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.
When we began this site the main aim was to try and help make boxing from Asia more accessible to fight fans in the West. It was an honest aim and was one we knew was unlikely to be easy, or a success. Back then we didn't have things like Isakura and BoxingRaise and the biggest hopes for streaming bouts were dodgy third part sites often delivered a less than great quality of video.
Since we launched this site however things have changed massively. Isakura has been a god send for those wanting to watch televised Japanese boxing and BoxingRaise has opened up a world of domestic Japanese domestic action to international fans. However both of those services do cost, and asking fans to fork out to watch boxing during these current times is a rather big ask, especially given the PPV prices in both the US and UK.
For those who can afford them, those services are great, but we understand cost is a barrier to watching boxing. That's a barrier that exists world wide with services like PPV, Sky Sports, DAZN and ESPN+.
Right now we understand fight fans wanting to cut costs, and with that in mind we want to make everyone aware that this is actually the perfect time to begin showing an interest in Japanese boxing.
The reason that this is such a perfect time is the fact that we are set to get a spate of live, legal, free streams on YouTube.
Yes this is a chance to watch some Japanese boxing for free. No catches, no BS, no subscription, no PPV. This is free, and there are no strings.
Price, and issues with streaming have always been a barrier for Japanese boxing, along with the being unsure where and how to watch, but here we are getting streams from promoters, a TV channel and a fighter in one particular case. What all these have in common is trying to make the sport more accessible, and available to all.
Between September 26th and November 23rd we'll be getting 5 live, free, internationally open, streams from Japan showing a bit of everything. We have top prospects, fantastic domestic bouts, a female world title bout and a men's world title bout. Most importantly they don't all come from the same promoter, organiser or channel, and instead we have a number of promoters getting behind the idea of boxing being shown for free and funded by advertising and crowd funding whilst using free streams to help grow the sport, and the fan base.
For those wanting to make the most of this opportunity to watch some live Japanese boxing we have included the shows below, with these all set to be streamed live.
September 26th-Kobe Central Gym, Japan (Boxing Real)
Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) Vs Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1) - WBO Atomweight title bout
Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) Vs Takashi Igarashi (13-4, 5)
Kohei Oba (36-3-1, 14) Vs Yoshiki Minato (8-3, 3)
September 27th-Fujisan Messe, Japan (Suruga Boys)
Tsubasa Murachi (4-1, 3) Vs Ryotaro Kawabata (12-3-2, 6)
Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1) Vs Takafumi Iwaya (4-3)
Koichi Aso (23-9-1, 15) Vs Shogo Yamaguchi (12-5-3, 7)
October 13th-Korakuen Hall, Japan (A Sign)
Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) Vs Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6)
Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) Vs Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6)
Kai Ishizawa (6-1, 6) Vs Masashi Tada (13-7-3, 8)
November 3rd - INTEX, Osaka, Japan (Hiroto Kyoguchi YouTube Channel)
Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) Vs Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12)
November 23rd - Bunka Center, Sanda, Japan (TV Osaka)
Riku Kano (16-4-1, 8) Vs Ryoki Hirai (13-6-1, 4) - WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title bout
Sho Ishida (28-2, 15) Vs Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2)
Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) Vs Reiya Konishi (17-1, 7)
Whilst these might not be super massive stacked cards with international title they are legal, free, streams of boxing. In sport dominated by promoters wanting you to fork out it might be worth giving consideration to some of the free content out there, supporting the sport and watching something new.
The only issue these can't resolve is the time differential. Sadly these shows are all aimed at a Japanese audience in regards to time, so will be early morning to mid-day in the UK and Europe and will be very early morning in the US. If you're stuck at home however these are seriously worth a shot, and it's maybe a time you enjoyed some free boxing, and gave live Japanese boxing a shot!
This past week we've seen a lot of announcements regarding fighters, including confirmation of bouts for the likes of Naoya Inoue, Vasyl Lomachenko, Hiroto Kyoguchi, and Daigo Higa. Sadly however the big talking point hasn't been these fighters. Instead it's been the on going saga between Saul Canelo Alvarez, DAZN and Golden Boy Promotions. A saga that went legal this week with Canelo filing a suit against his broadcaster partner and promoter.
We're not too interested in the legal side of things as such, though we are concerned in seeing how it plays out and how long it will essentially prevent the face of boxing from being in the ring.
We are, however, interested in concept that boxing could ever have been the focal point for a global streaming service, and that it could ever have funded the boxing contracts it was signing up for.
