This article is pure fights no politics, not focused on pay-per-view compared to free television/basic cable or paid streaming/premium channel. Much has been made about the 2021 year in boxing thus far as we’re starting to hear cries that the sport is on a downturn once again.
Most of the sentiment is wrapped up into a couple of reasons, but lately, it has to do with the Triller App and Jake Paul. Most media members spewing this stuff claim the best aren’t fighting the best enough, which left the door open for Fight Club PPVs.
As if Jermall Charlo vs. Demetrius Andrade would even remotely move the needle to the casual fan base. Errol Spence versus Terence Crawford hasn’t happened, but even that fight would only activate a limited number of casuals.
The reason why Mike Tyson and Jake Paul can sell PPV’s they have a large audience, plain and simple. Also, the major investment money behind the company, celebrities, and influencers goes a long way in marketing the events.
Mike Tyson is one of the most well-known persons walking the earth, and Jake Paul’s army of fans dates back from his early Disney days and the decade-plus of producing crazy content on YouTube. Yes, social media is way more important in the last few years for fighters to becoming popular, no doubt but let’s slow down on acting like it’s even realistic for 99.9% of boxers to grow their social platforms to the levels of Jake Paul. Even Ryan Garcia, who deserves a bunch of credit for his IG followers, but we can’t expect someone to emulate a young man with model looks and an outgoing albeit sometimes corny-as-hell personality. Again, that’s not to say boxers can’t do more to build a brand on social media, but some people get carried away acting as if it’s easy to grow real followers at a rapid pace. The kicker is some of those same folks will say after a loss that the fighter should’ve been more focused on being a professional fighter instead of IG-star.
It is true this year has been just okay, nothing special to write home about for a common fan that watches only a handful of fights per year. From January to March, the hardcore’s have been entertained with several quality bouts across multiple platforms. With more and more states across the country slowly opening up access to venues, it should help push boxing in a good space starting in May. Last year in the late part of the summer and early fall, through the end of the year, boxing closed strongly, all things considered. The watch-every-weekend folks were happy, along with casual fans of Mike Tyson, Canelo Alvarez, Gervonta Davis, and Errol Spence. Let’s not forget the mainstream attention and television rating that came from Lomchencko/Lopez. The main reason guys like Chris Mannix, among other usual suspects, are attacking the sport is the lack of bigger names without a date.
Deontay Wilder has been out due to litigation stemming from his trilogy bout with Tyson Fury. Eddie Hearn has teased the Fury vs. Joshua fight for a long time, and fans who follow the sport weekly are fed up at this point. Well-known fighters like Errol Spence, Terence Crawford, and Manny Pacquiao all without a fight officially announced. So I agree that the year has been alright, but nothing special, a lot of that resulting from delayed events waiting for venues and dates to be finalized, and of course, politics play a part. Triller has two more events coming up, one in June headlined by Teofimo Lopez, and now another in July with Oscar De La Hoya. Hence, I’m sure some of this has made the power brokers have to maneuver possibly more than expected. Bigger named events generally need a live gate attached to them or a large site fee to match their guarantees.
The upcoming schedule in May is definitely solid, and let’s not just brush over two undisputed fights already set with a possibility of two more on the way if Fury/AJ gets made. Canelo gets by BJS and then faces Caleb Plant. Although in woman’s boxing, it’s easier to get belts and make a unification or lineal fight, we’ve had a fair share of those with more on the way. All and all, it hasn’t been as bad as some would lead you to believe, so let’s catch up with how this first quarter played out.
For the most part, Fox Sports has been a disappointment ever since last fall, with only a couple of interesting fights on Fox this year. FS1 finally had a card on Tuesday but wondered if the PBC will double up their FS1 events this summer. Last Saturday’s Fox bouts were the best, hands down getting an upset in the opener, a good action bout in the co-feature, and a competitive draw between Tony Harrison and Bryant Perrella. Let’s see what June and July look like on Fox/FS1.
ESPN has been pretty good with a few duds that didn’t really take off per se. The standouts are clearly Oscar Valdez’s highlight-reel knockout of Miguel Berchelt and Joe Smith Jr. in a tougher than expected scrap with Maxim Vlasov. In May, Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor fight for all the belts at junior middleweight, one of the best, if not the very best, matchup on paper; no debating is needed.
Showtime had a rough 2019, bouncing back in 2020 somewhat but so far in 2021 looks impressive, to say the least. 122-pounders stood out at the beginning of the year as that division will continue to deliver starting in May, with the Nery/Figueroa winner taking on Stephen Fulton in September. Boots Ennis showed out against Sergey Lipinets, stopping him in fashion, and Stanionis/Dulorme was just what the doctor ordered for a young fighter getting tested. The best fight of the 1st quarter for SHO was Ancajas vs. Rodriguez. Showtime’s late spring and summer docket features some real bangers leading the way is yet another undisputed when Jermell Charlo faces Brian Castano in July. In May, Oubaali/Donaire should be entertaining, and let’s see how Gervonta Davis’s power carries up to 140 versus Mario Barrios in June.
DAZN had the best 1st quarter leading off the year with back and forth affair in Garcia/Campbell, and Diaz/Rakhimov didn’t turn out how many of us thought, but it was good action. We got a massive upset when Mauricio Lara shocked Josh Warrington. Usually, March can be a slow month on this side of the pond, getting drowned out by the College Basketball Tournament. That wasn’t the case on DAZN giving us hardcore’s a pair of rematches in Estrada/Gonzalez and Povetkin/Whyte. Another fight worth mentioning is Courtenay/Bridges. DAZN in May has Canelo/Saunders, Taylor/Jonas, and in July Garcia/Fortuna.
No, 2021 hasn’t been a banner year just yet but with the bigger names and quality fights still needed to be added to the summer schedule, let’s collectively take a deep breath and see how the rest of the summer and year plays out.
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ ropeadoperadio & Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio