No, unlike the WWE, professional boxing isn’t staged or fake. The two boxers are genuinely fighting under the Marquess of Queensbury Rules. This means there are some regulations on what is or isn’t permissible during the bout. However, the fights aren’t scripted or rehearsed, the fighters are actually fighting and actively trying to hurt their opponent in an attempt to render them unconscious. Hence why professional boxing and professional wrestling are simply incomparable.
I believe the notion that professional boxing is fake stems from the fact that professional wrestling is rehearsed. Those who make this assumption usually aren’t too familiar with boxing or combat sports but the confusion is understandable. Especially from younger audiences who are discovering these different sports and forms of entertainment.
I think the word “professional” is partially responsible for these assumptions. Staged wrestling the WWE is labeled as “pro-wrestling” hence why many children believe the fights to be genuine when they are young. Professionalism has connotations of elite, serious competition which frankly juxtaposes the WWE on a fundamental level.
While they are both undeniably great forms of entertainment, professional boxing and wrestling couldn’t be further apart. Since they are both referred to as professional sports, its easy to be misled and misinterpret the actualities behind these sports.
Can Boxing Be Faked
Boxing in theory isn’t fake and generally speaking, all high-profile fights will be genuine. However, while it would require lots of planning to orchestrate a believable fake match, it is technically possible. If a fighter does decide to take a “dive” there could be huge legal implications, especially in countries with athletic commissions.
Of course, there is corruption in every industry. Hence, nothing is impossible but insinuating that the governing bodies, promoters, and athletic commissions would sign off on something as egregious as a “dive” is frankly ridiculous.
The other reason why boxing is difficult to fake is that it’s difficult to fake fighting. Real punches are thrown in boxing, so there are so many variables to consider when faking a fight. If the fighter who accepted the dive was to go down immediately, it would look suspicious. But at the same time, he can’t fight back too much in case he accidentally hurts his opponent. This makes faking a fight very difficult in boxing because you have to show a compelling and realistic fight while keeping the action under control.
At the highest level of the sport, the vast majority of boxers hold their pride to an incredibly high standard. Many of them would be disgusted by the idea of taking a dive. To throw away a match would be one of the most shameful and immoral things a fighter can do. Elite fighters have an excellent understanding of this because integrity and respect are the most valued quality in any boxing gym.
Can Boxing Be Rigged
While boxing can’t really be “faked”, there is a lot of speculation around whether boxing is rigged in terms of point scoring and decisions. For the most part, I think boxing judges are usually able to score the fight appropriately. However, since viewpoints are subjective many people will often disagree with the judges and label the fight a robbery. In most cases, it’s usually unfair to label a fight as a robbery, especially when it’s close but this is very common in the boxing community. Especially when the fighter that you were supporting loses.
However, there are also times when there have been blatant robberies in boxing due to bias or unprofessional scoring. This usually happens if a fighter is well connected to one of the judges or if the fight occurs in one of the fighter’s home countries which can lead to bias. This is never justifiable or fair regardless of whether the judges are knowingly or unknowingly biased. Hence why its important to have judges who can think critically and make calculated decisions.
Listed below are a few examples of fights that have been widely regarded as robberies:
- Fury vs Wilder
- Pacquiao vs Bradley Jr
- Roy Jones Jr vs Park Si-Hun
- Pernell Whittaker vs Julio Cesar Chavez
Why Rigging Fights Doesn’t Always Make Sense
Frankly, rigging fights doesn’t make much sense at the highest level. For a fight to be faked there has to be some substantial monetary gain. But if we take a quick look through some of the biggest fights in history, we can see that rigging would potentially make monetary sense. But despite this, the underdog or the smaller financial draw wins the bout. If boxing was based purely on popularity rather than merit, all the iconic boxers from the past wouldn’t have ever been defeated. Listed below are some examples of when popular boxers who lost decisions:
- Anthony Joshua vs Oleksander Uysk
- Mike Tyson vs Lennox Lewis
- Canelo Alvarez vs Dimitry Bivol
So for the most part we’ve established that boxing isn’t fake. However, it does have a few elements that are rather similar to the WWE or any fighting promotion for that matter. What we’re talking about is drama. Put simply, animosity sells. The general public is always drawn to controversy simply because its interesting and stimulating. This means that boxers will often dramatize a fight, this can be done through a wide variety of methods but the most common is creating a personal grievance with your opponent even if you are cordial with them. While this can be seen as “fake” it is only done to sell tickets or PPVs and has no actual bearing on the outcome of the match.
An excellent example of this is when Floyd Mayweather Jr faced Conor McGregor in 2017. While they had no real issue with each other, they both said outrageous things purely for attention. The press conferences were pure entertainment and that’s how they were able to sell over 4 million PPV buys for the fight.
This would be comparable to something like the WWE, in the sense that it was done to create a compelling story for the fans. Neither Mayweather or McGregor had any personal grievance with each other, aside from the desire to prove themselves to be the best. Outside of competition, there was no genuine reason for either of these two to dislike each other.
The fight however, was genuine. Both fighters put on a great show for the fans and the fight ended with a 10th round victory for Mayweather via TKO. At the post fight press conference, both Floyd and Conor showed respect and admiration for each other despite all the things they said prior to the bout.
To conclude, for the most part, professional boxing isn’t fake or staged. While there is speculation surrounding fights being rigged, a lot of them are simply close fights. The judges are usually fair with how they score fights and if the public is disheartened by the outcome, we often label the fight a robbery or “rigged”.
However, there is an argument to be made about the fakery when it comes to theatrical promotion. Boxers can exaggerate to create drama with their opponents in order to sell the fight. While some people may view this as fake or unethical, I’d like to think most people can enjoy the show.