The three big boxing contracts, that have been widely reported, that DAZN have are the Canelo contract, at $365m over 11 fights and 5 years, the Golovkin contract, at $100m over 6 fights and 3 years, and the $1b deal with Matchroom, which was to be spread over 8 years.
Of course it's not as easy as to just blurt figures out, but, for ease of maths, that works out at close to $200m a year on boxing content. And that ignores other boxing deals the service has, for example it's broadcasting of WBSS and WP Boxing events. They may have come much, much cheaper, but together we are looking at an incredible amount being spent on Boxing.
To spearhead a service, like DAZN, on Boxing content seemed a stupid decision at the time. And has proven to be a rather questionable one still, on reflection. Of course the service would have loved to have launched with a league behind it, like they did with the J League in Japan, but those major US league rights were tied up, and boxing was one of the few sports fragmented enough for the service to get into.
With that in mind what they really needed was a smart boxing mind to head the US boxing content. They needed someone who knew the business side of boxing, knew how the sport worked, and the unique, often frustrating, issues with boxing and boxing broadcasting. They needed someone like Ross Greenburg overseeing things, including contracts, promotional deals and other things unique to boxing. Someone who understood the sport, and the nightmare it can be. Instead they went in with the idea of being a disruptor of the industry, going their own way, and throwing money at something in the hope that it would attract the boxing fan base over to the service. And someone who wasn't directly linked to a promotional outfit. They needed someone to be above that level of politics.
One of the first mistakes that they appeared to have made is assuming boxing is like other sports. It's not. Boxing is it's own weird, annoying, frustrating entity. If you're reading this we suspect your relationship with the sport is much like ours. You love it, you hate it, you're indifferent to it, you're angry about it, then you love it again.
Bouts we want aren't made at the right time, people avoid each other and do too much of their fighting on social media, promoters try to steal the attention of the fighters and we get too many meaningless matches. We have too many options for fighters wanting to take a different route to a world title and we have other countless problems. Unlike the UFC, where most of the top fighters are under one banner, or a league system like the NFL, we don't have any idea when the best in boxing will face off, there is no reason them to fight, and we can't, for certain, say they ever will.
Boxing is also a sport that tends to use limited dates, between 1 and 3 a week, not nearly enough to keep fans tuning in and coming back, like a league that will have games on 3 or 4 nights a week. Typically it's a Saturday night sport, and as a result looking for people to subscribe for potentially 5 nights of entertainment a month is somewhat a tricky task.
DAZN needed someone who knew that, in charge.
With someone like that in charge they would likely have gotten clear contracts that made it very obvious what they expected from their partners, Matchroom Sports, Canelo and GGG and how they intended to get there. They wouldn't have made a big song and dance about the money they were spending, and how big the contracts are, as that doesn't help them and makes things harder.
If you know Matchroom Sports have $125m to spend in a year, and they come to you for a fight or multi-fight deal, you bet you're gonna try and get extra from that money. If you know Canelo has $40m to spend on a fight, with $35m going to him, you're going to try and get a nibble at his money. Knowing these figures mean that when Eddie Hearn tried to lure people over they knew what he had in his war chest, and also likely knew what they could get from Al Haymon and Bob Arum.
The plan of Matchroom to get big American Stars completely failed. He went after Adrien Broner, the Charlo's and Deontay Wilder, and instead landed himself fighters like Tevin Farmer and Demetrius Andrade. The plan to throw money at the problem, figuratively and literally, didn't work. He failed to secure the stars he needed to make a mark on the US scene. Lets just be totally honest, the fan bases of Tevin Farmer and Demetrius Andrade aren't ever going to change the fortunes of a Pay Service, like DAZN.
One of the issues that neutralised the money aspect for some fighters was the lack of exposure. A fight on a new platform like DAZN didn't have the strong presence of a show on ESPN, Fox or Showtime. Even linking DAZN bouts to a potential exposure deal in the UK, on Sky Sports, and across the global DAZN platform still doesn't give a huge amount of exposure. A fighter with a big name typically wants to be seen, they to feel famous, and that wasn't really possible on this new platform, with a tiny fan base.
This was the other big problem with DAZN USA being spearheaded by boxing. It lacked the right market place for the sport.
The idea was simple. "These customers paying for PPV fights get better value here paying $10 a month as opposed to $80 for a PPV". They were right. No argument at all, they are right. It is better value, by a country mile. But that's not how things always work.
