Typically our focus for articles here has been Asian boxing, but today we want to slant that somewhat, and talk about something that British boxing could learn from what we saw this past weekend in Japan. And it wasn't the first time we've seen it done in Japan In fact it wasn't even the first time we saw it happen for Naoya Inoue. So please let us ramble about how British TV could learn from Japan!
This past weekend we saw a lot of boxing, on a lot of different TV outlets, and streaming services, all over the world. Genuinely there was so much boxing this past weekend that you could easily drown in it if you were that way inclined. Included in the events were several PPV's, and several shows on premium TV channels around the globe. There were also a number of bouts that aired in multiple countries.
Notably both the UK and the US had PPV boxing this weekend, with the UK having a Sky Box Office PPV and the US having a Showtime PPV, whilst many other boxing countries avoided going down that avenue. It's worth noting that the PPV model is really very rarely done outside of a small handful of countries, and in those countries we have seen the number of PPV buys per event drop notably in recent years, with the core audience of fans shrinking. The top stars are still really big draws, but the reality is that the PPV market has been pricing fans out for a while and saturating it's self, to the detriment of the sport and to benefit of a very small number of fighters.
Interestingly one country with a very vibrant boxing scene that hasn't, for the most part, gone with PPV is Japan. Instead the country has gone with a more nuanced distribution of fights spread across pay TV, free TV, online subscription and free online shows.
For the most part big fights in Japan are live on free to air TV, be it TBS or Fuji TV, and their relevant local affiliates. In the past TV Tokyo, TV Asahi and NTV have also shown big fights, and it seems likely that NTV have still got the door open for big fights in the future.
For domestic cards we see a more complex mix of free and pay.
TBS and Fuji TV show free domestic action on a somewhat regular basis, albeit on tape delay.
There are paid options for TV, with G+ being main channel for live domestic content, and for streaming, with Boxing Raise being an invaluable tool here. There is also a growing number of shows being streams for free on YouTube, thanks in part to Shinsei and Yokohama Hikari who have given us a good amount of free boxing this year.
The mix of free and paid TV in Japan is somewhat the opposite of how things work in the UK.
In the UK a big name fights on Sky Sports or BT Sports, behind a paywall, with many domestic fights also blocked from the casual channel hopping fan. The biggest names are behind a further obstacle, PPV. In Japan the big names are on free TV, with the idea being less about the money now and more about the exposure and longer term stability of the sport.
This past weekend in Japan we saw Pay and Free TV work together, finding a perfect compromise between money and exposure. In fact it seemingly is a compromise that would massively help get eye balls on the sport in the West, without massively harming PPV or subscription numbers, and would likely also make piracy of events less tempting. Especially the "morning after" piracy that seems to be very prevalent.
Let me explain exactly what we saw.
On Sunday morning in Japan WOWOW aired Naoya Inoue's win over Jason Moloney live. This allowed fans with the premium service to watch the bout live with no issues, and enjoy the event, whilst cheering on their boxing hero. The hardcore fans were satisfied, even if they did have their Sunday morning interupted.
If you want to put WOWOW on to the scope of Western TV they are somewhat similar to HBO or Showtime. They broadcast a mix of sport, concerts, movies, anime and dubbed Western TV. For the UK audience there isn't quite a like for like, but given how Sky packages work WOWOW would be like having the on going "Sky TV and Sky Sports offer".
So the live broadcast of Japanese boxing biggest star was shown on a premium channel, to a relatively small audience, with there only being around a few million subscribers.
Then, just 12 hours later, it was shown, during prime time, to a much, much wider audience on terrestrial TV. In fact it averaged over 10.6% in the Kanto region, suggesting multi-million viewership across the country for a bout that, by then, had it's result reported online, and was essentially available to watch via illegal means.
This essentially found the compromise between "premium service" and "people watching", something that seems to be missed in some countries.
It's amazing in the UK that a fighter like Anthony Joshua can get around 1,000,000 buys of a PPV. The reality, however, is that that that's probably as many as he will get given the current Sky Box Office approach. We really don't imagine the market has the flexibility to extend beyond that number, with out attracting new fans to the sport. If you don't let people see the biggest star without paying for the privilege, then who's attracting those new fans?
It feels very much like that UK somewhat corners it's biggest stars away from growing, put them in a walled up garden and doesn't let the public see them. Then it complains about piracy, which has almost certainly increased in recent years with the increase of PPV prices and broadcasts.
If, however, Joshua was on PPV one week, then the bout was given to the BBC or ITV at a reduced cost to show a replay a week or two later, we do wonder what sort of viewing number that bout would get. Would it match the audience share of Inoue in Japan? Also how many opportunities it would open up to new fans, who would then latch on to Joshua in the future, maybe even opening up their wallet to watch him down the line?
Whilst there would, potentially, be fewer people willing to pay for the PPV if it was then going to be made available for free, the special thing about sport is the live experience. And those paying for the PPV almost certainly want the "live" aspect, they are paying for the occasion. Those unable to, or unwilling to, pay for that live experience would likely love to see Joshua but are locked out by the paywall. As a result we don't imagine the PPV revenue would be reduced as much as many may think. If you're paying for the live broadcast you're probably not going to wait a few days to watch it. And what deduction there is in a PPV revenue, would likely be partially offset by the potential for advertisers to have their advertising banners and logos shown on free TV to a nationwide audience, and by future PPV's sales from a man who would be a bigger star afterwards.
It goes against the current idea of how boxing is shown in the UK but, for the sport and it's growth, it needs to be visible to a wider audience. And it's not just fans that we need to be thinking of, but also the stars of tomorrow. They are inspired by the fighters of today and if the fighters of today are fighting hidden behind paywalls the number of future stars seeing them are reduced, giving us a shrinking sport.
Yes you might believe Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren when they tell you British boxing is in great health, and in fairness it is in good health, but it could be a lot better.
Before we finish this we want to talk about a fighter who is much maligned now a days but someone who does go some way towards proving our point.
Audley Harrison, who won an Olympic gold medal for Great Britain, on free TV.
In 1984, 1988 and 1992 Great Britain won 1 Olympic at each games, a bronze. In 1996 it won 0 before Audley Harrison won gold in 2000. In 2004 Amir Khan won Silver. Then we saw British amateur boxing really take off, and in 2008 Britain won 3 medals, more than they'd won in the previous 3 Olympics combined. In 2012 they won 5, including 3 gold medals to top the table, and they took 3 again in 2016.
Harrison's success saw interest in British Amateur boxing pick up, it saw an increase in funding and gave fighters someone to look up to. Without Audley and his success there's a good chance that fighters like James DeGale, Billy Joe Saunders, Joe Joyce, Luke Campbell and Amir Khan wouldn't be where they are today.
We can only imagine the boost that British boxing would get if Joshua, Tyson Fury, and other leading stars had their fights made freely available and gave professional boxing the same rub Audley gave amateur boxing.
Yes it would harm the fighters, promoter and TV channels in the short term, but longer term opening up the broadcasts for a single replay on terrestrial TV would help more fans see the top stars.
*In 2018 there was 1 PPV in Japan, and in 2020 there will also be 1 PPV event in Japan. Neither of these were major fights and were more experimental tests done by one very specific promoter. In neither case did the promoter freeze fans out of big fights or popular stars.
Note - NTV will show their first world title fight in quite some time later this week! That will however be on tape delay following a live broadcast on Pay TV, with G+ and NTV BS showing it live.
Later today we'll see the return of PPV boxing to Showtime as the channel puts on it's first PPV event since boxing was shut down earlier this year due to the on going global situation. On paper the card is a stacked one with 5 world title fights, and it's being marketed as a double-header PPV. On paper it ticks a lot of boxes, but will it be a success of failure? Is it too soon to be back asking, cap in hand, for fans to fund the sport with the almost archaic PPV model? Is the price point right? Have Showtime, and the fighters, judged the feeling of a nation? Have the journalists, who have been highly negative, been able to puncture the sales?
Whilst we can't answer those questions we can certainly attempt to discuss the PPV, and query whether it will be a success or not. And also what the future may bring for PPV if this is a success, or a failure.
Also before we begin, we need to admit this is a bit of a stream of consciousness from our collective minds.
Whats different with this PPV?
There are several things that make this PPV different to a typical PPV in boxing. Firstly it's a deep card, it goes against the tried and tested argument that "no one care about the undercard" by stacking the card, giving it a chance to look more like value than a single main event card with a rather low key, low quality under-card of mismatches. In theory this means the card spreads the load a lot more evenly than a typical PPV.
Typically we see a PPV sold on, and depend on, the main event. This tends to mean the main event is not just the selling factor but the factor the entire card is judged on, both before hand and afterwards.
To sell those PPV's shows tend to focus on a star. Someone like Floyd Mayweather Jr or Manny Pacquiao. Going further back Oscar De La Hoya or Mike Tyson. These were bankable names that would draw casual fan interest. Their bouts were the ones fans tuned in for.
For this one, fans are expected to tune in for depth of the show, not for a single name. There is no out and out bankable star on the card. Some will argue that Charlo twins, as a package, could be deemed bankable, but in reality that's pretty unproven, especially at PPV level. With 5 title bouts the show is looking to promote it's self on depth, at least in theory.
Has this been marketed right?
Interestingly whilst fans are talking about the depth of the show it should be noted that much of the promotional art work, such as online banners have focused on the two Charlo's. It may have been a wiser idea to try to sell the show on all 5 title bouts rather than the twins. Doing so could have made the card look like value to the casual fans, and also helped push the idea that their opponents are dangerous.
If you are reading this, you are a boxing fan. You know that Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Jeison Rosario are good fighters, you do not need to be told that, but if you're a casual fan looking at the art work, it's essentially looking like a show case.
We dare say had the visual creative been a bit smarter we could, potentially, have seen more wider spread fan interest.
Is it a good card?
On paper this looks like one of the cards of the year. It gives us 5 world title bouts, including a 3 title unification bout and one of the best possible match ups at Middleweight.
Looking a little deeper however it's one that the bookies don't have pegged for having a single 50-50 bout on it. From the 6 main bouts the most competitive, with the bookies, is the Middleweight bout between Jermall Charlo and Derevyanchenko. Even that sees the favourite going in at 4/7.
The others bouts see the favourites as clear favourites. Jermell Charlo is 2/9 to beat Jeison Rosario, Luis Nery is 1/20 to beat Aaron Alameda, John Riel Casimero is 1/7 to beat Duke Micah, Daniel Roman is 1/12 to beat Juan Carlos Payano, and Brandon Figueroa is 1/33 to beat Damien Vazquez. They hardly look like compelling 50-50 bouts here.
Also worth noting is that whilst there are 5 world title bouts on the show they lack in terms of distinguished champions. For example John Riel Casimero is making his first defense, Luis Nery Vs Aaron Alameda is for a vacant title, Jermell Charlo and Jeison Rosario are making their first defense, albeit in a triple title unification bout and Brandon Figueroa is making his second defense.
That's not to say the bouts aren't good. We absolute love the look of Jermall Charlo Vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko, and think that could be a FOTY contender, and Jermell Charlo Vs Jeison Rosario gets a thumbs up from us as we love title unifcation bouts. Howevere expect Daniel Roman, Luis Nery, Brandon Figueroa and John Riel Casimero to make light work of their opponents. Though we do expect all 4 bouts to be fun watches, as the 4 big favourites do tend to be fun to watch, and all have a point to prove. For example Daniel Roman was essentially ignored by Eddie Hearn, despite back to back FOTY contenders, and John Riel Casimero wants to make a statement given the situation with Naoya Inoue.
Two great bouts on a card is more than we've come to expect of boxing. And 4, potentially, fun to watch bouts is a real bonus.
Of course we're looking forward, and there is a real chance the in ring action proves to be much better, and more competitive, than we expect.
Is the price high?
The argument is that this is a standard price PPV, which is true, that doesn't mean it's not high. It just means the standard is high. The argument is that people smarter than us have worked out the sweet spot in terms of pricing, and they may be right. This may provide the best income given price and sales. In reality though it's still high, especially given the lack of proving selling power of the Charlo brothers, the relatively unknown status of their opponents, and the fact that the supporting card is at the lower weights.
Also we are not living in standard times. We don't need to explain that there's a gloval issue affecting everyone. That has lead to unemployment increases in the US, and even people in safe jobs will be looking at stretching their budgets more than usual. They could well have gone from thinking $75 is fine the questioning whether it's something they are willing to buy. We've also seen general sports numbers dropping in recent weeks, and that's certainly not a good sign for boxing.
Also we need to consider that PPV parties will not be happening in the same volume as normal. No longer will people be chipping in $15 and taking their booze to watch it together, decreasing the price per viewer. Now it's a case that if you want it, pay for it. A stinger for some, who view sport as escapism and now can't afford it.
We also need to consider UFC, which is set to be shown opposite the Showtime card, is $64.99. A combat sport fan deciding on which they'll pay for will almost certainly go for the cheaper option. Even someone who is more inclined to boxing generally, may end up order UFC to save themselves a bit of change.
In fact ESPN are doing a price bundle for ESPN+ for a year, with UFC253 for $84.98 for new customers. That bundle could really harm the the Showtime numbers, with boxing fans likely now aware ESPN+ is showing regular boxing content.
It's also worth noting that the WWE have their "Clash of Champions" show on Sunday and may also get some fans interested, preferring to spend $10 a month on WWE to $75 on boxing.
What if this is a success?
We suspect the number for a "success" is lower than a typical PPV, but given their competition, the unemployment situation, the price point, and the lack of a bankable star the numbers here could be a rather rather disappointing. And that would be a shame. Honestly it would be a massive shame, and it would, sadly, "prove a point", or rather several.
A low number could back up the argument that no one cares about the under-card. We strongly disagree with this point, but it could be used as evidence that they could have just ran a Charlo twin show, with a garbage under-card and it would have done just as well.
It could also "prove" that boxing is dying, afterall 5 world title fights and the sport can't sell. We can all imagine the grin on Dana White's face if this is a flop.
It would also show that the Charlo brothers, although talented fighters, aren't the bankable stars that some seem to suggest. They are interesting fighters outside of the ring, they tend to be fun inside it, and they rub some people up just enough that they will have some people buying to see them lose, as well as plenty seeing them win and others just wanting to see a fight. But they probably aren't "bankable" enough to lead a PPV.
If this is successful we could see more double header PPV's and split PPV's, which is a nice idea, and hopefully a successful one. After all we get better shows as fans!
Do we expect a success?
Sadly not. We think the in ring action will be great, but we don't see the show doing the numbers that the fighters and broadcaster would be wanting. If we're right it may mean that Showtime take a look at things. They may realise the price point needs a reset during these tough economic times. They can then use that to their advantage going forward, pushing for a $49.99 price, and seeing how that works. If the big complaint is the price, then maybe, just maybe, listen to the fans and find what they deem acceptable.
Even marketing a lower price, say $69.99 or $59.99 may have been a smart idea here given the lack of PPV parties, and the global situation.
How have the media reacted?
Well generally the media have been overly harsh complaining about the price, without really giving the card credit. The card is a good one, even if only two bouts are genuine likely to be competitive, they are two damn good fights!
Also credit needs to be given to Showtime for at least attempting a PPV in this environment, whether that bites them on the ass or not is yet to be seen.
A lot of the media have been dismissive of the card whilst papering over the fact UFC is also on PPV. The truth is that some have almost ignored the fact one is PPV and the other isn't and that isn't fair at all. If they wanted to suggest the pricing of the UFC card in comparison to the boxing at leats that would be consistent.
There also seems to be a wider opinion that the Charlo brothers aren't worthy of interest, and that they have been matched softly and the such. Whether that is true or false is actually irrelevant here, they are taking on legitimately top level opponents here and they should be applauded for that. Likewise their opponents should also be applauded for taking the fights as well.
The show is a good one on paper. We have our doubts that all the bouts will deliver, but even then we are pretty confident of getting 2 really good fights and some fan friendly bouts. It would have been great to see big name writers at least talking about the positives.
Instead we saw one notable writer talk about "Showtime PPV's ridiculous cost" and that it would be "extremely lucky to hit 100,000 buys." In reality the price is high, because the standard PPV price is high, this hasn't been an increase in price.
We don't expect the media to be all positive, we're not and boxing fan in general aren't, but it would be nice to have more balance from the media.
A final word on PPV's
We do feel the PPV market is doomed. It's a market that depends on stars, but boxing in countries with PPV hasn't been developing stars in recent years. It lacks the next face of the sport. We can all see fighters who "could become" the next face, like Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia or Devin Haney, but in reality Haney and Garcia are off fighting on DAZN, in front of a small number of fans, and Davis has lost much of the momentum he once head. Errol Spence Jr and the Charlo's themselves are the wrong side of 30 and won't be able to carry the sport for more than a few years, if they can ever connect with the mainstream.
Boxing needs to appeal to a younger fanbase. Sadly for PPV providers that younger fan base knows several things. They include "knowing how to stream", and knowing the value of their money. They know that for $75 they can have Netflix, Spotify, Disney +, Amazon Prime and Hulu, and still keep some change in their pockets. Unless boxing can click with the younger generation, it will struggle, badly, to create the next Oscar De La Hoya or the next Mike Tyson.
We've seen US fight fans complain about the influx of Eastern European and Central Asian fighters. We've seen US and UK fans complain about the growth of female boxing. The thing is there are much cheaper for promoters than the US fighters. In a world where money is tight, for promoters and fans, cheaper fighters will get more exposure and chances.
With fewer American eye balls on American fighters, the sport will continue to contract in the US. Those putting on PPV's need to realise that they need to give fans a bone every so often, whether that's a reduced price PPV, a free show or some other idea is yet to be seen. The sport needs to be injected with something new and fresh, and the US, as a leader in boxing, and the leader of PPV consumption, needs to take a look at it's self. Realise it is pricing out not just the fans, but also future potential fighters.
There is a place for PPV, but it needs to be used very sparingly for the foreseeable future.
Once again we're back to looking at the Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the week we've just had, and if we're honest the lack of in ring action has left us with not too much good, and quite a lot of indifference, which thankfully isn't a header here!
1 - CBC confirm Kento Hatanaka's next fight will be streamed globally for free!
With the growing number of payment services in boxing, and PPV's again becoming more and more prevalent, it's great to see that CBC are again showing some common sense. The Japanese broadcaster confirmed this past week that the WBC Youth Flyweight title bout between Kento Hatanaka v Roland Jay Biendima will be streamed worldwide for free. The channel have helped make Kosei Tanaka a star, streaming a number of his fights, and seem to know that getting eyes on their product is key to their fighters becoming more notable. They've done it with Tanaka and are now doing it was 21 year old Hatanaka. Well done CBC and fingers crossed others see the logic behind what they do, and try to replicate it for emerging hopefuls.
2 - Junto Nakatani Vs Giemel Magramo, sign us up!
Although not officially confirmed the reports that Junto Nakatani and Giemel Magramo will battle for the WBO Flyweight title was certainly good news. In fact it was really good news! We're expecting the bout to be confirmed next week, following the report from the gondol that the bout was set. This is the sort of match up that the sport needs more of, and the type of bout that we're always going to get very, very excited about! Two young, up and coming fighters, who could go in different directions, clashing head on for a world title! Yes please. This is the type of match up that title vacancy's should be filled by, and the type of bout that instantly gives the new champion some legitimacy, even if the title had previously been vacant!
3 - Ioka Vs Tanaka in the works!
One of the few real good points from this week was the WBO ordering Kazuto Ioka Vs Kosei Tanaka. On one hand it did feel odd that they were ordering back to back mandatory defenses for Ioka, who defended the belt against a mandatory in December, but on the other hand what an amazing match up, and this is something to get really, really excited about for later in the year! It is worth noting that Tanaka didn't seem to be expecting it to be ordered immediately, and neither did we given Ioka's last defense was a mandatory, so we wouldn't be too surprised to see the WBO delay this, as the the teams try to set it up late the last half of the year.
1 - Dubois Vs Joyce on PPV
British fans really are unlucky right now. It seems that over the coming months they are going to be getting shafted by the powers that be. The Fury Vs Wilder rematch was expected to be PPV, and we expect the Joshua Vs Pulev bout to be on PPV, and both of those are legitimately big bouts. However for Daniel Dubois to face Joe Joyce on PPV in an all British clash, between two men who have yet to break through as any type of stars. Genuinely ridiculous for this bout to be on PPV, and a very tough sell given the lack of personality both men have. Don't get us wrong, we are looking forward to the match, but this shouldn't have been on PPV, and it's a missed opportunity for both fighters and for fans.
2 - Naoya Inoue picks up a fever
After taking part in his typical training camp in Guam Naoya Inoue had to miss the annual Japanese boxing award ceremony last week due to fever. The fever is said to have been brought on by muscle fatigue, and it's a real shame. Not only did he have to miss the award ceremony but also take days out of training. On the other hand it has given the John Riel Casimero camp some more ammunition to help sell the fight, and credit goes to Casimero and Sean Gibbons for their entertaining press conferences this week.
3 - Korean boxing Hiatus
Earlier in the year we had several events in China being cancelled due to Coronavirus and now, due to the spread of the illness, we've seen a number of Korean events falling victim, with 3 planned shows being postponed indefinitely. That included the much anticipated Hyun Mi Choi Vs Maiva Hamadouche female unification bout. Whilst we totally agree with the shows being cancelled, it's still a big disappointment.
1 - Jarrell Miller's comments
Our thoughts about drugs cheats are that they need to be punished. They need to be given lengthy bans, prohibited from profiting from the sport, and made to actually feel like they've been punished. The entire system in boxing right now however seems to be the opposite, and seems to be more like a toddler being told to sit in the corner for 5 minutes. That is...unless you're Jarrell Miller. Less than a year ago Miller was found guilty of, essentially, being a cocktail of banned substances. This week he came out with a pro-drug message in what was a rather clear "fuck you" to the sport, and the others taking part:
“Minor setback for a major comeback. I’m coming for everything and everyone. No one is safe. Say hello to the bad guy,” ...“Everyone wants to portray the superhero. We don’t live in a sunshine world. I’ll never be the superhero. In my world, the majority of the time, the villain wins.”
He's not just showing no remorse for failing multiple drug tests, but is using it as part of the marketing for his return and showing contempt of the sport he's participating in. Fuck him and fuck the commissions that go on to license him. We need this sort of thing to end.
2 - Eddie Hearn admits he doesn't want to match his guys
After telling us for years that "to fight X you need to sign with us" and after telling us for months that he was trying to match some of his guys, Eddie Hearn this week came out and admitted that he wants to cheer on one guy in a fight rather than two. Given the wealth of talent Matchroom have at Middleweight, Super Middleweight and Heavyweight this has really left a sour taste, especially when he's previously blamed the fighters. Given he has fingers in the purses of fighters like Gennady Golovkin, Demetrius Andrade, Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders, at 160lbs and 168lbs, and Heavyweights like Michael Hunter, Filip Hrgovic, Joseph Parker, Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora there are great match ups to be made, in those divisions. What doesn't help is he then comes out and explains that certain men are divisional "boogeymen", as he did with with Michael Hunter this week. If you have most of the top names in the division and choose not to match them, they aren't boogeymen, they are just being badly handled!
3-Guillermo Rigondeaux's Career Sabotage continues
Generally we expect the most talented people in the field to be the best, make the most money and develop their reputation to a point where people want to see them show what they can do. For Guillermo Rigondeaux however we once again saw the Cuban's knack of messing things up for himself shine. "El Chacal" finally fought at his natural weight this weekend, dropping to Bantamweight at the age of 39, but once again stunk the joint out, and once again showed why HBO refused to touch him with a barge pole. Unfortunately however this time it was on Showtime, who are also now unlikely to work with him. Loud boos filled the arena for his fight against former Super Flyweight champion Liborio Solis. What didn't help Rigondeaux was that he hurt Solis several times, but refused to go for the finish, particularly in the later rounds when it was clear Solis couldn't bother him. From siding with Carbie when he Gary Hyde had something organised, to shitting the bed on HBO against Joseph Agebko to his string of B tier wins over the likes of James Dickens, Rigondeaux has made himself unwatchable in a sport that is dependent on fans and TV audience. He might be among the most gifted natural athletes in the sport, but also one of the stupidest. His ring IQ might be incredible, but his inability to see the bigger picture, really shows a complete lack of business smarts and once again he's going to find himself totally frozen out by TV and big fighters. We know the purists might enjoy his style, but unfortunately for the Cuban they aren't the people in charge of the TV companies, or the ones that the fighter needs to impress. They are a small minority, and even they seem to be realising what a truly disappointing under-achiever Rigondeaux is.
(Image of Rigondeaux Vs Solis courtesy of Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME)
On Friday, after weeks of chatter and rumour, we finally saw the announcement of the all-English Heavyweight clash between Daniel Dubois (14-0, 13) and Joe Joyce (10-0, 9). An excellent match up, I'm sure we can all agree. But the bout came with a nasty caveat for those in the UK wanting to watch it. It would be on PPV.
For fans in the US, UK, Australia and Poland PPV is part and parcel of watching boxing. At least watching the big bouts. The problem that in the UK, at least, PPV is no longer used for big bouts. It's no longer used for events that are to be viewed as special occasions, super fights, monster fights. Instead they are being used for what are essentially British level, or European level fights. Even competitive and good fights at British level.
The more annoying issue isn't necessarily that PPV is being used, it's how it's being used.
Dubois Vs Joyce should be used as a platform. The bout should be shown to as many people as possible, not just the dedicated hardcore fan based, and allow the winner to vault themselves into the public view. Unfortunately neither man has any personality, neither man is going to talk themselves into a payday, or get fans behind them on the back of their charisma, or rather lack of. They need their in ring performances to speak for them and a big win against a fellow unbeaten Brit in could be the leaping off pad that could capture the attention of the public. At least it could if it wasn't hidden behind a paywall, like it will be.
