OUT with the old and in with essentially exactly the same thing but just named after an explosive material instead. TNT Sports completed its metamorphosis from BT Sport and kicked off the new era on Saturday with an archetypal transatlantic double-whammy which took its viewers by the hand and led them down the well-trodden path from Telford to Las Vegas via a few hours’ kip in the middle.
The new cast were not, however, all available for selection as Laura Woods – who has famously left DAZN in order to head up much of TNT’s coverage – was nowhere to be seen. What has she got against Telford? I dread to think. Meanwhile, super-bantamweight Liam Davies is at the heart of something very special growing there, however, and TNT Sports should probably arrange a deal with a local B&B for their crew with Davies well placed to make it a regular spot on the Queensberry roadshow.
Davies aside, the undoubted MVP from TNT’s maiden voyage was their in-house pundit Carl Frampton. Given he won world titles in two weight classes, we know he loves a double but in Telford he did both the on-screen punditry and co-comms for the broadcast. And, as if that was not enough, he then popped up in the studio alongside Denzel Bentley and Amir Khan for the Las Vegas coverage piped in until dawn from the T-Mobile Arena. He looked the freshest of the lot there, too. And he’s just released a book. The man needs a pay rise – or a nap.
Speaking of which, TNT decided to make Crawford-Spence pay-per-view and charged £19.95 for it. It will be particularly interesting to see the numbers for this one, given how little the fight seemed to crossover into the mainstream. Few outside boxing circles will have burned the midnight/5am oil in order to watch the fight live but TNT might have snared a few more buyers the next morning when people woke up and ascertained just how dominant Crawford was – and people do love a stoppage. On the broadcast, there might be new faces elsewhere but it was the dulcet and familiar tones of John Rawling on main comms and he was magnificent in his capturing of the moment.
Of course, in America is was on Showtime PPV for a cool $84.99 – about £65 – and in a wide-ranging interview on the Boxing News Youtube channel, their president Stephen Espinoza predicted that it might just come close to the numbers racked up by Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia. That would be a great result – but the real quiz is how well it does in comparison to this weekend’s pay-per-view offering: Jake Paul against Nate Diaz. We live in hope.
THERE is no better snapshot of how our sport is viewed in the eyes of the mainstream media than when a putative superfight rolls into town. Sadly, in Britain at least, they don’t seem to care that much.
There was not a single representative from a UK national newspaper sent from these shores to Las Vegas in order to cover Terence Crawford’s generational performance over Errol Spence. It’s a crying shame. Dan Matthews, of The Daily Mail, was in attendance but he has recently relocated to the US – and his excellent preview did not make the paper anyway. The boxing reporters from all the titles are chomping at the bit to cover these fights and it saddens me that newspapers have decided that the cost to send a reporter to a major boxing event in Las Vegas – which can usually be done for around £3,000 – is deemed either too expensive or not worth it.
There was a time when every UK newspaper would send a reporter to a fight of this magnitude but those days are gone. In fact, most of them did not have a word about Crawford-Spence in their Saturday editions whatsoever. It is also worth pointing out here that there are zero ringside positions for print journalists at the T-Mobile – the closest are at the front of the bottom tier and the overflow is much higher up.
TRADITIONALISTS look away now but it is without question that ‘Youtubers’ now rule the roost when it comes to the basic coverage and consumption of this sport during the actual fight week and that was no more evident than in Las Vegas. Maybe it is appropriate that they have now even started fighting each other on DAZN, too.
The main throng of those covering the event in Sin City did so with a camera in hand and a channel on the internet. The way the weeks are set up make it manna from heaven for video reporters, who can plot up in the media tent and feast on a plethora of fight figures like they were at the Caesars Palace buffet.
Any Youtube channel worth their bandwidth were in attendance, for instance, when lightweight contenders Frank Martin and Keyshawn Davis shouted at each other in some enclave of the MGM Grand. They were all, too, on the lookout for a soundbite from Mike Tyson as he darted from event to event. Keith Thurman, Austin Trout, the list goes on. Reporters can now grab someone, upload it to Youtube and then grab someone else. It is no surprise, perhaps, that the print media find it hard to keep up with the unabating pace of this new normal in a sport like boxing.
But even Youtubers are up against it these days as the video of the week did not even land on that platform, but just on Twitter. That was when smartphone footage showed Caleb Plant open-palm slapping Jermall Charlo backstage after the weigh-in. On one particular Twitter page, the video has had 13 million views. Never mind TNT, that’s the real explosive material these days.