when I tell her she will be right behind them, she changes her mind,” said Jimbo.
“We don't have much live pro boxing in my area but I still get out to amateur shows when available. Most of my time on the net, a couple of hours every evening and more on weekends, is spent researching boxing and chatting\posting on this site. I will never get tired of boxing. I get fed up with some of the crap going on with home-town decisions, certain people controlling who's who in this sport, but I always find more to keep me involved then drive me away,” he added.
TysonFan wrote, “My Fascination started with the first Ali-Frazier Fight or Clay-Frazier. I was hooked on Muhammad Ali then and still now to this day. I’d watch all the Ali fights and did not care for the others until after Ali retired. When they invented the VCR I recorded every fight I watched and scored every fight and still score every fight. I can remember in detail what scores I recorded and never let myself be swayed by the announcers. Obsessive no, fascinated by boxing 100% yes. This is the greatest web-site for boxing fans and it is number one by far. Nothing comes close, this is where it’s at, this is where a boxing fan can put that obsession into words, its great.”
Getting straight to the point was Ricky25 who said, “I'll be obsessed with boxing until I die. This is the greatest sport the world has ever known.”
“I live and breathe boxing. Constantly thinking about the next fight,” said Rich.
“Due to my love for boxing, my pet hate is the fact that I don’t get to see more than 10% of the fights I want to see. When they're fighting I want to be able to see Judah, Mayweather, Morales, Tito etc. fighting live on the TV but it's very rare living in London. So, although I love boxing that much, I also find it extremely frustrating at the same time,” he lamented.
Two of the long term regular SecondsOut.com forum users ‘Phonetap’ and ‘Everlast’ answered the following three questions.
1. What makes the fan forum so interesting to use?
“Forums are most attractive because they give individuals the ability to exchange ideas, obtain information and debate issues while retaining anonymity,” said Phonetap.
“It's a fun way to see what boxing fans think. I don't have many friends who follow boxing as closely as I do, so talking with them - and sometimes insulting their favourites is pointless. All they know is NBA,” said Everlast.
2. What are the things that you hate most about boxing?
“First and foremost, I hate the politics and obvious corruption going on behind the scenes with promoters and the sanctioning bodies. Boxers tend to get labelled with much of the blame when things go wrong with the sport and I believe this mistake often perpetuated by the media,” said Phonetap.
“There's no uniform way of scoring fights. All these sanctioning groups train their judges. That's why there's so much inconsistency. Is it quality or quantity? Does ring generalship matter? What constitutes a 10-8 round? Some rounds are scored as such even without a knockdown because it's one-sided. But some are 10-8 because solely of the knockdown, although the guy who was knocked down dominated the round except for that one punch. Fighters deserve to know exactly what they're being judged on and their order of importance. Fans will be less likely to say a fight was fixed. Why? Because everyone is on the same page and know the rules before they go in. Seems like the rules of scoring changes depending on who's the judge, what state they’re in, etc.” said Everlast.3. What needs to be done to improve the sport of boxing?
“I believe there needs to be one centralised organisation (at the Federal level), who's main duty would be to organise ratings, provide suitable pension plans and who would be the final sanctioning authority approving fights. Promoters can still promote fights but their power and influence in the ranking system would be eliminated,” said Phonetap.
“More high-profile fighters need to fight on free TV, like Tyson did on ABC when he was coming up. Short-term sacrifice (less money) for long-term gain (you reach more fans, especially casual ones, to build you up for huge paydays and endorsements because you're more mainstream),” said Everlast.
Spending time on boxing forums you soon see the devotion that these fans have for the sport. But are they fanatical?
“I wouldn’t say they are fanatical. They are as equally enthusiastic as fans in other sports. There is a fringe element who is fanatical. I’d say that there are people who are quite intelligent. There are a few exceptions every now and then, but by and large they are intelligent people who like discussion,” said Leeder.
It’s no wonder that some boxing fans are a little crazy, not being able to see their sport on free to air television in most instances and suffering from the effects of bad judging, proliferation of world sanctioning bodies, undeserving mandatories, tune-up fights, middle aged greats making comebacks and pay-per-view.
If you want a further example of the devotion of some fans, a recent thread referring to the fictional characters played by Carl Weathers and Mr.T in “Rocky III” was titled, “Apollo Creed vs. Clubber Lang – who would have won?”.
I’ve heard many people talk about mythical matchup’s before. Fighters from different eras compared if they had faced each other in the ring, such as Joe Louis vs. Muhammad Ali.
But fictional fighters? That’s a whole new level of boxing fan fanaticism.