On February 22nd at the MGM Grand we get the long awaited rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, the first legitimate super fight of the decade. As we write this on January 17th the card has had 1 bout, just the main event, confirmed for it. With just 5 weeks to go to the show it seems unlikely the card is going to have a stacked under-card, and even bouts that have been linked to the show now look like they will end up being pushed back to more suitable dates.
In fact from various reports not one of the 3 world title bouts that have been linked to the card have been signed as of yet. With two of them reportedly being pushed back to other dates and one fighter's team reportedly not being contacted at all for the fight they have reportedly accepted fight. The two that have been linked, and seemingly pushed back did so due to a lack of time to prepare. Something that was easily avoidable given the show was essentially known about late last year, and the promoted could have given fighters 8 weeks, if not longer, to prepare.
We all know boxing isn't simple, we understand cards falling apart at the last minute, injuries and pull outs ruining shows, but to not have even put together the card 5 weeks out is totally different. This is just bizarre.
Of course the defense many will give is "the under card doesn't matter" or "do you remember who was on such a such under-card? No...Exactly" but that totally ignores the actual issue here. The contempt of fans and the inability to actually give fans value.
I often criticise Eddie Hearn in this weekly piece. After all his willingness to have cards with drug cheats, headlined by YouTubers, and chasing the almighty dollar from a regime that kills journalists is worthy of a rant or two. He does however manage to put on some good solid shows, not as many as he and his fans...yes promoters have fans as stupid as that is, want to believe but he does still do some good shows. The February 29th one that was recently announced for example is a genuine treat for fight fans, and even the January 30th show is a solid card, despite the YouTuber's seemingly being the focus of the marketing.
Hearn, for the most part, puts his big cards together. There is coherency there. There is some match ups to back up the main event. Andy Ruiz Vs Anthony Joshua II had Alexander Povetkin Vs Michael Hunter whilst Joshua Vs Ruiz I had Katie Taylor Vs Delfine Persoon for support and the Srisaket Sor Rungvisai Vs Juan Francisco Estrada II card had Danny Roman Vs TJ Doheny.
Yes, Hearn puts on a lot of shit, but when he goes big he tends to have at least 1 solid back up bout on the card to warm people up for the main event.
Wilder Vs Fury II is as big as it's getting in terms of scheduled bouts so far. This is where the promoters should be delivering quality, especially at the $80 PPV price tag. This is where we, as fans, should be demanding quality, especially given the value DAZN are offering just a week after the Fury Vs Wilder card.
Now before I go any further. It doesn't mean that we need top level bouts through the whole show with big names to make a great under-card. We really don't. We do however need good fights. Fights that will interest fans and make it feel like it was money well spent. Under-cards should do a lot more than just "be there", especially when there are millions of eyes on the show, from around the world. What better opportunity to have a prospect step up a level, a couple of contenders battle for a chance at a title shot, or a bout between two fan friendly fringe contenders, or even match a contender on the show along with someone you want them to fight.
We don't need super cards with 6 world title fights as long as the show has some clear, well matched bouts.
Given the window of opportunity this show was to highlight the best of Top Rank and the best of PBC, with a Top Rank Vs PBC under-card being the logical option, the promoters have dropped a wet fart on Christmas.
In the media field one thing mentioned a lot is "exposure", and how doing something cheap can help in the long term. This was a card where anyone on it was going to get massive exposure. Instead of the promoters thinking long term, stacking a long under-card with prospects and hopefuls it appears that they have totally missed an open goal.
For those who want to pull the "you don't remember who was on X under-card" that actually doesn't matter. You don't need to remember they were on the under-card to make a mental note of their name for the future. Mayweather Vs McGregor for example gave a chance for fans to see Badou Jack, Gervonta Davis, Yoerdenis Uga, and the debut of Savannah Marshall. Mayweather Vs Pacquiao had Vasyl Lomechenko making his second world title defense, Adrian Grandos proving his value in a close loss to Brad Solomon and Jesse Hart moving a step towards world title fight.
If the under-cards aren't going to be stacked with big fights, which again they don't need to be, they should be stacked with talent. Give the up and comers the rub, let the spotlight shine on them for a moment, and let fans have a glimpse of the future.
Undercards do matter. They are the first chance many casual fans have to see emerging fighters. They are boxing's version of movie trailers, they allow fans to get a name in their head. Whether they link that name and the main event, ever again, is irrelevant they just know that they saw the fighter, and that the remember that fighter in isolation.
Undercards are important, and the fact Top Rank and PBC seem to think otherwise is not a good sign.
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