Fights that capture the attention of non boxing fans

Deontay Wilder Tyson Fury fight night

Sean Michael Ham

Boxing’s popularity has lasted for generations. Regardless of the weight division or location, fans tune in and are enthralled by every element of a fight. Boxers that win those iconic bouts can become heroes overnight and this impact can be long-lasting. 

Certain fights manage to transcend the sport and have a wider cultural impact. They are the kind of events that people watch all over the world. Let’s look at a few from history and the impact they’ve had on the sport.

Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder

The most recent of these fights, and certainly captured the attention of everyone. The bout was covered in all sections of the media. Tyson Fury was even appearing on Saturday night talk shows.

In the centre of all this coverage came a thriving betting market. Outside of placing bets on the overall outcome, you could bet on the total rounds. Then there was whether it would go the distance and the winning method. In the online betting world, millions of people across the United States were analysing all the stats to try and see if they could get ahead of the game. After a build-up that seemed to last for an eternity, the favourite, Tyson Fury, triumphed on the night.

George Foreman v Muhammad Ali

This was a fight that certainly had an impact outside of the sport. It became one of the world’s most viewed television broadcasts as an estimated one billion people tuned in to watch. Its cultural impact was huge and the rumble in the jungle has since been referenced in several films and books throughout history. 

Mohammed Ali won the fight after a knockout in the 8th round. Although fans across the world demanded the two fight again, it just never happened. Both finished their careers with a legacy that grew outside of boxing – a feat partly due to this fight. 

Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Manny Pacquiao

This was reportedly the highest-grossing pay-per-view fight in history. In the Philippines, half of the country’s households tuned in. Boxing fans all over the world had been demanding this fight for years, and after finally being announced, it was billed as the Fight of the Century. But could it live up to the hype? 

Following a hard-fought battle between the two, Mayweather won in the 12th round. Despite some criticising it for the lack of quality, it’s not hard to argue that it was one of boxing’s great ‘where were you?’ type moments. 

Will any upcoming fights have a similar impact on the sport?

It’s hard to say, but with the social media and TV coverage, it’s easy for some fights now to build the hype and anticipation with the correct management. The recent Fury v Wilder battle recently captured the imagination of even some part-time boxing fans. The upcoming fight between Jake Paul and Tommy Fury could also bring viewers in from outside the boxing world. 

The different kinds of personalities can often influence the hype surrounding a fight. Muhammad Ali was known just as much for his politics and actions outside of the ring. This meant he picked up an adoring fanbase but also some who wanted him to lose. In more recent times, you could argue that can be said for the likes of Tyson Fury.