In 2016 a study by the Magna Global for SportsBusiness Journal found the average age of boxing fans watching the sport on TV was 49, going up from 47 a decade earlier, and 45 years in 2000. That's an old, ageing audience, which is probably now in their 50's.
That audience is a TV audience that has grown up with the sport, followed it and are used to seeing it on TV. A medium they are familiar with. DAZN on the other hand is the new, hip, youth friendly service aimed at streamers. The new generation. That isn't a generation that is typically following boxing. Whilst they may get better value on DAZN they typically aren't big fans of the sport.
We'll admit the Magna Global study is logically flawed. It looks at TV viewers, and sports definitely have a large online streaming audience which aren't accounted for in that study. However that streaming audience are, essentially, not paying to watch things. They are the ones who know where to look to see what they want.
Add all that into the fact DAZN, as a brand, isn't a strong brand, despite what they might think, and they were always going to struggle for market penetration.
They seemingly saw their competition as being sports content providers, and TV networks. For us the rival for DAZN was never the TV and sports channels, it was the streaming services, the Netflix's and the Amazon Prime's. The $20 a month luxury for entertainment. Yes it was cheap, yes it was new, but it was still an online entertainment service, and at the end of the day that was their competition with the same sort of market, the generation X and millennials.
Essentially they were over-paying fighters, making it clear there was a lot of money was in the coffers, didn't understand the intricacies of boxing, and were aimed at the wrong demographic for their service.
They may have seen themselves as a disruptor but the reality is they were trying to interrupt a market that simply wasn't there in the way they thought it was and those that wanted to watch for free knew how to. They were incredibly naive to the sport they were getting themselves involved in.
The long term plan was obviously to tie fighters into long term global contracts, and then launch world wide, at some point. That was the long game, and one where boxing could indeed play a major role. After all it is one of the most global sports. Fighters from around the globe compete against each other and it's a notable sport in places currently without DAZN, like the UK, Mexico, Philippines and Thailand. There was potential for those large contracts to pay off.
That however seemed to be a longer term plan and by the time it seemed ready to come we were already multiple fights into the GGG and Canelo deals, and of course had a global Pandemic. It also ignores the fact that certain global countries may not have the Internet infrastructure needed to provide the service properly.
The 18 or so months that the US market had the service before launching globally almost certainly cost them here. There was no point having global rights but only being able to use them in for 5 or 6 territories. They could sell the rights, sure, but tying people into their service was the key, and was a missed opportunity.
When we look back over DAZN it was mistake after mistake. It was issue after issue. It was bad decision after bad decision.
It was a great idea for boxing fans, but was ran the wrong way around. It was ran with too many loss leaders as the selling points, it's was sold to the wrong audience, it was sold in the wrong way and it wasn't sold to a wider enough fan base. The smarter plan would have been to buy up content, link up with multiple promoters, and tell them to play nice, and tell them to keep their financial dealings quiet. Don't brag about how much you can blow, that will only drive up the price.
Had they gone and opened the doors to multiple smaller promoters on a global basis, managed to secure regular content, had 3 or 4 nights a week with action, even at a smaller level, it would have attracted fans, it would have sold the long term potential, it would have been far cheaper for DAZN themselves, and it would have allowed them to build a core fan base, before throwing open the purse strings. It wouldn't have made a huge splash, but it would have given them a foundation to build the sport, to build their audience, to build their future stars, and to get the bigger stars at the right time.
The SportsBusiness Journal report:
Earlier I mentioned the J-League contract DAZN signed way back when the service launched in Japan. That saw them paying almost $2b for a 10 year deal with the J-League. That works at around $200m a year, for around 300 matches a year, spread over a most of the year. That deal, in recent weeks, has been extended but with a drop in annual cost of 11.1% and maybe that needs to be something boxing needs to look at going forward. It was also a deal that provided 10 months of action and kept subscribers subscribed, rather than having them drop in and out a few times a year, like the boxing lead model did, with people only subscribing when big fights were on.
Back in January, my god that seems a long time ago now, I spoke about drugs in boxing as part of this series. Back then failed test results for Yves Ngabu and Alejandra Jimenez were the news, along with a story that really disappointed us. Top Rank had signed Jarrell Miller.
Whilst January feels like a long time ago that was it was only 6 months ago.
That wasn't my first rant on drugs. Just a month earlier I had spoke about the "Clash on the Dunes" which featured 4 fighters who had tested positive for banned substances, with those being Alexander Povetkin, Dillian Whyte, Mariusz Wach and Eric Molina.
