In September we were lucky enough to strike a deal where we worked alongside CBC in Japan to bring the fans the fantastic FOTY contender between Kosei Tanaka and Sho Kimura live. On paper the bout looked brilliant but it easily exceeded our expectations, going from what we suspect would be a very good fight and was instead a real instant classic.
Prior to us reaching out to CBC it seemed like the bout would be limited in scope to only having a live audience in the Chukyo region of Japan.
Those who know Japanese boxing they will be well aware that the region isn't one of the major boxing markets, like Toyko and Osaka are. Instead the area has a small, but solid, boxing market, with the likes of Kosei Tanaka and Kento Hatanaka really being the rising local names. In the 1990's Kento's father Kiyoshi Hatanaka was the big name and he's now the key promoter in the region, and actually has his shows on CBC.
When we approached CBC it did take a while for them to get back to us and it seemed like they were unsure what they were going to do in regards to doing an international broadcast of the fight. I suspect our original request may have caught them off-guard. Thankfully though they took the request seriously and the Producer for International Co-production got in touch with us, which eventually lead us discussing boxing and quickly striking an agreement to show the WBO Flyweight title bout, for free, to anyone outside of Japan. This was a massive coup for us, and whilst the bout was free on youtube the fact we played a part in making it accessible was massive for us as a website.
We'll admit that prior to the stream actually going live we were worried. We spent over a week trying to raise as much interest as we could. We knew fight fans in the West were interested in Kosei Tanaka's rise through the ranks, as he attempted to tie Vasyl Lomachenko's record for fewest fights to become a 3-weight champion. We also knew Western fans wanted to see more of Sho Kimura, following his 3 big wins coming in to the fight. We also knew that American fans were having to stay up incredibly late to watch the bout, whilst European fans may have booked the day off work.
There was genuine fear that things would go down, that the stream would be buggy and poor, that the feed would pause at a key moment. That fear turned out to be incredibly misguided. From the moment the live countdown stopped to the post-fight interview with Tanaka the stream was amazing. It was high quality from the off, with no issues at all, it was smooth and worked perfectly. The fact their was no commentary at all was amazing, and helped us all soak up the atmosphere of an amazing fight. It really was fantastic and the only complaint we can even think about making is that we didn't get the chance to see some of the undercard as well.
In this day and age of paid apps and internet subscription services it's kinda funny that one of the very best bouts of the year was put on a free international stream that no one paid for.
Prior to the stream going live we had set a relatively respectable target of 300 live viewers. Compared to the numbers possible for a high profile bout on a weekend in the US or UK that's a tiny number, but given the day and time of the fight and the fact it was two Japanese fighters fighting in a Flyweight bout we thought it was a fair target. We never told anyone at CBC that we would see that number as a success.
Amazingly however it peaked at well over double that number and over the days that followed, it ended with nearly 10,000 views, on the official video. That, to us, easily out did any expectation we had. We have to thank CBC for putting the stream on, and you, the readers of this, for their support of boxing in Japan and hopefully that support will continue and that Tanaka's next bout will also be available for free.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces