Traditionally one of the last things I do for the year is write an open (and often drunk) letter, long term readers will likely be aware of these as they have happened the last few years and new readers...well you'll get a look into my psyche for a few moments.
So...2021... what a shit year. What a completely and utterly shit year. I thought 2020 was bad, but I looked through it with excitement of what 2021 would bring, but I think 2021 broke that hope in many ways. We started the year so well, and had our fight of the Year in January. But then things never really reached those same peaks. Instead it was frustration and disappointment over and over and over again. 2020 sucked, but it looked like a relief compared to what was set to come in 2021.
Whilst a lot of the issues from 2020 re-appeared, such as Covid and the now bastard of Omicron (which was a joy to go through, after having an original strain of Covid in early 2020), there was also the issue of TBS becoming ultra defensive in terms of their copyright (a risk we were always aware of but didn't expect them to kill 3 of our channels on based on the fact THEY could have advertised on those videos rather than acted like a bunch of shithouses), and Isakura dying (maybe 2021 was the year of the Copyright shit). With Isakura dead we were lucky to find YoiTV but it's not the same, and the effort needed to download fights changed from a 10 minute task to a lengthy recording task.
Throyugh much of the summer boxing shut down in Japan to protect the Olympics which, lets be honest, were alright but... well... yeah that were just alright. The IOC, much like TBS, can get fucked. What was the point in running the Olympics when Japan and most the athletes seemingly didn't want to be there? And that's ignoring the BS of it not being on Free TV in the UK (yeah British for those still unaware), Europsport, like TBS and the IOC can get in the fire.
The we had Fuji TV cut their boxing content, more boxing head towards PPV in Japan and of course the end of year cancellations. I think this year, more than any other has left me wondering why the fuck we do this. Usually the love of the sport is key but they year it feels like the sport has decided to drift. Find a new lover, and leave the fans who followed it to chase a richer, more flash man, with cash to burn.
One of the great things, historically, about boxing in Asia is the fact that the fighters fight. Money is secondary. The disputes aren't, typically, about a percentage point or two. But in 2021 money has put it's claws more and more into the sport. Even Boxing Raise has been doing PPV's. We understand boxing needs money to function, but to take that money from fans, at this present moment, seemed a poor decision, and a decision that left a sour taste.
Boxing is based upon the idea of fans seeing their hero's fight and being bitten by the boxing bug. Fighter upon fighter can name their hero that inspired them. It's a shame when those stars of today are hidden away behind a paywall. A paywall that just a year earlier didn't exist. A paywall that froze millions of viewers out. A paywall that further took from fans.
I know some will look at the West and will defend the likes of DAZN, and that's great for you. Defend what you want. I'm staunchly anti-PPV, and barely even happy to pay "blind" subscription for boxing, show me what's coming up next month, believe in your product and let me decide month by month if your service is worth it. But the reality is when PPV comes into the sport loses fan base, it loses interest and it shoots it's self in the foot. Something it has been doing globally for too long.
Away from the cost of following the sport, the fact Ancajas and Golovkin were unable to fight in December in Japan further stung and further seemed like a kick in the knee, a knee that already felt bruised,
Motivation has really lacked since March and I hope it returns next year. At the very least the site will continue to report notable results, and major debuts. We will continue to share OPENLY available videos, and we will preview major bouts. The other content will, however, be limited, until a time when I feel comfortable returning to what we used to do.
Rather than ending this on a low however, lets look back over what a year we've had. We had the joy of seeing Josh Warrington give up his title, only to be battered a few months later, we saw Kid Galahad getting KTFO'd by Kiko Martinez (who I think we all love), we saw Hinata Maruta finally put in some performances that showed what he was capable of, Jukiya Iimura's rise was great, Marlon Tapales showed what a nightmare he was in battering Teshigawara, Kenichi Ogawa put together an amazing performance, Oleksandr Usyk showed what he could do at Heavyweight, Gonzalez Vs Estrada II was amazing, we had so many amazing upsets, and, of course, we saw Kuga Vs Furuhashi (and their rematch is set for January!).
We had some great fights. We had some great moments. We had some amazing in ring action. Fingers crossed for more of that in 2022, and less of this frustrating bullshit that has made following the sport such a pain in the arse this year. Hopefully promoters realise they need fans onside and making boxing cost such an obscene amount to follow isn't a good idea. Throw some crumbs towards fans, keep them interested, as boxing is the one sport that totally takes the piss out of fans. If they can keep folk onside, then 2022 has the potential to be a great year... That is, however, a huge IF!.
P.S. Not usually this...frustrated!
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features