The Beltline: An attempt to write about boxing’s positives without using the phrase “adverse analytical finding”

It is true that there are many concerning aspects of the boxing world. Boxers getting caught using performance-enhancing drugs, failed tests being seen as inconveniences for promoters, attempts to save face rather than save lives, uncaught boxers being careful rather than clean, questionable funding for events, a growing divide between small-hall and pay-per-view boxing, the need for pay-per-view for financial success, overpaid headline fighters taking the sport hostage, fights happening in the Middle East becoming normalized, influencers exploiting the sport, a lack of ticket-sellers and an excess of world champions, the potential loss of amateur boxing as an Olympic sport, and the focus on fame rather than the athletes themselves in media coverage. However, despite all these negatives, there are reasons to have a positive outlook on boxing in 2023.

It could be argued that expecting positivity in a sport where people punch each other in the head is a strange expectation. With the ease of entry and the ability for anyone to influence its future, negativity tends to outweigh positivity in the boxing world. It is often more tempting to focus on the negatives due to experience rather than pessimism. Seeking positivity in a magazine called Boxing News is like expecting an honest conversation in a strip club. Highlighting only the few positives in the sport doesn’t provoke much thought or address the real issues at hand.

In the past, the Roman Empire used “bread and circuses” to distract citizens from deeper issues. Today, boxing too often relies on fist fights and never-ending drama to distract from its problems. Though some may argue that focusing on the bright side is simply a way to find positivity, there is only so much room for blissful ignorance in a sport like boxing. If everyone involved is either blissfully or willfully ignorant, there is little hope for addressing and solving the sport’s problems.

Previous generations would likely have been equally critical of the sport. Cheating, criminal behavior, and controversial decisions have existed throughout boxing’s history. Boxing has never pretended to be anything other than what it is – wild, erratic, and flawed. So when we do witness good days and moments of light, instead of expecting change, we should cherish them for what they are. Boxing will inherently do more harm than good, both inside and outside the ring, but when it does get it right, those moments should be cherished.

In 2023, there have been notable super-fights and great matches, as well as an increased prominence of women’s boxing. American fighters have reestablished themselves as forces in the boxing world, and we still have the excitement of heavyweight boxing if the big names decide to fight each other. Ultimately, the essence of boxing remains unchanged – two individuals risking it all in the ring in a way that no other athlete can imagine. This aspect will always make boxing compelling and unique, regardless of the negative aspects surrounding the sport.

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