SPOOKY season is upon us. The nights grow longer, the days shorter, and when it comes to a choice between trick or treat, boxing – as ever – is opting for the former.
There was a point in time a few weeks ago when it looked like we might get Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua and Terence Crawford vs Errol Spence Jnr before the year is out. Now, that seems almost impossible and we might not get either of those fights at all.
What’s sad is that this isn’t surprising to seasoned boxing fans. The news that both fights were in advanced stages of the negotiation process was a genuine shock for us; it seemed almost too good to be true. The biggest and best fights in boxing have so often passed us by and it’s practically unheard of to get two within a few weeks of each other.
The situation now, in all honesty, is unclear. You need to be chronically online and keeping tabs on every single sports and boxing media outlet to keep up with all the latest updates, because the reporting is relentless. That’s more so the case for Fury-Joshua rather than Crawford-Spence.
We won’t be going into the minutia of the negotiations in this column because that would make for an extremely boring read and I probably don’t need any help on that front as it is. What we do know, according to Fury, Bob Arum and Frank Warren, is that the various broadcasters involved have agreed to terms in principle.
That’s a significant hurdle cleared and, if true, DAZN, BT Sport and ESPN should be commended for coming to some sort of agreement. That is a rarity in boxing.
Now there’s just a lot of finger-pointing from both sides of the table, making it hard to be sure what exactly is preventing the fight from being signed.
At this point, in the court of public opinion, does it even matter? If the fight doesn’t happen, none of those involved will come away squeaky clean. Even now a quick look at social media will give you an eye-opening range of theories as to who the Big Bad is stopping the fight from happening.
In this day and age, once one side makes a negative claim about the other, a response is virtually necessary. So it doesn’t take much for discussions in the media to snowball into the kind of back-and-forth we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks.
It seems as though conversations between both sides have dried up – it might be time for all of us to move on.
When it comes to Crawford-Spence the news has been less frequent but no more positive. According to ESPN the planned November date for the fight is no longer possible as there are still disputes over financial issues and guarantees. A prescient issue for these two is that it’s been a while since either of them last fought – at some point they’re just going to have to cut their losses if a deal can’t be reached and go their separate ways.
On a more positive note, October is jam-packed with action. There are a handful of exciting fights scheduled and plenty to keep fans satiated. Probably the most intriguing of these (for UK fans, at least) is the catchweight bout between Chris Eubank Jnr and Conor Benn this weekend.
The pre-fight coverage has been excellent. The Matchroom in-house team have made some great content on YouTube, having filmed some of the preparations from both fighters and packaging it into a few different episodes.
The pair have also been on national television talking up the fight, and doing an excellent job of it. Eubank Jnr has been up to his usual tricks while Benn refuses to bite. It’s enough to remind you of a certain pair of British rivals a few decades ago.
Speaking of which, it’s been interesting to note that neither Eubank Snr nor Nigel Benn have been particularly prominent in the fight’s promotion. When Conor and Eubank Jnr recently appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, for example, it was their respective promoters who joined them, rather than their fathers.
That’s not a complaint, either. For a fight with so much familial baggage, it’s refreshing to see the two sons be allowed to promote the fight on their own merits and charisma. There’s a reality in which the fathers are the ones appearing on morning television and going face to face to hype the fight instead, which would have made it far less interesting.
That being said, Eubank Snr has been popping up at various media outlets in recent days and urging people to boycott the fight. His argument is that the 157lbs catchweight will be dangerous for his son to make. He sent this statement to the Fight is Right podcast.
Whether this is genuine concern or some sort of reverse-psychology marketing tactic is anyone’s guess – it remains to be seen how much involvement Eubank Snr will have during this fight week and on the night. There’s no concrete reason to believe this isn’t a father looking out for his son, though.
Hearn told IFL TV that he believes the Eubank Jnr-Benn fight will reach one million PPV buys in the UK on DAZN. That’s a huge number on these shores, particularly in the midst of a cost of living crisis. Exact PPV numbers aren’t typically shared by broadcasters in the UK, so we may never know how well this show does.
But that is an ambitious claim from Hearn. This fight has not had the benefit of coverage a Sky PPV would have on national television. It also requires a subscription to DAZN before you can even purchase it (unless you are watching through Virgin TV, where you can purchase the fight, and a one-month subscription for £27.95). Those barriers could prevent this fight from reaching its full potential in terms of sales.
Boxing on the box
Chris Eubank Jnr-Conor Benn
Coverage begins at 7pm