What The Future of Boxing Could Look Like

the future of boxing
Ajboxing.com

Predicting the future is probably as fruitful as doing the lottery, you know you are never going to win but it's fun to do every now and again anyway.

We live in a changing world in 2016, no doubt about it.

A time where change has perhaps been accelerated faster than ever before with the advent of different connected technologies.

And boxing, although it dates back to probably been one of the oldest sports out there, is being forced to change and move with the times just like every other sport - in this internet driven era we now find ourselves living in.

For the purpose of this article, lets try to look ten years ahead to what 2026 might look like for the sweet science.

Belts

The belts question is in the lap of the Gods in truth, but it will be interesting to see where it goes over the next decade.

At present the WBC, WBO, WBA and IBF remain the four recognized main governing bodies whom professional fighters aspire to fight for's belts.

However, this has been compounded in recent memory by a series of other belts from interim titles, to silvers, to supers, to inter-continentals and many others.

There now appears to be a belt for every day of the week and the term 'alphabet belt' has been branded about for many a year in boxing.

One would hope in the future that there can be at least some sort of closer alignment of the major belts.

The confusion that has been caused as a result of an overflow of titles in professional boxing has confused fans the world over and if some of the above organizations decided to work together, perhaps there could be a move towards going back to the old days - where there was one recognized belt holder / champion per weight class.

As of 2016 boxing power broker Al Haymon's plan of creating one global franchise in boxing to eliminate the need for belts, where all the best boxers fight under one promotional banner, doesn't quite appear to be working it would seem. 

Time will tell if his Premier Boxing Champions venture succeeds.

Heavyweights

The success of the heavyweight division I suspect will always have a significant impact on the popularity of the sport of boxing overall, and with a new current crop breaking through in 2016, I see things as very bright over the next ten years in this regard.

New talent such as Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Hughie Fury and many others will see a significant pick up in the interest of boxing over the next decade I feel.

Anthony's Joshua's recent win of the IBF heavyweight title might have come a bit premature in many pundit's eyes, but he's certainly a legitimate future star of the division in my view.

Whether or not this era of heavyweight boxing will be compared with some of the great eras of heavyweight boxing in the past remains to be seen. But the future is nonetheless bright.

The titles might swap hands a few times, but if one undisputed heavyweight champion with an exciting style can emerge from the pack over the next ten years, then the sport of boxing once again can have a mega star to attach itself to.

The current crop of exciting heavyweights in the UK might continue to precipitate the trend of big fights taking place in the UK as opposed to the USA.

TV and Online

I'd expect a massive change in the coming decade as to how the sport of boxing is consumed by fans, both from a live event point of view but perhaps more importantly - from an at home viewing standpoint.

As of 2016, it has been reported that in the near future the NFL will be streaming a lot of their content in America directly over social media network Twitter.

I would expect sports like boxing to follow suit in a similar manner over the next ten years.

We've already seen live streaming of one of WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder's defenses on YouTube this year, and with the constant growth of the internet, this will surely only lead to more opportunities for this type of coverage in the future.

Maybe boxing's pay per view model will end up on the internet soon enough too, in a bid to combat fans streaming events online for free.

Cross Promotion with the UFC / MMA

As both mixed martial arts and boxing as sports continue to prosper as of 2016, I can't help but thinking that one day will see more of a merging of the two, as both sports' younger audiences grow up together and watch both sports.

With the likes of Floyd Mayweather having previously mentioned he'd be interested in getting involved in promoting mixed martial arts athletes some day, it could very well happen.

Also consider the fact that mixed martial arts premier brand as of 2016, the UFC, has ownership that comes from a very strong background in boxing.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if both sports keep growing and their young audiences keep watching each sport, that eventually a collaboration could make sense.

Fighter Self-Promotion

Social media has arguably been the single biggest change in how boxing is promoted in recent memory and as of 2016 with social media platforms continuing to explode, this trend is surely only going to continue over the next decade.

We now live in a time where a majorly well known fighter can send out a controversial tweet on Twitter or post on Facebook that can garner far more eyeballs than any traditional media company could ever muster up for them.

If this trend continues, perhaps the fighters will start becoming their own promoters more and more, and particularly the athletes that have large, highly engaged social media followings.

You only need to look at recent tweets from the UFC's Conor McGrgegor where mentioned he was retiring before UFC 200 to show the power that some famous athletes now have on a PR level from their social media accounts.

3D / Virtual Reality Viewing

Virtual reality entertainment and content viewing is really in the news lately as of 2016 when it comes to what some of the big tech company's are investing in for the future and from a boxing level, it could have very interesting implications indeed.

The sport of boxing one would think would be highly engaging in 3D or via a live virtual reality device, where potentially you could see a match-up transported into you're living room like never before.

At the speed that technology is accelerating at the moment who knows, perhaps we'll see this come to fruition on a consistent scale for fans over the next decade.

Conclusion

As the great Mike Tyson once said:

"What we did in the past is history, what we do in the future is a mystery."

Predicting the future is always going to be a long-shot type exercise but from a boxing perspective, a very fun one considering the positive time we are currently experiencing as a sport.

Perhaps this positive growth will ultimately be only helped by one main thing, one timeless factor that has always been needed for this great sport to excel and for fans to get excited about a fight.

The best fighting the best and fights getting made that fans genuinely want to see. Simple.

If this can be achieved long into the future and indeed over the next ten years, I don't see any reason why boxing once again cannot become a mainstream sport like it was in it's glory days.

Stranger things have happened, that's for sure.

From this writer's perspective, at the current age of 28 at the time of this article, I hope in ten years time to still be alive and covering this great sport.

A sport that has given us all as fans so many great memories and experiences to cherish over the years, and no doubt will continue to do so long into the future.

Bring on the next ten years of boxing.