Saturday night saw another, and arguably the biggest yet, crossover boxing event broadcast live on DAZN as its main event of the evening [Insert sighs from boxing purists across the world].
The ‘misfits’ card was sold as quality from top to bottom by its promotors, and as been topped off with a ground-breaking double main event. Yet most of the card was so far from quality, in a boxing sense, that these claims are almost comedic. However, what is certainly not comedic is the ramifications that these events could have on the sport that we love.
Without trying to sound overtly negative, many things are irritable for boxing fans about crossover boxing. Whether it is the usage of ridiculous ‘world’ misfits trinket belts awarded to winners of match ups, the blurring of lines between real championship boxing and childish entertainment events or the gap of pay-checks between legitimate boxers trying to earn their way traditionally and influencer novices that are hopping on the hype train to earn a few quid, the list is endless. Although this can be difficult to admit for a boxing purist, when looking at the events as a whole and considering all factors some positives can be drawn from them. I say the word positive loosely.
A positive that is often spouted by on the fence promoters and those with heaps of optimism that try to defend or justify the influencer antics is the exposure that it gives to the sport. This is to some extent true in the sense that real talent can be recognised and displayed to viewers in ad breaks alongside faux boxing content, and the numbers supporting the eyes on this advertising is undeniable.
As an example, a young person drawn in by the fame and influencer madness from the previous weekend will have been exposed to upcoming Matchroom and DAZN cards across the world throughout viewing.
These cards advertised are indeed legitimate nights of professional boxing. The viewer may then take notice of the future events on the DAZN schedule. However, those people, with this idealistic outlook, are relying on viewers to internalise the advertising.
Then to think to permanently subscribe to DAZN, which is not particularly low cost. Then think to come back, week after week. But one could more than a argue a case that this is reasonably unrealistic, and this is because viewers of these fights are simply not all that interested in real boxing and most would probably struggle to recognise a name on the DAZN schedule, let alone tune back in.
Many viewers may have bought the Pay Per View and will not return until another circus event is announced. Not to offend anyone, but similarly with how reality television shows are consumed such as Love Island, with little thought as it is ultimately a shallow watch.
Upcoming world title fights such as the unification between Sunny Edwards and Bam Rodriquez likely flicked past the eyes of viewers on Saturday night, which is more than disappointing. It is as if an audience has been misled into watching a Sunday league level football match thinking that it is at the level of champions league, while the elite squads pass by ignorantly unnoticed.
Maybe this analogy sounds ridiculous, however behind all the numbers and lies audiences are told online there is a lot of truth in this comparison. And let’s not ignore the most important issue with saying that it puts eyes on the sports. It may well be putting eyes on the sport, while also showing it in a undesirable light.
With that being said, not everyone is fooled by the nonsense social media audiences are spoon fed. However, think of the amount of children and young people watching this content who may be experiencing their first introduction to the sport, and the fact that influencer boxing it is so far from what boxing should be that this thought is indeed concerning.
I am not knocking that some influencers participating may be influencing young people to get fit and box but they are often ruining the integrity and beauty of boxing at the same time. Such as Dillon Danis trying to choke slam Logan Paul in the final round of their six-round fight, fighters rarely shaking hands or respecting one another post fight and the general ridiculous antics and outlandish behaviour that goes on in the build-up and post-fight to simply increase views.
Let’s not forget, Logan Paul had a mic thrown point blank in his face in the build-up and fighters were put in a segregated cage that they idiotically pushed and punched.
For the first time on Saturday I sat through and watched the majority of a crossover card, which was to the most part regrettable and now counts as lost time that I will never get back.
Yet, amongst the garbage, nonsense and poor match ups there were a few fights and names on the card that actually stood out from the rest in terms of the performance and lived up to event expectations.
No, this was not Tommy Fury versus KSI as quite frankly Tommy Fury showed that he indeed belongs in that scene, and he showed little promise of being able to go back and compete in the professional ranks. Nor was it the clash between Logan Paul and Dillon Danis. And do not even get me started on the ‘tag-team’ match which was one of the most bizarre things I have witnessed and completely disregards the initial point in boxing.
The names that stood out included Deen the Great, Slim and My Mate Nate. What could be taken from these individuals performances is that they had dedicated time to training and showed some level of skill in the ring, which ultimately paid off for them. I cannot dispute the performances from these names and from watching them fight I believe they actually participated for the right reasons and that they clearly enjoy the sport of boxing. However, many other names made me want to switch to the next channel and only made a fool of themselves entering the ring because they were there for simply all the wrong reasons.
I have no doubt that the three names I picked out will have entertained the audience in some shape of form, that is of course relying on the fact that the audience were there to watch some boxing and not inflated circus content to which they could have consumed shallowly on their devices at home.
These individuals actually showed some form of skill, and you could tell they were trying their best to box and display what they had learnt in the gym. Two of the three were also individuals that I have not watched before and I am unfamiliar with, which then shows that the name pull means very little.
Traditional boxing is about the mixture of hard work, discipline, talent and delayed gratification. If these things are missing when someone enters the ring it certainly shows.
I worry that if the crossover antics continue and the events keep expanding and getting more outlandish that it will leave traditional boxing for dead over the course of time. I fear that promoters will show less and less traditional boxing purely because of the lack of name pull and viewing statistics. I am well aware that this is negative way to look at things, but this is what could be very problematic and is a big ramification of the influencer boxing scene.
As we speak, one of the leading broadcasters of boxing content, DAZN, is juggling the two types of boxing simultaneously. These types being traditional boxing and faux boxing. However, I worry about the numbers going to the promoters and broadcasters head and them then selling themselves out for what is ultimately a circus act, that is unrelated and far from traditional boxing and its meaning.