In the last week or saw we saw Jarrell Miller fail another drug test. Giving him another strike, and giving the sport of boxing one more black eye. Rather than holding his hands up, owning the situation, taking responsibility and acting like someone who has now been caught cheating on 3 totally separate occasions Miller has claimed innocence. He has stated he has never "willingly" taken banned substances... as if someone was making him take it I guess!
For those curious Miller was first caught in 2014, using a banned stimulant for a bout in a GLORY Kick boxing show. That was something he was given a 9 month ban for, effective from August 1st 2014 by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC)*. The argument we've seen some have is that it's a different sport and shouldn't be held again, and we'll come back to that in a moment first we need to point something out.
In the 9 months that followed August 1st 2014 Miller fought, as a boxer, fought 3 times, with the first of those coming in November 2014. Not only that but one of the bouts took place in California, in the state where he was supposedly fucking banned! Unless California's ban ONLY means he can't fight in kick boxing, which will be stupid as we're about to explain, then how was this actually allowed? Surely someone at the CSAC knew he was suspended and turned a blind eye, or their ban was so limited to only cover Kick boxing, making him free to go on his way with any other professional sporting endeavour.
What should be noted is that Miller made his professional boxing debut in 2009, he was an active boxer in 2014. His positive test at the GLORY event was in June 2014. That was just a month after he beat Joshua Harris in a boxing event. He wasn't a one code athlete dabbling in another sport, or about to change sports, but was a dual sport competitor and had been for years. So whilst he did fail a test at a GLORY event, are we to assume that he was being tested at small level boxing events? Are we, especially knowing what we now know, to assume he was completely clean in boxing until 2019, when he just so happened to be given a strict drug testing regime and failed a test?
Surely, in any workable system of a state athletic body issuing a suspension, that would be for all sport in their State? Especially given that it's the commission handing out the ban, not the sporting authority. For example it was CSAC not or organisation like the PDC in darts or FIFA in soccer.
It's also worth noting that some countries actually have real liability on a test. In the UK one fighter tested positive for what was seen as a trace amount of cocaine and has been given a 4 year ban. The positive test for cocaine, which is said to have been on money handled by the fighter and was presumable a case of dermal absorption, has ended that fighters career. Yet Miller has failed in 2014 and 2019 and now again in 2020.
Back in December I didn't call for bans or suspensions, or ineligibility rules on drug testing in boxing. We've seen they are pointless. Ryan Martin is banned for 4 years in the UK but fought just a few days ago in the US, less than half way into that suspension. I stand by that. Suspensions in boxing are totally unworkable due to the wild west nature of the sport. If a fighter tested positive and was banned by, say, UKAD, they could go off to Mexico or Thailand or the US and rack up their record for the duration of that ban, and work their way into big fights.
They are totally toothless.
We also don't see the point of the ranking bodies having any power in this area either. We've seen them turn a blind eye as and when they want, to their own rules. Heck the WBO essentially had to strip Billy Joe Saunders of their Middleweight title due to a drug test but then let him fight for a world title a weight class higher, just 2 fights later. The WBC essentially helped David Benavidez through his cocaine problem, and we know what UKAD would have done there!
Instead, as we did in December, we call on promoters to freeze out fighters. Without the chance to get a fight fighters will think twice, they will realise the actions of the cheats isn't worth it. No more big paydays, no more big opportunities, no more letting them headline PPV's or feature on big cards.
Originally we suggested that promoters should sign an agreement to note work with drug cheats. This time however we're going one step further and not only suggesting a code of conduct for promoters on using proven drug cheats, but also having their licenses stripped by the regional and national bodies for using them after they have tested positive.
We know some fighters will cheat if they have a reason to, which is getting ahead and the potential of bigger pay days. We know that because it's happened. Repeatedly. So to stamp that out promoters need to agree to not work with them, and know that if they do they are out of the sport. We don't let establishments that break regulations, such as pubs staying open beyond their allowed hours, keep licenses, so we shouldn't let promoters who are irresponsible keep theirs either.
For sake of clarity this rule would only apply to fighters who have previously tested. Testing on a show, with no previous black mark against a fighter, will not see a promoter stripped.
Of course we know promoters lack scruples, and it can be in their interests to protect fighters. So if we share the onus between the fighters, the promoters and the commissions to chase drug cheats out of our sport we might, finally, get rid of the cheats.
We also know, at the end of the day, no one in the sport really cares as long as they can make money off the fighter in question. Once again, boxing shows it's self shoot it's own foot. Complaining about an issue it enables. Maybe we, as fans, are the only ones who care, and even then we'll be paying for PPV's featuring fighters who have failed tests soon enough.
*Note - We have reached out to clarify with CSAC on how ineligibility works and whether it is for one sport or multiple codes within their state and will update this article if they reply.
Over the last couple of weeks we have seen Top Rank become the first US promoter to step up to the plate and offer some boxing. Sadly the shows have failed, massively, to connect with the general populace and the ratings are, if we're being honest, pathetic. Especially given the fact there is no other live sport on to compete with boxing.
Whilst we can all understand their being no big bouts on at the moment, with reduced money in the sport, lower TV, no fans, and lower advertising revenue, we do need to question whether there are things promoters can do to make people care more about the fights than they currently are.
One of the problems with boxing is the story telling aspect of the sport.
We often get given a story about the rising hopeful and their hard life. It's something to make us feel a connection to one of the fighters and sell them to us. Sadly however that paints a story that attempts to make us feel sympathetic to the massive favourite rather than telling us a story to paint the fight. Boxing is, for all intents, the only sport where the story of the favourite is the only story given to a neutral fan. The fan is meant to buy in to the event, not just one participant fighter, before the fight. Instead the marketing for boxing is very much about buying into the house fighter, the big favourite.
Just imagine, if you can, a sports channel trying to sell you a match up between Liverpool and San Jose Earthquakes, or the Kansas City Chiefs and the Toronto Argonauts...and then tried to make you feel sympathy for the bigger team.
If ESPN is going to run stories about one of the fighters, during their live broadcast, they should look to run stories on both fighters. Get the casual and neutrals to buy in to both men, rather than continue the narrative that is currently being pushed. Afte all who wants to see a bout between "this future superstar you're telling me is amazing and this other fella who you've told me nothing about". That however can be tricky and really quite awkward, taking up more of the broadcast than it needs to.
Another option, an option we see working well in Asia, is tournament boxing. Give the fans a reason to buy in and to follow a story they can see being weaved in front of their faces, over a number of months. This not only leads to short term story telling that the fans can see being told but, when the sport can resumes normal service, their will be a fighter at the end of it with a lot of extra added value.
Recently we saw Clay Collard pick up his latest upset win, beating David Kaminsky. If their 6 rounder, along with 7 other bouts spread over the next few weeks, was part of a 16 man tournament over the next 6 to 12 months fans would begin buying in early and want to follow their man through out. The eventual winner would then have fans for the sports return.
With the bouts on these shows, for the most part, being 4 and 6 rounders a fighter could, in theory, fight 3 or 4 times between now and the end of the year. Heck Collard's fight was his 4th since November, and if fans keep seeing the same names winning they will begin to care.
For us tournaments are also an easy sell to fans and something boxing, in the west, doesn't have enough of. In the East they are done regularly, with things like Rookie of the Year, the B Class tournaments and the recent KO Dynamite, God's Left Bantamweight and Hajime No Ippo 20th anniversary tournaments in Japan.
It's not just Japan however and Korea has it's own Rookie of the Year tournaments, Thailand had a brilliant little tournament last year dubbed "The Fighter", which has helped launch 16 year old Phoobadin Yoohanngoh into a regional title fight, and China hosts Major League Boxing and the Silk Road tournaments.
Of course the WBSS and the World Boxing Super Series have both helped launch careers internationally, proving their is interest in tournaments at the highest level in the west. Our guess is that interest will also work lower down the sports levels.
It's clear that the current format doesn't work, the only people really tuning in are hardcore fans, so why not take the opportunity to try something different, give the lesser fighters a reason to fight and give fans a reason to care.
By all means keep the "co-feature, under-card bouts, feature" running order, which is something I'll admit I'm a fan of, but make those under-card bouts matter. Put those bouts as preliminary bouts to a tournament, market the tournament, rather than the fighters, and make people care about getting into the story at the beginning rather than in middle, or the end.
It's clearer now, more than ever, that Top Rank doesn't have the star power among their prospects to carry the number of shows they are planning. and it feels like they missed a trick here.
Whilst it seems unlikely Top Rank will run with a longer form tournament, especially with all the issues that boxing has, a short format, either an 8 man 1-night tournament such as "Prizefighter" in the UK, or a 4 man knockout tournament, could still work and could have helped the sport capture the attention of fans when they needed them tuning in.
