Boxing fans as well known curmudgeons, who want to complain about all sorts. We often hear about how the sport was better in bygone eras, how today's fighters wouldn't have managed to hold a candle to those from yesteryear and the such. Some of the complaints are very valid, others not so. Some are ones that have persisted for decades, other are totally new issues.
Today we look at a relatively new issue... the state of the GAB streams.
GAB, or the Games and Amusements Board, is the body that oversees professional sport in the Philippines. They also put on free streams of certain Filipino boxing events, such as today's "Deadly Combination".
It can be hard to complain about getting something for free, but the reality is that the free streams for events like this are an advert for the promoter, the GAB and the fighters. Yes fans aren't paying to watch the streams, though the people doing the show could easily fit in commercials if financials behind the streams needed to be looked. Or rather they could fit in commercials if they had a stream that fucking worked!
Today's event was streamed on Facebook, it's self a weird decision when Youtube seems the more straight forward and popular option, and through out the show it stopped, it started, it paused the image and kept the sound rolling, it froze complete, needed resetting and simply didn't work. At least not until near the end, with the final 2 bouts working perfectly.
So, given how the last 2 bouts were streamed, we know it's possible for them to run a consistent, smooth stream. So what the fuck were they doing through the rest of the show? The only logical answer is that they were testing things, but given the sheer number of bouts ruined for viewers by whatever it was, it would have been some of the slowest, clumsiest testing ever.
We may be spoiled in some ways with the professional level free streams that CBC, YTV and RCC put on for their events, but GAB look like they are so far behind every one in terms of production value, and overall streaming quality.
At their most basic a stream of an event needs a single camera and to run from start to end without stopping, freezing or anything else. It's consistency of the stream that is absolute vital.
After having a consistent stream they can then look to add things, such as multiple camera angles, replays, and commentary. But these are a bonus on what should be the foundation of a free, consistent stream.
The GAB have a brilliant position in the world of boxing, and their streams have the potential to open up a new audience to fighters on their shows. This could have been a great chance for fight fans to get a chance to see some of the emerging talent on the show, but instead it was little more than a frustration, a genuine nightmare of a stream. In fact it was so bad that it would have been better to have not had any sort of feed at all for the under-card. At least that way those viewing wouldn't have been angry at trying to watch the event, and wouldn't have sworn off going back.
If the GAB have any common sense, they will continue to do these free streams, but they should begin to look at running them through YouTube, with a single camera feed. Getting that down, then building on the basic. There are things that could prove to be an issue, such as music licensing, but even that can be solved by simply muting the microphone and not picking up ring walk music.
It can be hard, and sometimes unfair, to complain about things that are free, but the reality is that free shouldn't mean shit. The GAB need to sort these out, ASAP, before people get to the point of skipping them all together, and doing something else with their time, before waiting for the fights to be uploaded as stand alone videos.
There is a demand for Filipino boxing, and it's an international appeal in some cases, so please GAB, understand these could be something that could attract a decent, consistent, viewing number. But they need to work as streams, and they need to be well advertised in advance, get people talking and get people watching, sticking around and watch next time, rather than the few watching being being pissed off and turning off.
So we're into a new year and we've already had some good, some bad and some ugly! Yes the year waits for no man!
1-Da Won Gang - Korean teen to get excited about
Korean teenager Da Won Gang went pretty under the radar in 2019, despite winning the Battle Royal at 140lbs. It seems hard to imagine him still being under the radar at the end of 2020 though, and in fact it seems very likely that he will end up winning the KBM titles before the end of the year. A really exciting one to watch.
2-Ginjiro Shigeoka - The Rising Shines Again
On the final of 2019 Ginjiro Shigeoka took a huge step up to face Rey Loreto, and stopped the Filipino veteran in 5 rounds. Whilst the stoppage, by the referee, wasn't amazing there was little to take negatively from Shigeoka, who looked sharp, tough, exciting and heavy handed. There is obviously still work to do, but the youngster already looks like a nailed on future world champion, and given his lazy of physical stature it's likely he'll be at 105lbs for a long time.
3-Jhunriel Ramonal - New Japanese Killer on the Prowl
The Philippines may well have the spiritual success to Jess Maca at last, Jhunriel Ramonal completed a 2019 that saw him earn the Japanese Killer tag. Maca, for those unaware, was a thorn in the side of Japanese boxers in the late 90's and early 00's and after the year Ramonal had he's now set to take that same tag. In 2019 Ramonal travelled to Japan and upset Shingo Wake before returning and scoring another upset over Yusaku Kuga. The reality is that Ramonal is beatable, but no one can take liberties with him, and he'll almost certainly be back in the Land of the Rising Sun in 2020, with Japanese fighters looking for revenge and Ramonal looking to build on his current moment.
1-Korean Promoters streams on a phone?
The first Asian show of 2020 was streamed on Youtube on January 5th, and it appears that it was streams on a phone left on top of a corner. Whilst a stream, even one this bad, is better than nothing, it's still a shame that they couldn't have a better quality stream. The card it's self was exciting enough, but the blurry image didn't do it any favours. It was also strange that it seemed the fights were fought in a ring set up in a corner in a gym. Very weird set up overall.
2-No set TV date for Shigeoka Vs Loreto..if it will ever be televised
Japanese boxing on TV is awkward at times. The G+ shows, which air the full card live, and the Boxing Raise cards, which are either live or on demand, are great. Sadly though shows on Fuji TV and TBS are less great as a viewer. For the most part the channels only air world title bouts live, and then put other broadcasts together with tape delay footage. In theory they should, at some point, show Ginjiro Shigeoka's win over Rey Loreto on tape delay but as of the time of writing there is no set date for that. The leads to another bad. Both TBS and Fuji have alternate channels, available through satellite, which tend to show rather random stuff at the best of times. Why the channels don't put undercards on those is a genuine mystery. Come on Japanese TV channels, sort it out! Give us the undercards dammit!
Thankfully we've not really had any ugly so far this year. Though we haven't really had much of anything so far. Action does pick up in the middle of the month, so expect some questionable decisions, poor stoppages and bizarre boxing politics to kick in in a week or two, but for now nothing is ugly as such!
In saying that however it does leave a bad taste seeing the January 30th show in Florida being sold primarily on the back of Jake Paul Vs Ali Eson Gib...this appears to be the way of modern day boxing folks!
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