Dreadful PPV Undercards and the future of Boxing

Brian Landry - At what point will boxing promoters understand what they are missing?

After another expectedly underwhelming undercard prior to Clottey- Pacquiao, it is becoming increasingly frustrating having to dish out the $49.95 to watch PPVs that incorporate such awful preliminary matches.

Let's take a look at this weekend's undercard, shall we?

John Duddy vs. Michael Medina - a non-prospect, brawler turned uninspiring boxer vs. a non-prospect, raw free-swinger.

Alfonso Gomez vs. Jose Luis Castillo - a non-prospect with mediocre boxing skills, average power/speed vs. a washed up former champion who posed no real competitive threat.

Humberto Soto vs. David Diaz - a talented, usually crowd-pleasing fighter moving up in weight vs. a solid 135 pounder who is hard to look impressive against.

What's wrong with this picture? It was painfully obvious to the average boxing fan that all three matches lacked genuine significance and did not include any promising prospects. Obviously, the main event is what draws people to buy PPVs, but this is not the point of my inquiry.

Regardless of the main event, what do boxing fans hope for in their undercards? I can not speak for all fans, yet I think most would like to see a combination of fights including either:

a.) a prospect vs. another prospect
b.) a prospect vs. someone who will present a certain challenge to be overcome (size, speed, experience, boxing ability, heart, etc...)
c.) a competitive, 'must-win' type fight, in which the winner goes on to more significant fights and the loser goes back to the drawing board.
d.) a contender vs. another evenly-matched contender
e.) a contender vs. a prospect making a step up in class

I may be missing a few scenarios, but what is common to each of these types of fights is that they are all competitive and have significance. Duddy-Medina? Competitive, but far from significant. Gomez-Castillo? Slightly competitive, also far from significant. Soto-Diaz? Moderately competitive, slightly significant. (I actually did not have as much gripe about this fight as I did the previous two. At least got to see how Soto handled 135 pounds against a physically strong opponent)

I for one would much rather have fights like those featured on the Fight Night Club Nokia series, put together by Golden Boy Promotions. Imagine having competitive, significant fights on the undercards of PPVs! No need to imagine, as UFC is a prime example such a practice. MMA's popularity would not be where it is at today if the UFC PPVs had not included competitive, seemingly-significant fights, as they have. I say seemingly because it seems that each fight on the undercard of a UFC event involve title fights with fighters who have a decent fan base. Although many undercards involve 'title fights' in boxing, the litany of titles present in the sport diminishes the importance of being called a 'titleholder', yet that is another issue worthy of a separate article.

How much money is designated to the undercard is obviously a secondary priority to promoters who must first take care of the financial wishes of those participating in the main event. This can not be an excuse for poor undercards, however, as I'm sure there was more money available for the undercard of Clottey-Pacquiao, for example, when compared with shows at Club Nokia. Put on decent fights, and everyone will benefit.

Although I am admittedly frustrated with the lack of important, competitive fights on the undercards of PPVs, I am equally frustrated at the opportunity wasted by boxing promoters of the day. Why not showcase fighters that have a future in the sport? If promoters wish to make their clients the most money, it would make sense to showcase their talent to a wide audience, which would immediately lay a foundation for a fighter's fan base. Before the Clottey-Pacquiao fight, Bob Arum argued that the undercard was very good and worthy of being on a PPV. It's Arum's job to promote the event, yet his belief
that the undercard was top-notch was disingenuous. Prior to the fights, it was evident that the undercard was awful. Now, after the fight, the theory is irrefutable.

The largest consequence of this whole issue, however, is the effect that such poor undercards have on boxing as a whole. What casual fan gets hooked on the sport after watching Duddy-Medina, Gomez-Castillo, or Soto-Diaz? None. Such poor exhibitions of boxing only give fuel to those ignorant sports fans who claim that boxing is dead, or at least dying. Obviously anyone who actually watches boxing would never make such claims but can you really blame those who say such things? Other than those who seek out fights involving relevant contenders and prospects on a regular basis, like those of you reading this article, the casual sports fan, whose only boxing viewing occurs while watching the major PPV events, are subjected to boring fights that lack intrigue.

Now that boxing is scarcely found on regular T.V., boxing promoters have the unique responsibility of showcasing our great sport to the general public. They do a disservice to the sport and its fans to put on such unappealing shows that give the impression of an uninspiring sport. The general sports public rarely focuses on boxing, which is all the more reason to display the best our sport has to offer at every opportunity.

Article posted on 17.03.2010

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