Whilst I'm on a bit of a rant I also can't help but feel the whole ESPN broadcast needs a shake up. Timothy Bradley and Andre Ward have been awful, so bad they've been making Joe Tessitore look fantastic. It would be nice to hear only one of the two former fighters, working as part of a 2-person booth. What Chris Algieri and Crystina Poncher are doing for the international broadcasts is fantastic, they sound like a coherent unit, not always agreeing but coherent. The current ESPN set up is a mess of in fight narratives and too many voices. It needs streamlining, and people need to just calm it will make the whole thing a lot, lot easier to watch.
We also need to see the judging pick up. We can understand a bit of rustiness but some of the scoring has been truly atrocious. Patricia Morse Jarman having Kaminsky beating Collard, Dave Moretti having Joshua Greer Jr level with Mike Plania and Eric Cheek splitting Cameron Krael and Bobirzhan Mominov by a single point. Come on folks sort that out, there isn't enough fights for you folk to ruin the results!
In the coming months we are set to see boxing resume under a full fledged "new normal". We have seen shows taking place recently, but they have all been rather small, low key affairs, with few of them having on any sort of world level action. We'll admit we have really enjoyed some of the bouts, and credit to Top Rank for giving some little known fighters some TV exposure, but they haven't yet been "big bouts" or "big names" in action. Shakur Stevenson is probably the most notable fighter to fight so far, and that was in a knock over job against someone who shouldn't have been in the ring with him.
It's when we come to the big names and the big bouts that we really are going to see, or rather not going to see, some interesting things happen over the rest of 2021.
We have already seen some fighters, for example Ryan Garcia, turn down a fight due to the purse he's been offered. We have seen other fighters stating they want to be paid more to fight in a non-fan environment.
We know that some fans will say a fighter should get as much money as they can. The sport is a dangerous one and they are taking potentially life changing damage every time they step in the ring. And to some extent I agree, though there are some real issues here which I'll get on to shortly. But lets all begin with the idea that a fighter has the right to ask for the most money they can possibly get.
Lets also agree that a promoter is a business man, and that in the business of boxing a promoter is to think about their own bottom line as well. They are, for all intents, doing the same thing a boxer is. They are putting their own financial well being first. We agree a boxer should, so a promoter, albeit a less physically risky job, should do the same. With that in mind, I suspect we can all agree a promoter has the right to offer whatever purse they deem fit.
We can then agree that the two sides can then negotiate to find terms they either can agree on, likely with the fighter lowering their demands and the promoter upping their offer, or both sides walking away, potentially even before getting near the negotiating table.
Typically that's fine. In this current age however a fighter maybe needs to think about more than their purse for the rest of 2020. They may have to look at the bigger picture. A fighter who can't agree terms to fight in the next few months may end up not fighting at all in 2020. They may end up sitting on the shelf for the year, losing momentum, getting rusty, and in some cases even being stripped of their titles, at the top level. The bodies do have the ability to strip a fighter for inactivity, and whilst they will almost certainly show some leniency that might not exist across the board, especially if a fighter wasn't active in 2019.
For example Felix Alvarado hasn't defended the IBF Light Flyweight title since May 2019 and Yuniel Dorticos hasn't defended the IBF Cruiserweight title he won in June 2019. Manuel Charr and Biebut Shumenov take these even further. Shumenov still holds the WBA "regular" Cruiserweight title that he won in July 2018, without defending it, and Charr has held the WBA "regular" Heavyweight title since November 2017, without defending it.
We understand situations for each fighter are different, such as Alvarado being pencilled in to fight last December before falling ill, but momentum has been lost and titles could also be lost.
A fighter who decides to sit out 2020 may end up finding themselves waiting a long time to fight again. Yes they should be paid, but the purses in the "new normal" aren't likely to be what they were before hand. Fighters will need to reasses their value, as will promoters, streaming services and televisions companies. Without ticket sales a promoter isn't going to get money at the gate, site fees are going to be none existent, we would expect TV revenue to be down, as advertisers cut back as well.
Of course a fighter should take all the money they can. But a fighter without a title typically gets less than they do with it. A fighter not fighting gets less than they do by fighting. A fighting sitting on the side loses fans, loses momentum, and loses out on a pay day.
Whilst it sounds like we're taking the side of the promoters we're not. They will also need to look at themselves. The Top Rank shows so far have been poor. Even fans starved of live sport haven't tuned in. The promoters need to realise the value of a star now more than ever, they also need to realise that this is a great opportunity to give fans 50-50 style bouts and to show them TV friendly fighters.
