WHEN Triller – a video-based social media platform – entered the boxing landscape last year, it was met with a mix of confusion, ambivalence and excitement. Their foray into the fight game was an exhibition bout between aging legends Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jnr. Some saw it as a harmless way for two of the sport’s most transcendent talents to make some money in later life, while others claimed it was an attack on the sanctity of boxing. Things have changed. Triller recently announced the launch of its ‘Fight Club’, a new off-shoot to its main app that will focus exclusively on boxing. At a press conference for an upcoming boxing fight between former UFC fighter Ben Askren and YouTube menace Jake Paul, it was also confirmed that Oscar De La Hoya – now 48 – will make his comeback on Triller. It seemed almost fitting that De La Hoya’s microphone wasn’t working when he made the announcement and that it had to be repeated by rapper Snoop Dogg; the whole thing seems like a parody sketch.
Now, this is usually where the argument of ‘you don’t have to watch it’ comes in – believe me, I won’t watch it – but there is something more insidious at play here. When Tyson-Jones was announced last year, it was slightly easier to separate it from serious boxing, but that’s now becoming harder and harder to do when speaking to more casual fans of the sport.
Triller won the purse bids for Teofimo Lopez’ next lightweight title defence against George Kambosos Jnr, a fight which is mooted to take place on one of their bizarre cards. At last week’s press conference, Paul was barking at Askren about ‘the fight game’ and proclaimed their contest to be ‘boxing vs MMA.’ A reminder; Paul has never fought an actual boxer in his life. De La Hoya has spoken about his comeback as if he will be launching an assault on the sport’s elite.
To the uninitiated – which is the majority of people – Triller Fight Club isn’t offering up actual boxing cards in the same way the likes of DAZN and ESPN+ are. This isn’t the case; they are clearly cornering the celebrity boxing market and dressing it up as real fights, with the help of people like De La Hoya and Tyson who, understandably, are tempted by the money on offer and a chance to again do what they miss the most.
This cheapens the sport by removing the barriers of entry. You no longer need to ply your trade and work your way to stardom by beating other top fighters. Anyone with a large enough public profile can waltz over to Triller, find another non-boxer and earn millions.
It’s moving beyond just a bit of harmless fun; there’s now talk of ‘YouTube vs TikTok’ boxing cards where ‘influencers’ from the respective platforms will square off against one another. It’s all well and good us hardcore followers of the sport grumbling about this and acknowledging this isn’t ‘real’ boxing, but what about those casual fans whose attention the sport relies on? There’s no way you could convince them to watch a Terence Crawford vs Errol Spence fight over Floyd Mayweather vs Logan Paul, for example.
The business is broken, the tail’s wagging the dog and the inmates are running the asylum. They’re just making everyone pay to watch.
In an interesting turn, BT Sport will not be broadcasting Carl Frampton’s attempt to become a three-weight world champion against Jamel Herring in Dubai. When the fight was originally scheduled for February 27, BT had it in their schedule, but after it was pushed back due to an injury Frampton picked up, it will now be shown on IFL TV’s YouTube channel across the globe, with ESPN+ still airing it in the US.
It’s unclear why this change occurred and, at the time of writing, there are reports that free-to-air Channel 5 have picked up live coverage of the fight in the UK and Ireland. It’s a bit of a coup for the terrestrial channel – and certainly for IFL TV – to get a fight of such significance that will also take place at prime time in the UK.
The WBC’s ‘Franchise’ championship has always been gross, but it may have now actually served a constructive purpose. After his instant classic rematch with Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada was ordered by the sanctioning body to once again fight Sor Srisaket Rungvisai.
However, after some deliberation – and pitching from promoter Eddie Hearn – the WBC have made Estrada their ‘Franchise’ champion so that he can have a much-desired third fight with “Chocolatito”. It’s a bizarre way of getting there, but at least we got the outcome most of us were after.
Gervonta Davis has been indicted on 14 counts of various traffic violations related to a hit-and-run crash last November, in which four people suffered injuries. The most serious charge can carry a year-long prison sentence.
Davis’ involvement in the incident has already been widely reported, but video footage was also revealed showing a separate car arriving on the scene to pick up Davis so he could flee.
If Davis is convicted of all 14 charges, he could face over seven years in prison. If any of the injuries had been deemed ‘serious’, Davis could have been looking at a further five years behind bars.
Davis, an undeniably exciting talent, is on the verge of becoming a star in America but could be dragged down by his awful actions outside of the ring. Last year he was charged with simple battery domestic violence in Florida, after an incident with the mother of his daughter at a charity basketball game. In September 2018, Davis was charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly getting into a fistfight outside a bar in Washington.
While he should certainly face justice if found guilty, one also hopes Davis can get his life onto the right track.