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Friday, September 29, 2023


Resurgence of boxing can hook growth into Houston

We have had no major boxing events since the prolific fight between Canelo Alvarez and James Kirkland in Minute Maid Park.

Houston needs to concentrate more on boxing to benefit from the revenue and the culture. Although it’s not the perfect sport for our city, it can be a fun alternative to some of the more well-known sporting events.

Despite our somewhat storied past, Houston’s boxing scene suffers from a lack of gyms and a unified boxing venue.

We are now in 2016. During the 1980s, the now-defunct Houston Boxing Association hosted a plethora of bouts, mostly in hotels, that included the likes of Mike Tyson and Frank Tate. Even Muhammad Ali fought a total of four times, winning and retaining belts in possibly the most-befitting arena in terms of magnanimity: The Astrodome.

In recent years, Juan Díaz was in the spotlight during his tenure as the WBA World Lightweight Champion, drawing big crowds to the Reliant and Toyota centers more than 15 years ago.

While today’s boxing can’t compete with the times when families would gather around their television to watch a title fight on a major network, the sport is still a largely profitable business with a persistent pulse.

Houston has a handful of boxing events each year, but they are small or amateur fights scattered throughout the city. Often times located outside Loop 610, the venues range from small event centers to flea markets that don’t attract crowds outside of the metropolitan area.

Granted, Houston’s sprawling nature is not analogous to the dense, industrial cities that are known for their boxing culture such as Philadelphia. No undisputed venue and little trace of boxing culture don’t serve as magnets to the sport’s more prominent fights.

Houston is not a city of casinos and will not likely be one, so the congenial nature of Las Vegas or Atlantic City is not an attribute Houston can tout.

The scarcity of boxing legacies, aside from George Foreman, is likely due to the lack of major events at Houston localities. Notable local boxers, like Othal Dixon from Beaumont and Tod Herring of Houston, are generally forgotten and their legacies not well-documented.

If the old adage that “fighters are made, not born” is true, the absence of clout from the boxing world will ensure that young boxers will shy away from their professional dreams.

Since BBVA Compass Stadium was constructed, it has hosted soccer games and concerts. Despite claiming its plans to host boxing events, none have happened — big-ticket or otherwise. A fight at this venue could be a great way to start the boxing culture in our city.

Boxing news in Houston have been quiet since the Alvarez-Kirkland fight, which was promoted by former professional boxer Oscar De La Hoya. He is also a shareholder of the Houston Dynamo and is whipping up a frenzy in the Texas sports world.

Maybe with the presence of a person like De La Hoya, a boxing legend, and his promotional prowess, Houston can rise to the level it once was in the 1980s.

Or maybe even above and beyond.

Opinion columnist Nicholas Bell is an MBA graduate student and can be reached at [email protected]

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