US vs UK Pro Boxing Landscape Continues To Evolve

US vs UK Pro Boxing

The American and British boxing markets have always traditionally been rivals over the years, and competitors for some of the world's biggest fights.

But it would appear that the modern day pugilistic tide between the two has turned rather rapidly.

Gone are the days where the majority of the big fights would happen in the USA, with the sport of professional boxing more of a global franchise than perhaps ever before.

But it's the British boxing market that continues to go from strength to strength in recent memory, and indeed at present.

Not long ago there was thirteen world boxing champions from the UK (prior to Carl Frampton vs Scott Quigg) and you'd have to say that the vast majority of the big drawing fights are more often than not, found on the British isles these days.

But it hasn't happened over night. It almost seems like it's been a gradual process over the last few years, perhaps really capitulating with the mega event that was Carl Froch vs George Groves at Wembley stadium back in 2014.

Who would have thought it were possible to pack out a stadium of that size in the modern boxing era, when a full to the rafters Wembley stadium saw 80,000 passionate boxing fans turn out for the super-middleweight world title fight.

Perhaps this was the catalyst for a lot of the recent success of the British boxing market, both in terms of its commercial appeal within the sport, but more importantly, number of world champions.

The passion of British boxing fans compared to the atmosphere experienced at American boxing events is louder, more intense, too.

I can remember growing up seeing plenty of compelling match ups on TV emanating from the UK, whether it was involving boxing legends like Prince Naseem Hamed, Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn, Steve Collins, Lennox Lewis and later Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe, but I recall that iconic places like Madison Square Garden and Caesars Palace were the then Mecca's of big time boxing.

Over a period of a couple of decades that's changed, ten-fold.

Granted, Madison Square Garden is still an iconic boxing destination and does hold regular big boxing events as of today's times, but it's now the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and venues in the UK like the Manchester Arena and the O2 Arena that seem to be putting on a lot of the big fights now.

One contributing factor to some of the big bouts coming to the UK in recent years could lay very well in the success of the pay per view model, that notably boxing promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sports has leveraged quite well for his stable of boxers.

Under the model with broadcaster Sky Sports, fighters have been able to earn considerable chunks of cash for their services in a time where many free to air / network television stations in the UK had bailed out of the sport, or were not able to compete money-wise with their standard rights fees on offer to promoters.

No matter what country you're from, money it would appear, is a universal language. And after all, professional boxing has always been a business at it's route core.

It would seem that American fighters, managers and indeed promoters have taken notice of the lucrative potential to team up with people like Hearn, with a case in point being the upcoming IBF heavyweight title fight between champion Charles Martin and Anthony Joshua.

Despite American Martin being the champion and the fight only being his first defense, he's taken a rather difficult proposition and in Joshua's hometown of London for his first fight since winning the belt, due to the opportunity to make life changing money for the fight that he simply couldn't make in America at the moment.

It's a sign of the times and a sign of the Brits continuing to dominate the boxing market, with further evidence of this perhaps existing in recent speculation that US boxing adviser and all round powerhouse within the industry, Al Haymon, looking to potentially get his hands on some of this juicy UK boxing pie.

This of course also comes at a time where famed US boxer Floyd Mayweather recently joined forces with UK boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, in a bid to stage fights with the UK's promoter's now powerful stable of fighters within the sweet science in conjunction with Mayweather's promotional company's athletes.

But it's not just the money on offer for boxers to earn that is giving further weight to the UK boxing sphere at the moment, it's the overall quality and consistency of the fights taken place there as well.

With Al Haymon's new Premier Boxing Champions product seeming to be slightly loosing steam at the moment, with not always consistent bouts produced and marketed to the American boxing public, the UK have already put on big fights like Carl Frampton vs Scott Quigg and soon to be Martin vs Joshua inside the first four months of 2016.

But perhaps the pro boxing landscape change between the two countries has also had some slightly deeper seeded reasons for it, too.

Take amateur boxing for example.

Britain churned out quite a roster of talented Olympians at the last Olympics in 2012, which as it turned out, was in London, whereas the American amateur program in recent times even before 2012 has been somewhat lacking, at least compared to what it used to be.

Fighters like James De Gale for example, who won Olympic Gold in 2008 for Britain, has went on to become a world champion as a pro.

In any sport, grass roots is arguably one of the most important ingredients to developing talent at the top tier eventually, and the UK and indeed head GB coach Rob McCracken have understood this very well in recent years - with McCracken coaching Froch in the pro ranks during his stellar career too.

Recently Manchester's Joe Gallagher was voted the 2015 Ring Magazine trainer of the year, adding a further layer to the almost British boxing type takeover that the sport is experiencing at the moment, between world champions, elite level trainers and pay per view bonanzas alike.

But don't count the Americans out just yet.

These trends are always cyclical in nature and with big fights to look forward to soon like Canelo vs Khan and Thurman vs Porter taking place on US shores, there are still plenty of meaningful contests to look forward to Stateside.

However the old adage of fighters needing to go to America to make it big as pro boxers is now long gone, that much I do know.

Time will tell how the boxing landscape between these two old rival nations evolves in the coming years.