Of course this isn't the first time an all-British fight has been the selling point of a PPV. We've had things like Anthony Joshua vs Dillian Whyte on PPV in 2015, and whilst both have had successful careers, we can't but feel it was a case of both men fighting on PPV too early. This might seem stupid, given how both men have been since, but it's seems to have made Whyte feel entitled to be paid PPV money, causing issues in making bouts, and would almost certainly have been high profile to have been on Sky Sports.
So what the fuck has all this got to do with Asian boxing?
We mentioned a number of countries have PPV, whilst the Philippines has used it at times that seems to have vanished in recent years. Japan essentially doesn't have it, only a single show in the last 2 years has been on PPV, Thailand doesn't have it, China doesn't have it, Russia doesn't have it. The top domestic fighters, who face off, do so without the need for PPV. The recently ordered showdown between Kazuto Ioka and Kosei Tanaka, when it takes place, will be a world title fight and even that won't be on PPV, instead being on free to air TV.
Yes the cultures between the countries are massively different, but one of those countries is able to draw multi-million viewing figures. BT Sport, in the UK has fewer subscribers than tune in to a typical Japanese world title fight. Only a fraction of those BT numbers will watch on Box Office.
Rather than growing the profile of the two men, putting the bout on BT Sport and letting the fans tune in to a high anticipated all English clash, the decision has been to put the fight in front of the smallest possible viewing audience. This will put the loser of the bout in an awful position, losing in front of a small audience, with a "1" in the L column of their record, and given their lack of personality, could essentially destroy their longer term potential and ability to bounce back. The winner will also expect PPV type money going forward, and unfortunately that means will end up struggling to see them again on BT Sport...at least until they lose.
Both Joyce and Dubois have the potential to mix it at world level. And credit to them for facing off here. It's a shame the profile of the bout will be so small, as the ugly face of PPV is showing it's self again here.
PPV should be used sparingly, it should be used for super events, and not just when the promoter and broadcaster feel the need to fleece the fans. It's been this behaviour that has damaged the fanbase of the sport and continues to cause resentment between factions of fans.
On the subject of fans, can we just end this by asking you all to get on the same page on one thing and hold all promoters accountable for their bullshit? Stop the inconsistency and favouritsm to your preferred promoter and hold them all to the same levels please! Be it Frank Warren, Eddie Hearn, Bob Arum, Golden Boy or anyone else hold them responsible for their shows, their match ups, their promotional strategies. It would help the sport improve if we could all get on the same page there!
Recently Sky Sports in the UK announced the price of their PPV for the upcoming rematch between Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua, with the higher than typical price tag of £24.95. Whilst it appears to be a clear money grab by Sky Sports and promoter Eddie Hearn it did make us think about value in boxing, and how, by shopping around, you can get real value to follow the sport.
We have been long term users of iSakura, a service that provides Japanese TV streaming to a wider audience. Not only does the service offer live streaming but also allows a 14 day catch up window, making it a great service to use to watch things you might have missed due to typical every day life events, for example your job.
When we saw the price of the Joshua Vs Ruiz fight we went to have a look to see what Japanese service it was on, whether it was DAZN in Japan or WOWOW, and whether or not it was live. As it turned out it was being shown live on WOWOW, which is available through Isakura pro.
For just over £24, at the current conversion of £ to $, you can get 1 month of isakura TV pro. As long as the £ to $ exchange rate doesn't change too much come December 1st it's a no brainer as to where to put your money. Rather than giving it to the greedy, self serving people at Sky you can give it to the wonderful people at isakura and get a lot, lot more than just the 1 off Ruiz Vs Joshua bout.
If you ordered 1 month of isakura TV pro on December 1st you'd get get access to live coverage of:
December 7th show from Korakuen Hall (Noynay Vs Ogawa, Sueyoshi vs Saka)
December 8th show from Saudi Arabia (Ruiz Vs Joshua II)
December 15th show from New York (Crawford Vs Kavaliauskas)
December 22nd show from Korakuen Hall (All Japan Rookie of the Year)
December 23rd show (Murata Vs Butler, Yaegashi Vs Mthalane)
December 31st show (Ioka Vs Cintron, Tanaka VsTuolehazi)
As well as tape delay coverage of:
West Japan Rookie of the Year Final bouts (you'd have to use the catch up service and go to November 26th for this)
December 12th Diamond Glove
Whilst the international shows will only feature the main events, for many that is all they are interested in, and although the commentary is in Japanese for most of us boxing commentary is terrible, so not understanding it doesn't take anything away from the experience. Also as many know Japanese commentary is wonderful excitable, and can add to quality of a fight.