Fighters like Eric Mondragon and Mike Danny Sanchez provided something brilliant for fans whilst Adam Lopez and Luis Coria put on a show. Mike Plania saw his chance to shine and took it. Matching fighters with nothing to lose and everything to gain to bulk up the cards on offer is the best idea, let these kids shine, give them the platform.
Promoters are in a bind. They have spots to fill but know that they can't put on garbage bouts. Fans aren't that hungry. They also know they need their stars, they need to budge on the purses, just as much as the fighters. Both sides however need to be realistic. Purses aren't going to be what they once were, at least not for some time, but is it worth getting older, moving further past your prime and wasting your career away in the hope of getting the money you once got?
Fighters aren't getting younger. Moruti Mthalane and Gennady Golovkin have turned 38 since their last bouts, Nonito Donaire is 38 in November, Wanheng Menayothin and Jamel Herring are 35 in October, Nordine Oubaali is 34 in August and Terence Crawford turns 33 in September. The earning time is running down. I'm not saying these guys are turning down fights, but they are examples of fighters who are on the wrong side of 30 and losing a year of their career right now could be the end.
The "new normal" is going to be hard. For fighters, for promoters and for us all. Please do what you can to make your life a little bit better following the dark months we've had and the dark yet to come. Boxing, for some of us, is a little bit of a light in a dark world right now. We all want to enjoy it, so lets make the most of what we have, and look back into the huge archives of the sport for when nothing takes our fancy and we want to enjoy this fantastic sport.
This past week we've not seen much action at all, with only a few small shows scattered around the globe. Of course there's a huge event tonight, and we did see a rather large show in Korea being planned but then cancelled. Sadly though boxing missed a big trick this week, a trick that would have allowed it to use the focus that is being given the sport and spreading it.
With so much focus on the Deontay Wilder Vs Tyson Fury fight, it would have been a great week ton have had several other mid week shows. Fight fans are in Las Vegas anyway, the audience for some small, yet noteworthy bouts, are there. A card on a Thursday or Friday night appealing to British fans, in the US for Fury, would have been ingenious, or a TV card featuring two lower level Heavyweights, both of whom could have been sold as viable future challengers for the winner of tonight's fight.
Given all the outlets boxing currently has, especially in the US, it feels like it's one of, if not the, worst marketed sport out there. When other sports have a major event they pack the calendar around it, in boxing no ones seems to think about the bigger picture. In fact no one seems to look outside of their own little bubble.
I know some of our readers are wrestling fans, and they'll know all about Wrestlemania week. Not only do we see the WWE put on their biggest show, but they also put on an NXT event, a Hall of Fame event, and other fan events, along with smaller promotions hosting shows around the same week. The "sport" of professional wrestling embraces the fans by giving them a lot of options before the main show on a Sunday evening.
Boxing could have done something similar.
We could, and maybe should, have had some kind of small show on Thursday night in, or around, Las Vegas, and something on Friday night.
The silly thing here is that it could have been the same promotional teams behind Wilder and Fury, trying to hype tonight 's show to any undecided viewers further, or it could have been a rival promoter jumping on the coattails of the event. Both could have made use of the focus boxing is getting, both could have used the event to help put some wind in the sails of a show.
Instead all we got was a small card in Florida, featuring a pair of fringe world class little guys, with Jonathan "Bomba" Goonzalez beating Sual Juarez.
Now sure, the argument is that the event wouldn't have gotten much press attention, going up against such a big show. That argument however falls on it's face given the lack of press attention boxing gets in general. It would have been a chance for the promoter to literally have fans coming to them, being in the area on a Friday, or Thursday, and getting the chance to see a few fights before the big one on Saturday.
We've seen Golden Boy Promotions doing it in the past before a Canelo fight and we used to see it before a Mayweather fight. This was an event where it would have worked, but was very much a missed opportunity.
Boxing in 2020 is set for an interesting year, with the Olympics and fighters turning professional before the games, as well as the whole ESPN Vs DAZN Vs PBC wars, but if the sport keeps missing opportunities like this we do need to really wonder what promoters are thinking...then again maybe no youtube stars were free this week...
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.
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!
On Thursday we saw Luke Keeler come up very short against Demetrius Andrade in a WBO world title fight. The reality, which was obvious to everyone, is that Keeler shouldn't have been in a world title fight. The 32 year old Irishman is a likeable, solid domestic level fighter who got his chance, and unsurprisingly said yes, but the odds and common sense told us everything we needed to know. He didn't stand a chance.
