THOUGH there were a few shows over the weekend, the bigger news came from events that have yet to happen – Anthony Joshua’s upcoming heavyweight title defence against Kubrat Pulev, and the exhibition bout between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jnr.
It was first announced that Joshua-Pulev has been set at a price point of £24.95 on Sky Sports Box Office, producing a collective groan from boxing’s hardcore fanbase. In fact, it was only a year ago that Eddie Hearn said that price tag – which had been slapped on Joshua’s rematch with Andy Ruiz at the time – would be a “one off” and unlikely to happen again for a long time.
Of course, not even Hearn could have foreseen the Covid-19 pandemic, which has wrecked businesses and economies worldwide. Clearly, Joshua-Ruiz II was a much bigger fight than Joshua-Pulev is and so without context the two fights should not be the same price.
However, Joshua-Pulev will be behind closed doors, meaning a huge chunk of revenue will be missing – those involved have to make that up somehow which is being rolled out as the excuse for the inflated cost of this PPV.
It should also be noted that Hearn, as he has pointed out numerous times, does not set the prices of these PPV events himself, that is a decision made by Sky but it does speak of the conflict of interests when a promoter becomes the ‘voice’ of a broadcaster.
Shortly after this news, it was revealed that Tyson-Jones will cost fans £19.95 on BT Sport Box Office. This seems like a bigger transgression but, of course, the simple argument is that if you’re not interested, then don’t watch it.
However the question remains; why is an exhibition bout between two retirees well past their sell-by date costing fans the same as Tyson Fury’s first fight with Deontay Wilder in 2018? The silver lining is that the excellent heavyweight clash between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce will be aired on regular BT Sport earlier that same night.
Of course, we’re looking at this from inside the boxing bubble. Those who count the pennies operate on the outside and for these shows to be a financial success they need to pull in more casual fans, those who are not nearly as interested in the meaning and legitimacy of these fights. Names like Joshua and Tyson are enough to get them on board. With Christmas around the corner of what has been financially a very difficult year for many, fans will have to think long and hard about which, if any, of these shows they shell out for.
It’s also worth noting that DAZN will soon be launching in the UK – for £1.99 a month. One fight already confirmed in their schedule is Canelo Alvarez vs Callum Smith. If they continue to offer a decent slate of fights, it could put more pressure on other UK broadcasters to rethink their price points.
Terence Crawford weighed in on his apparent spat with promoter Bob Arum when he spoke to The Ak and Barak Show on SiriusXM in response to comments Arum made about “losing money” on Crawford fights.
“It p**sed me off because I’m one of the most loyal people to the core,” he said. “For him to go out and say some foolish s**t like that, it made me just look at him a whole totally different way. I never, not once said I was jumping ship or I was leaving Top Rank or I was motherf**king anything.”
While he went on to say that Top Rank should release him from their contract if they really are losing money on him, he also said: “We may have a disagreement right now, we’re going through some trials and tribulations, but we’re gonna get it figured out. But at the same time, I cannot bash Bob Arum and Top Rank, I cannot do that.
“They gave me the opportunity to accomplish everything that I have accomplished in my career.”
It seems as though, while clearly upset by Arum’s comments, Crawford is in no rush to end his relationship with the promotional veteran which, ultimately, is a good sign – a major disagreement could have sidelined one of the best fighters on the planet.
Now, if we want Crawford to fight Errol Spence – which it’s safe to assume that we all do – then we could all be rather disappointed.
Speaking to The Athletic, Spence triggered crushing memories of other big fights that passed us by when he claimed he is the bigger draw and the purse split should be 60/40 in his favour. Fair enough, always wrangle for as big a purse as possible, but if both sides dig their feet in like this, the fight won’t happen anytime soon.
Somehow, boxing was left off the list of sports which will receive emergency funding from the government as part of its recently-announced £300m ‘winter survival package.’
Aimed at spectator sports, the government is releasing funds to help sports struck by Covid-19. Rugby Union is receiving £135m. Horse racing is getting £40m. Even greyhound racing is getting £1m, yet there’s nothing for boxing, a demonstrably more popular sport than several getting assistance.
Boxing is also a sport with proven beneficial impacts on communities and society as a whole, particularly within inner city boroughs, so it’s baffling that the government have overlooked it. The British Boxing Board of Control said they are “disappointed and surprised” by the decision. With less young people entering gyms and taking up boxing, the sport will face serious problems in the future.
So, Floyd Mayweather publicly commented about a loathsome fight with YouTuber Logan Paul, which is a sign that he’s considering such a venture and is testing the water. Please, somebody, make this stop, 2020 has been hard enough already.