One thing that is probably quite obvious if you follow the Asianboxing account on twitter (and you should do!) is that I'm not personally a big fan of promotional bluster and idle chit chat from promoters. I fully understand the idea behind a promoter needing to push their show but they also need to be honest, and avoid devaluing their other shows and eroding what little trust they have with fans.
This coming weekend is a great example of a promoter trying too hard, with Matchroom's Eddie Hearn trying to convince fans that his upcoming show, this weekend, is his best show of the year and worthy of being a PPV. He also stated that the show was an expensive one to put together and it needed to be a PPV show to be made.
Now I need to start this by being quite frank. I generally don't care how much a fighter gets paid. I don't see a penny of that money, and I'm not one for being bothered by what someone makes. But for a promoter to pretty much tell fans that "the fighters need paying so you're forking out" for bouts that, in all honesty, no fans have been clamouring for is ridiculous, especially when so many British fans already fork out for Sky Sports, and many have also been left financially harmed by the on going pandemic.
I've recently done a rant on payments of fighters, and at the end of the day this is a great example of what happens when fans want to suggest fighters should make as much as they can. We end up with fighters being "over-paid" for what are relatively average fights. Chisora might be a fun fighter to watch, but a bout between him and the often terrible to watch Joseph Parker is a crap shoot as to whether it's going to be watchable or a complete stinker. Other than that the next most interesting fight is a solid female world title fight between Katie Taylor and Natasha Jonas, which is a very good fighter, and then we see Dmitry Bivol defending his Light Heavyweight title against Craig Richards, in what is regarded as a mismatch, James Tennyson fighting for an IBO Lightweight title, in another bout that has "mismatch" vibes, though could be a surprising shoot out. Oh and how can I forget the farcical mismatch between Chris Eubank Jr and Marcus Morrison.
Whilst I accept betting odds aren't everything, a 5 fight accumulator on the favourites pays just better than evens, and the "best" priced under-dog is 20/11. Hardly a show of even match ups, and certainly not a single fight on the show that fans were truly demanding. Yet some how this ends up on PPV.
In the words of Eddie Hearn himself this is a "It's the card of the year. Massive card, this Saturday."
Now I'm not here to argue semantics, but for me a "card of the year" and a "massive card" are two totally different things.
A "massive card" is a stacked card with several big bouts on that fans want to see. A great recent example, from Hearn himself, was the March 13th card in Dallas, headlined by the rematch between Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman Gonzalez. The show had 3 really, really good match ups on it, of which two truly delivered. Another recent "massive card" was the September 26th 2020 show on Showtime PPV, the Charlo double header, which was genuinely one of the biggest cards of the last 12 months.
As for "card of the year", this, to me, is a very, very different thing. A "card of the year" candidate is not about the names, it's about how enjoyable the card is to watch. It could be a marathon of great bouts, or it could be a short card with wars, but it's how much enjoyment I get from watching it. When it comes to great cards I'll happily say the recent Top Rank card was among the very best this year, along with the 2020 All Japan Rookie of the Year finals, in February, and the January 9th card from South Korea, which featured just 5 bouts but had 4 fights that were simply amazing on it. One of those is included at the end of this article for those who want to see just a slice of what makes Korea the most exciting country to watch boxing from.
Generally I find the best cards to not be those with big bouts on, and I know I'm in the minority. I know that most fans are drawn to the big names, and the top fighters in the sport, and the most talked about fighters. And that's fine, we all have different tastes. However I think we can all agree shows with well matched bouts tend to be a lot, lot more enjoyable than shows with mismatches through them. It's just a shame that so few promoters feel the need to give us, the fans, even match ups. Instead they feel a strong desire to dress up bouts that no one wants and pretend that they are doing us a favour.
I know that millions will watch this weekend's Matchroom show, and I get that some of the bouts I rave about might be lucky to get a few hundred viewers, but at the end of the day we, as fans, need to begin demanding more even match ups, and not just putting up with the tripe promoters feel they can charge PPV for. If they continue to expect fans to foot the pocket for shows no one wants to pay to watch, and would expect to be part of their standard sports subscription package, then I don't really think they can complain about the rise of illegal streams. Especially after fans have been taken for a ride so much over the last few years. And unless every single bout on this weekend's show over-delivers, massively, this weekend's show won't be a show of the year contender. In fact, because boxing fans have relatively short memories, it will be little more than a footnoteat the end of 2021.
Before I finish this, I want to send a big thanks to Sakana who will be hosting a free legal stream of a card from Aioi Hall on May 9th, which can be seen here. The card isn't a big one, no one will be suggesting it will be the "card of the year", but from the 6 bouts on the card, there's 5 very competitive looking match ups, including the 4th bout between Yossah Matsumoto and Ryusuke Harada, who had already fought to 2 draws and it wouldn't be a surprise to see them have another. Those types of competitive bouts are the ones I personally love, and the ones that make this sport what it is to me. Not bouts with 1/16, 1/20 and 1/33 favourites.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).