by Jeff Fenster: In no Particular order, I will begin with…5. Shorten big cards to 4 fights Total.
And by total, I mean including off TV fights as well. Just 4 fights, and thats it. Now many of you may be immediately opposed to this idea, but hear me out. Two big improvements can come from this. First of all, watching Saturdays big Pavlik vs Taylor rematch showed me something I’ve seen many times in the past.. An absolutely dead crowd for the under card fights. Dead crowds make it much less exciting for the paying TV audience, as well the as the few fans in the crowd that actually want to enjoy the fights. In my opinion, the reason for these dead crowds is because nothing more is expected of them. Nobody wants to cheer loudly when everybody around them is completely silent. Fans are used to showing up only seconds before before the main event for this reason. They know that there isn’t much entertainment in watching the preliminaries, and they may think from past experiences that there certainly wont be anything to cheer for.
By shortening the cards to 4 fights total, you are setting a new normality for a night at the fights. When people show up for the first fight of the evening, they are already lively with anticipation of the main event, seeing as the main event is only a few fights away. This excitement translates into louder reactions to under cards and the fans will have more reason to get involved. More excitement translates to better fights, more intensity, and more passion.
The other positive may be a bit of a stretch, but I truly believe this could happen. With all these under card bouts being removed from the big stage, where are all these fighters going to fight? Well I’ll tell you. They could be there own card somewhere in New York, or Texas, or Las Angeles, or any other of the many thriving fight towns. In a way, this could be like a revival of club fights. For example, Brian Viloria fought on the under card of Pavlik-Taylor 2, in front of maybe 14 people. It was a strong performance by a guy that has a sizable fan base in Hawaii. Take that fight, make it your main event in a small arena in Hawaii, and make the other fights your under card. Those fights weren’t half bad either, and that would have made for a nice night at the fights. And the fans that would buy tickets for that event, would be paying to see Viloria, and would therefore be much more into the fight and its under cards.
4. Categorize Under card fights.
By “Categorize” I mean keep the under cards under a certain nationality or an under card that will appeal the fans in the arena. The best card I have ever been apart of was Zab Judah versus Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden. Besides an amazing main event with an electric environment, the under card proved a thrilling appetizer. Knowing that the fans were going to Hispanic, Puerto Rican, or Brooklynites, Bob Arum put together the perfect undercard from top to bottom. You had Peter Quillen, a popular New York prospect, fight a competitive 8 rounder to really start off the evening, followed by son of the legend Julio Cesar Chavez pound out an exciting KO victory over Grover Wiley, the last man to beat his father. Then Humberto Soto pounding out a thrilling KO victory over Pacquiaos’ brother. All this was greatly appealing to the fans in attendance and the place was packed well in advance of the main event.
By way of contrast, Pavlik-Taylor 2’s under card had absolutely none of that creativity. You had an almost entirely Hispanic undercard for a fight between two very American fighters. Ronald Hearns was a good enough start, but from there the card collapsed on itself. Mijares-Navarro and Montiel-Castillo were two damn good fights. However, you couldn’t tell that by the crowd, half of which appeared to be asleep. The reason is because they had no reason to care. Had there been a fighter from Youngstown, or Arkansas, or some American prospect, the crowd would have Definetly been more lively.
3. Propose a Monthly “Prospect of the Month” type show to ABC.
ABC was going pass a terrible Antonio Tarver fight, so I can imagine something of this sort passing if done correctly. Imagine Andre Berto taking on his biggest test to date on ABC, in a crossroads fight, with a wide audience watching on TV and taking notice. Imagine Amir Khan in front of thousands of adoring UK fans, making his first major appearance on US TV. Imagine exciting young Heavyweight Chris Arreola taking a crossroads fight against a guy like Rahman on ABC. And imagine having only that one fight aired, but being preceded with a interesting 10 minute Bio on the fighters past or current life? Wouldn’t that be thrilling for us as fans? This isn’t at all a stretch and is in fact very possible. We don’t even need prime time slots. European fights like Amir Khan would be aired at 3 or 4 in the afternoon here in the US, which is far from a prime-time slot. And US prospects could fight at 11 or 12 at night on a Saturday, which again is not a prime slot. Things like this are possible and in the long run, will be a major payoff to promoters who will have HBO and SHOWTIME throwing plenty of cash there way for the rights to air that prospects fights. The only thing holding it back is a little bit of greed. Promoters want money now, and aren’t interested in setting things up for the future
As Users of Eastsideboxing, I would love to hear your thoughts on these ideas. Thank you very much.