Boxing News: Why women’s boxing leaves the men’s game in the dust

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This weekend finally sees the delayed 02 Arena women’s boxing supercard take place. The main event will pit Claressa Shields against Savannah Marshall for the undisputed middleweight championship. The main supporting cast features Mikaela Mayer opposite Alycia Baumgardner. There are also releases for Olympic gold medalist Lauren Price, Olympic bronze medalist Karriss Artingstall and undefeated prospect Caroline Dubois. It’s a show stacked from top to bottom.

This stacked show is just more proof that women’s boxing is a landscape where the biggest fights are made. This year, we’ve already seen Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano square off in the biggest women’s fight in sports history. This Taylor win will be up there when Fight of the Year voting begins, but it was far from unique. In the 17 weight classes in boxing, there are 12 unified female champions. In men’s boxing, there are nine. The female half of the sport is just more efficient at getting the best in the ring with the best.

The road to the biggest fights hasn’t been so easy in men’s boxing. Currently, the welterweight unification of WBC, WBA and IBF champion Errol Spence Jr with his WBO counterpart Terence Crawford is pending. The fight has been on the table for years and, with Spence winning the WBA belt from Yordenis Ugas in April, it finally seemed like the right time to pull the trigger. But after months of talks, we are still no closer to the two best 147-pounders in the world sharing a ring.

The heavyweight division has been the subject of similarly sloppy talk in recent years. At one point or another, various combinations of Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk, Deontay Wilder and Andy Ruiz Jr could have given us an undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. All of those potential fights fell apart. Even without the added complication of four heavyweight belts, “AJ” vs. Fury just disintegrated again.

So why is women’s boxing coming together in a way its male equivalent can only dream of? There is certainly something to be said for being a growing sport. While professional men’s boxing is centuries old and has its neuroses firmly entrenched, there is a sense of the new world around the women’s game. With his relatively recent rise to prominence, he seems adept at trying to iron out some of the weaker aspects of the men’s game.

There’s also the fact that as a relatively young discipline on the mainstream scene, fighters have less to lose. Few female fighters walk around with bulky 50-fight records just waiting to be shattered by an untimely loss. There are exceptions, of course. Veteran Serrano has 46 fights under her multiple world championship belts. But other big names fought much less. Katie Taylor is 21-0. This weekend’s main events each have 12-0 records. World title fights tend to happen faster in women’s boxing, meaning these fighters don’t amass 20 learner fights against boxers with losing records before meeting ranked challengers.

Women’s boxing is closer to mixed martial arts than men’s boxing in this respect. In the UFC, fighters can lose fights and have the opportunity to bounce back. Their defeats are seen simply as a willingness to fight all comers rather than a stain on their character. In the game of men’s boxing, where marketing a fighter’s 0 is paramount, too many boxers go through their careers avoiding defeat rather than chasing the biggest wins.

That leaves us where we are now, with the best women in boxing competing while the best men in boxing avoid each other. That’s why cards like Saturday’s O2 extravaganza should be savored. Where else are you going to see two back-to-back big-money title unifications, on a card adorned with a new generation of Olympic talent and up-and-coming prospects? If fights like ‘AJ’-Fury and Spence-Crawford continue to be overlooked, then certainly not in men’s boxing.

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds are subject to change

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