MMA vs Boxing: When it comes to social media clout, there is no comparison

We look at the followings of both sports online among the most high profile exponents

BY Raf Diallo 18:18 Thursday 15 December 2016, 18:18 15 Dec 2016

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tom Hogan

When it comes to fight cards next year in boxing, 2017 promises much.

From an Irish perspective, St Patrick's weekend provides plenty of interest with Michael Conlan, Paddy Barnes and Katie Taylor all set to be in action in New York.

Elsewhere, Tony Bellew and David Haye's bout takes place a couple of week's before that on March 4th, while this week has spurred the build up to a heavyweight contest between rising star Anthony Joshua and a former long time champion in the shape of a Wladimir Klitschko.

It's a fight that is generating some hype.

But as 2008 Olympic silver medalist Kenneth Egan said on Newstalk, it may not end up being particularly enthralling given that Joshua is unproven and Klitschko is past his peak and will be 41 by the time the fight comes around on April 29th.

It's a far cry from the heavyweight era from the 1970s for example where fight titles like Rumble in the Jungle and Thrilla in Manila live on in the collective memory of sports fans.

There's been a perception in recent years though that mixed-martials arts and specifically the UFC promotion have been stealing boxing's thunder.

The rise of Conor McGregor and the status of other fighters like Ronda Rousey have been part of that in recent years and social media crystalises the disparity between the two fight sports.

In an increasingly social media-centric world, UFC boasts 4.7 million followers on its official and verified Twitter page, while individual MMA fighters like McGregor (more than 3 million) and (3.23 million) also have large followings.

Smaller promotions like Bellator (257K) have significant but smaller followings on Twitter.

The scenario for professional boxing is very different. Split into different organisations at the elite level, let's take the four recognised by the International Boxing Hall of Fame: WBC (World Boxing Council), WBO (World Boxing Organisation), WBA (World Boxing Association), IBF (International Boxing Federation).  

Between those four bodies, they only amass about 200K Twitter followers between them in total, with the WBC leading the way with 96K followers.

When you compare that with UFC, the gap is a wide canyon.

Meanwhile, individual boxers like Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua for example boast 304K and 797K followers on Twitter respectively.

Facebook is also reflective of the social media gap between MMA and pro boxing.

UFC has over 20 million Facebook likes, while Conor McGregor has almost 5 million on his official page.

Meanwhile WBO (535K), WBC (838K), IBF (13.6K) and WBA (206K) lag behind in total in that regard. 

Individually, for example, Joshua (1.4 million) and Klitschko (1.9 million) have large followings but not compared to a McGregor.

Social media of course doesn't tell you everything about the popularity of sports as its not an exact science but it does suggest that MMA holds an advantage in that sphere heading into the future.

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