Earlier today Indian sports fans got a taste of something new, PPV boxing, and it may well end up being a one and done, at least for now, due to the result in the main event. Which we'll get on to in a few moments.
The event in question was much cheaper than boxing is in the West but it was still an attempt to shake up the sporting scene in India. The event was available over BookMyShow and cost Rs99 (about £1 or $1.30). It was, according to reports in the Indian media, the first major sporting event ever to be shown on PPV in India.
Although the cost was certainly affordable it was still something new, and they obviously had to put a bankable name on the show to attract interest. With that in mind there was only one Indian they could really do that with, Vijender Singh (12-1, 8).
Singh is the hero of Indian professional boxing. He not the only Indian professional, as some might think, or the only notable Indian boxer, but he is, easily, the biggest Indian name in the sport. In fact he was the man that both Frank Warren and Bob Arum expected to use to open up the Indian boxing market. He was the bankable star of Indian boxing, and the man used to lead the PPV revolution of boxing in India.
Whilst he was a stand out amateur and turned professional with a lot of buzz his career has, sadly, been cursed with inactivity and now, aged 35, he is well past his best. Given his age it's fair to say that he's not the fighter he once was.
Sadly for those in India hoping Singh would become a major face of PPV he was up against Russian visitor Artysh Lopsan (5-1-1, 3), and Lopsan had different ideas to Singh and those behind the Indian PPV model.
Singh got off to the ideal start, dropping Lopsan with a straight right hand in round 2. That however wasn't enough to see off the Russian, who bounced back well. In round 4 Singh was down 3 times himself, as ring, father time and, of course, Lopsan got to him. At the end of round 4 Singh looked about done. He seemed spent. Sadly for him he had to come out again in round 5, and was dropped again. This time it was too much, and he took the count, suffering his first loss as a professional.
Whilst the big story is the result, with Vijender Singh suffering his first defeat, the sub story is that PPV boxing in India may now be dead on arrival thanks to their biggest star being shocked by an unheralded Russian visitor.
One thing that has long made Japanese boxing so brilliant to fans had been the ease with which the sport is available. It's biggest fights are usually on free TV, and services like Boxing Raise have made the sport more accessible than ever before.
Japan, essentially, has no PPV market. They have some subscription TV channels, such as G+ and WOWOW showing boxing, but almost no PPV boxing at all.
With that in mind it's come as a massive surprise to learn that Hopeful Fight Vol 33 will essentially be a stand alone PPV on November 13th. Not only is it set to be one of the very, very few PPV's in Japan this year, but it's also set to be an online only PPV and comes at a frankly ridiculous price.
The event, will be headlined by Japanese Female Featherweight champion Kimika Miyoshi (15-12-1, 6) [三好喜美佳] defending her title against Yoshie Wakasa (6-2, 2) [若狭与志枝], in a bout that really won't capture the attention of many. Even the hardcore fans are likely to baulk at paying for this. Amazingly however the show till be available to watch live, on November 13th, on Twitcasting.
For those hardcore enough to want to watch this, they will need to cough up a viewing fee of ¥5,000 plus a usage fee of ¥100. Essentially for fans wanting to watch this, and just, this show it will cost almost $50. For those wondering the cheapest tickets for the event are also ¥5,000.
Sadly for the Nitta Gym this isn't the first time they've gone to what is essentially a PPV model, having previously worked with a PPV broadcaster for the 2018 Japanese Middleweight title bout between Hikaru Nishida [西田 光] and Kazuto Takesako [竹迫司登].
During a time when free live streams are being provided more and more often, and when fans themselves are looking to buy broadcasting rights for events, this seems a very, very poor move from the promoters and one that has been priced to the point where almost no one will be watching.
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