If you are a fight fan this December treat yourself, give iSakura a shot with the 96 channel version here http://www.isakuraiptv.com/recharge and make it clear the greedy men behind the over priced PPV that you are sick of what they are doing. You sick of them over charging and under-delivering and want to watch more of the sport. With some much content coming from Japan through iSakura in December this is worth considering even if you do plan paying for Sky Box Office, and really quality streams of Japanese channels are hard to come by, especially for G+ who will have the Rookie of the Year.
The service is available for android, windows, ios and can be put on to certain TV sticks, including an Amazon fire, allowing you to watch on TV, phone or computer, making it a very versatile service for fans at home or on the go.
(Please note - Asianboxing.info is not affiliated with isakura, the link is not an affiliate link and we receive no financial incentive, this is purely to try and help fans realise what they can get for the price of the Box Office PPV through the isakura service)
The last 7 days has been relatively quiet in Asian boxing, though that doesn't mean we've not found some things that were good, bad and ugly....even if we did need to look a little further afield than usual for one of our ugly's this week!
1-Iwasa Vs Tapales is official!
This wasn't a particularly big surprise, given it has been rumoured for a while and had been all but set, but it was still nice to see an official announcement being made this week by the Celes Gym to confirmed the IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight title fight between Ryosuke Iwasa and Marlon Tapales. We are really excited about this one and think that the styles of the two men will make for something a little bit special
2-Hasanboy Dusmatov's debut
After weeks of frustration, rumours, speculation, and changes, we finally saw 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Hasanboy Dusmatov make his professional debut. The talented Uzbek stopped Jesus Cervantes Villanueva in 2 rounds on Saturday night in Mexico and he is now off the board with a win. The performance was a long way from flawless, but there was a lot to like and we're really excited to see where he can go in the pros, and how quickly he'll get there. He's a genuine talent, but given how frustrating it was to see him make his debut there has got to be some worries that his career will be a very frustrating one to follow.
It felt like a throw back weekend with a rare Indonesian televised show on RCTI. It feels like it has been far, far too long since Chris John was in action and there was a real reason to watch a show from Indonesia but this week was had one thanks to Ongen Saknosiwi and Daud Yordan. The bouts weren't the best, but they were both fan friendly and easy to watch. They showcased the biggest name in Indonesian boxing, and one of the rising stars and the match ups were both compelling from a stylistic point of view. This was great for Indonesian boxing, and fingers crossed RCTI do began to show case more boxing from Indonesia. The country has talent, but their boxing scene needs investment, money and effort.
Whilst we have just praised RCTI we also need to complain about them. They showed the entirety of Daud Yordan fight with Michael Mokoena live, but they missed the first 6 rounds of the co-feature. It would have made so much sense to have broadcast every round of Ongen Saknosiwi's bout with Marco Demecillo. Yordan is the star of Indonesian boxing, still, but the need for the new generation is there and they could have helped promote Saknosiwi here had they shown his entire bout. The 6 rounds we got were great, but it feels like a genuine mis-step by the broadcaster who could have shown all 12.
1- Sky Sports Box Office price for Ruiz Vs Joshua II
Not an Asian boxing issue as such, but an ugly issue for boxing in general is the abuse British fight fans are getting at the hands of Sky Sports Boxing office. The service announced that rematch between Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua will cost £24.95. That's higher than an average Sky Sports Box Office show, and suggests the bout really is all about money. The bout has been widely criticised for where it's taking place, in Saudi Arabia, and with an increase in PPV money along side a monster site fee it really does leave a bitter taste in the mouth. Things like this push some people away from the sport, and others to illegal streams. A terrible move by all involved, who appear to want another pound of flesh from boxing fans.
2-Masashi Noguchi's continued losing run
One of the feel good stories of the week was Takuya Yamaguchi picking up his 4th win in 17 fights. We love Yamaguchi and the way he has continued to fight on despite set backs, making up for his limitations. Sadly though this weeks win for Yamaguchi came against a man who is now more than 3 years removed from a win and has now lost 7 in a row. That is Masashi Noguchi, who challenged for the Japanese Lightweight title in December 2016, losing to Shuhei Tsuchiya, and has suffered 6 straight losses since. There now, surely, needs to be someone in his team telling him to hang them up before he gets hurt.
(Image courtesy of Olamsport, Matchroom Sport)
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