Last night boxing promoter announced that WBA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (19-0, 11) [дмитрий бивол] would finally get the huge fight his career has been needing, as he will be return on May 7th to take on Mexican megastar Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (57-1-2, 39), with Bivol seeking to defend his title against the undisputed Super Middleweight champion.
The bout, one of the most interesting bouts that could be made at 175lbs, gives both men a chance to prove something. It gives Canelo a great chance to become a 2-time Light Heavyweight champion, proving that he really is a pound for pound great, and modern legend. As for Bivol it gives him a massive chance to show what he's capable of against a legitimately well regarded opponent, a stark change from his recent run against under-whelming challengers like Lenin Castillo, Craig Richards and Umar Salamov.
Whilst the bout is a genuinely interesting one, pitting the skills, body punching and under-rated defense of Canelo against the methodical approach and understated skills of Bivol, the biggest talking point after the fight was announced was, sadly, not the fight it's self. Which is a very good fight but not a headline grabbing super fight, or even a fight that looks likely to be a major success. In fact the fight might be the best out there for Canelo in terms of quality of opponent, but not in terms of marketability, or star power.
Despite Bivol being something of a dull fighter to watch, who last fought in the US in 2019, and has had a string of dreary bouts, with the ones against Castillo, Richards and Salamov all being under-whelming displays from the Kyrgyzstan born champion, this bout will be the first that sees DAZN break their long standing promise of no PPV. In fact the bout will only be available on PPV in USA and Canada, a decision that has seen a lot of fans turn on DAZN, with even DAZN subscribers being charged a 1-off fee for the show. Something they repeatedly promised not to do.
Whilst the fight is a good one, we're not sure how many DAZN subscribers in the PPV territories will be willing to pull out a further $59.99 for the fight, though that is a discount compared to those who aren't subscribers. In many ways however this is a move towards something bigger with DAZN, and a clear sign that their model isn't going to work in the long term.
Back on October 29th Hideyuki Ohashi officially announced that WBA and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) [井上 尚弥] would face Thai challenger Aran Dipaen (12-2, 11) [แก่นนคร ศักดิ์กรีรินทร์] on December 14th at the Ryogoku Kokugikan, in what seemed like a bit of fan service for Japanese fans, who hadn't see their star fight in Japan since November 2019, when he beat Nonito Donaire.
Sadly however the bouts seems like a bit of fan service, and instead a move away from what we've become accustomed to in Japanese boxing. Instead of working with Inoue's usual broadcaster, Fuji TV, the bout will instead be streamed on PPV via PBX world, on the ABEMA streaming service. Potentially ending the long, and successful, relationship between Inoue and Fuji TV, who's future in the sport is starting to look worrying uncertain.
Fuji had, at one point, the best TV roster of any channel in Japan, working with Inoue, Ryota Murata [村田 諒太], Kenshiro Teraji [寺地 拳四朗], Daigo Higa [比 嘉 大吾], Masayuki Ito [伊藤 雅雪] and Akira Yaegashi [八重樫 東], all being shown on free TV. Sadly though those days seem to be long gone, with Yaegashi now retired, Ito having not featured on the channel since losing the WBO Super Featherweight title, Higa now being shown on rival network TBS, Kenshiro having his last two bouts streamed online and Murata now seemingly linking up with Amazon Prime, and Inoue going to PPV on a streaming service. It now seems as if Fuji TV have cut live boxing out of their schedule, a worrying sign of what may be to come.
At the press conference to announce the broadcaster for the bout the price of the event was revealed to be 3,960 Japanese Yen (around £26 or $35), and the full card will be shown.
Whilst PPV has taken off in boxing in the US and UK, among other countries, one of the best things about boxing in Japan was the wide access to the sport, with big bouts typically being on free TV. This move, sadly, appears to signal that the biggest stars in Japanese boxing are now no longer going to be as accessible as they've been in the past, which is a huge shame, but unfortunately a sign of the times.
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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