The problem with a challenger like Keeler is that it devalues the champion and the title. The reality is that the WBO shouldn't have allowed such a big mismatch, and Demetrius Andrade himself, a man who has repeatedly said he's being ducked, shouldn't have allowed his team to match him with Keeler. It was a no win situation for Andrade, who could look win and look bad, and be criticised for his performance, or win and look good, and be criticised for his level of competition.
If it seems like we're having a go at Keeler, we're not. We fully understand him jumping at an opportunity like this. We have no idea how the WBO could have ranked him at #3 and that's the real issue. The world title bodies are harming in themselves with their bizarre antics.
In the coming weeks and months we have some real farces dressed up with a world title and pretending to be a title fight of some kind.
We'll avoiding talking about "interim" title fights too much, but if someone can explain why Luis Concepcion, who is 1-2 in his last 3 and has just a single win in the last 2 years, is getting a shot it would be appreciated.
For major titles we have Artem Dalakian taking the absolute piss with his reign.
The WBA Flyweight champion is a real talent, don't get me wrong, but since taking the title in February 2018 he's faced two very poor Thai challengers, both mandatories, as well as Gregorio Lebron and next up is Josber Perez. The 24 year old Perez has absolutely no wins of note, his only bout of any note was last July's loss to Rober Barrera. But the WBA have allowed him to fight for the title, and allowed Dalakian to defend against him.
With the bout the WBA Flyweight title loses value, Dalakian again comes under criticism, and we have yet another world title mismatch.
The WBO also have an issue with a poor challenger coming up when Wilfredo Mendez defends his Minimumweight title against 40 year old challenger Gabriel Mendoza in a weeks time. Mendoza has lost 2 of his last 4, being stopped in 1 and almost shut out in the other. He's got 2 wins in 3 years, yet is getting a shot in just a week's time.
Of course weak challengers aren't a new thing. They are something that have always been out there. Sadly however when a fighter only fights 2, or if we're lucky 3, times a year these soft defenses do more than good.
If Mendez, or Dalakian or Andrade were going to defend their belt 4 or 5 times in the year, like Muhammad Ali in 1976 when he beat Richard Dunn before clashing with Ken Norton, then these easy defenses would be more palatable. But as it is champions seem willing to take the route of least resistance far too much.
If Andrade wanted to prove he deserved a big fight, as he seems to claim, defending against someone like Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Liam Williams or Rob Brant would be a great starting point. For Mendez the Minimumweight division is one where picking and choosing is easier, but there are men circling the waters, whilst Dalakian's reign at Flyweight is totally indefensible, given the depth in the division.
The relatively common phrase we hear is "it's the champion that makes the belt" and that's so true. Unfortunately for the sport too many champions are going around as if believing a belt is what makes them. In reality the belt can become absolutely worthless with too many easy defenses. A champion sometimes needs to prove themselves, take a risk and actually fight someone deemed a challenge. If it doesn't work out, like it didn't for Tevin Farmer this week, then so be it.
In relation to Farmer, his reign as the IBF Super Featherweight champion is great proof of how devalued a title can be. Farmer's reign form August 2018 to January 2020 featured 5 successful defenses, but in reality none of those came against a world class fighter. The first world class challenger he faced dominated him, regardless of what the scorecards said. Sure farmer was a busy champion, but he seemed unable to, or unwilling to, face a genuine world level contender until he faced, and beat up by, Jo Jo Diaz
If you ask someone, who isn't good enough, if they want to fight for a world title of course they will say yes. It's not their fault if someone is offering them the fight. That fault lies a long from them. They are someone being given the opportunity of a life time. We can't fault them for accepting. But we can be angry at the promoters, champions and world title bodies allowing the horrific mismatch we keep seeing, and the mismatches we could see a mile off.
Fans aren't stupid, fans can see when a fighter and their team are trying to pull the wool over our eyes. They can tell when someone is pretending to be one of the best, and sadly fighters are too happy to pretend to be a champion, rather than taking the risk and proving they a champion.
So my message to the champions out their, prove your among the best, and to the title bodies, stop sanctioning so many mismatches. Your titles are regarded as valueless by fans and the media because you're shitting over them. Treat them for what they are supposed to be, a sign that whoever holds them and fights for them is world class. Not just the best available for a given date.
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