July 21st, 2010 By Kevin Perry
KEEP ON HAMMERING AWAY AT THE OBVIOUS
Los Angeles, CA- While it gets tiring hearing negative comments about the state of boxing, in reality these negatives need to be addressed constantly so the powers that be (networks, promoters, managers) start to realize that unless you are pleasing the fans, the ones that throw down the money, the sport would fall off a cliff. Without inciting the lame cliche that boxing is dying, which only a fool would believe (this sport has thrived for over a 100 years through two world wars, untold scandal, fighter deaths and a Congressional hearing), it must be stated that boxing’s power brokers continue to shoot themselves in the foot. Unfortunately the people that suffer are the people responsible for it’s survival. Here are five things that are currently hurting boxing in no particular order.
1. Boring fights-
The fact that a fighter needs to be undefeated to headline a televised card or to make it on television (or fight for a phony regional title) is an outdated business model. The fact that some of the best bouts in the last few years have been “swing” bouts on ESPN and fights between unheralded fighters on Spanish language networks like Rogers Mtagwa’s (26-14-2, 18 KOs) war against Tomas Villa(23-7-4, 14 KOs) shows a need for more skilled matchmaking on the world class level.
TV DATES WASTED WITH RECORD PADDING FIGHTS
Watching prospects like welterweight talent Mike Jones (22-0, 18 KOs) against unexciting but capable marks like Henry Bruseles (28-4-1, 15 KOs) on Fox Sports West recently are necessary for a fighters development, however aren’t exactly TV friendly. Maybe networks need to have an increased focus on making the most competitive and exciting matches available, and not serve as a canvas for promoters to showcase their upcoming and sometimes undefeated prospects. Does Golden Boy or Al Hayman ring any bells?
2. Ridiculous purses being paid to HBO fighters- Not wanting to be redundant, but when prizefighters such as Chad Dawson (29-0, 17 KOs) or Andre Berto (26-0, 20 KOs) can’t sell out hotel ballrooms in their own hometown, and yet earn seven figure purses there is a problem. Not that either fighter doesn’t possess remarkable ability, but this is the entertainment business. In the music industry the best singer is not the highest paid music artist. That honor is usually bestowed on the best entertainer. The same philosophy should be applied to the fight game.
3. Networks levy power to the promoters- The main reason 2010 has been a dismal year for boxing is because network execs are out of tune with what their buyers want. Why not put together a poll in the last quarter of every year and see what fights the fans want to see? Then when they decide to create next years schedule present these options to the various boxing promoters (many of these bouts will be possibly between fighters with rival promoters). If they are unwilling to put their fighter in a proposed match, they don’t get rewarded or reap the benefits of a a million dollar purse. Fighters/promoters/managers would be forced to take tougher opponents because if they refused they would not be able to profit from the fruits of their labor. That’s how other sports and industries operate most of the time.
A fighter should be paid for what the fight is worth, not for who he is. If this stance was taken maybe a lot of promoters would be pissed off because they couldn’t fleece HBO and other networks out of money (think of Versus networks $250,000 guarantee to Top Rank for shows headlined by the likes of heavyweight fraud Tye Fields (43-2, 39 KOs), however HBO would have a worthy product that the fans could appreciate and subscribers might get their money’s worth.
4. Fights between pugilists that are no where near their home base-This year junior middleweights (154 lb) Kermit Cintron (32-3-1, 28 KOs) of Reading PA and Paul Williams (39-1, 27 KOs) from Savannah, GA faced each other at the Home Depot Center in Carson CA. While being a great venue, having a Puerto Rican vs. an African American fighter from the East coast at a small venue on the left coast makes little sense. If you are trying to build a fighters fbase you would think more reasoning would go into the location of a fight. I can understand putting a fight in a casino venue from a financial standpoint, but Home Deport Center is a tennis stadium near Los Angeles.
5. The best don’t fight the best anymore-Never have I seen in my stint covering the sport more talk about fights that either haven’t materialized or are put on the backburner. I know I am being redundant as I have written many articles in regards to this, but it is probably the number one concern of boxing fans and it is a priority that should not fall on deaf ears.
If people want to know why many boxing fights nowadays (fights on HBO in particular) are fought in front of uninspired meager crowds is because THESE AREN’T THE FIGHTS FANS ARE INTERESTED IN! If a fight is compelling and you put it in the right locale it will sell tickets and get at least decent ratings. We’re not talking about showcases fights against stiffs. If there is anything the boxing world can learn from Showtime’s SUPER SIX WORLD BOXING CLASSIC (super middleweight tournament) is that if the best fight the best often, even if they lose at least they deserve to earn the money they are being paid. Even though German Armenian super middleweight (168 lb) star Arthur Abraham (31-1, 25 KOs) can sell tickets in Germany against nondescript foes doesn’t mean spectators won’t enjoy a pitched battle against opponents that fans know might have a shot at beating him. Get this…if he gets beat and looks good in defeat people will still respect him.