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The boxing media review – Deontay Wilder charm offensive begins

Deontay Wilder
Stephanie Trapp/TGB
Streaming giant DAZN continue to make headlines while Deontay Wilder begins his charm offensive for Tyson Fury return, writes George Gigney

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WITH more and more insiders pitching 2020 as a crunch yeah for DAZN, the streaming service has entered the new year off of a strong 12 months in 2019. As reported by Deadline, based off figures released by DAZN, they had a 98 per cent rise in total streaming hours in 2019, to 507 million from 256 million.

Sixty-two per cent of those hours were spent watching football – six of the 10 most-watched events on DAZN in 2019 were football matches. Baseball was their second most popular sport, with boxing sitting behind motorsports and American football. While this might suggest that, despite the enormous amount of money DAZN has already spent on it, boxing may become less of a priority for the outlet, their most watched event of 2019 was Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Andy Ruiz in December. Expect their relationship with “AJ” to continue; they won’t want him going anywhere else.

What was really interesting was DAZN’s confirmation that mobile was the most-used method of consumption by their subscribers, accounting for 26 per cent (closely followed by streaming sticks at 23 per cent). It isn’t necessarily surprising, but does suggest that a significant chunk of those who watch DAZN are less inclined to be a hardcore fan who plops down in front of the telly on a Saturday night for a few hours to watch the boxing, and instead are more casual fans who will catch sport on their phone as and when they can.

These are all global figures, and in continuing to specifically look at DAZN’s performance in the US, esteemed writer Thomas Hauser sees far less reason to be positive. In the second part of his DAZN deep-dive for boxingscene.com, Hauser argues that DAZN is fighting a losing battle within an already over-saturated market. With more prominent streaming services and sports platforms, Hauser claims that DAZN isn’t getting enough subscribers. He cites industry sources who say that by the end of 2019 DAZN had 800,000 subscribers in the US – a fair bit shy of their reported ambitions for 3.5 million. Hauser also notes the importance of Canelo Alvarez for DAZN – their subscriber numbers see a bump every time he fights. In fairness, Hauser concludes with a reminder of Amazon’s history, and how the online colossus was haemorrhaging money for years before it became the staggering success it is now.

Canelo Alvarez
Canelo is vital for DAZN Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy

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Deontay Wilder may have been named an ‘Ambassador for Peace’ by Pope Francis, but that hasn’t stopped him labelling Joshua and Tyson Fury “b**ches” and “motherf***ers.” Speaking to TheBoxingVoice, the WBC champion responded to Joshua and Fury’s public ‘agreement’ to spar each other in order to help Tyson prepare for his rematch with Wilder.

He said: “I saw it. Look at those b**ches, that’s what I said, they’re all some b**ches. Who tries to team up on someone, you know?

“You say you’re the best, I say I’m the best, now you motherf***ers are trying to team up with each other. I guess it’s UK vs USA.

“It builds my confidence up, it allows me to hold my chest out and lift my head up a little bit more higher and walk through the room like I’m the man.”

IFL’s Andrew McCart dropped the ball in an exclusive chat with unified super-lightweight champion Josh Taylor, which came in the wake of Taylor’s split with the McGuigans and subsequent signing for Top Rank and MTK Global. There’s some interesting exploration of Taylor’s desire to go up to welterweight, but bar an apologetic question at the very end of the interview, there were no questions around the state of the situation nor about who would now be training Taylor.

Boxing Social picked up news from various prominent British trainers during the week. Dom Ingle discussed his rekindled relationship with Kell Brook, and it certainly sounds like Brook’s ready to just go for broke now at this stage of his career. He also spoke about two-weight king Billy Joe Saunders, who has worked with Ingle but for his next fight will join back up with Ben Davison, according to Dom. He spoke about how Saunders needs “one to one” attention from a trainer and with Davison no longer working with Fury, he should be able to focus more on Saunders.

Boxing Social also spoke to Joe Gallagher, who stated that he has spoken to Canelo’s trainer, Eddy Reynoso, in person about the Mexican superstar facing Gallagher’s charge and super-middleweight boss Callum Smith. According to Gallagher, Reynoso wants Smith to be in the opposite corner to Canelo for his next mooted outing in May. Interestingly, Gallagher also claimed that Reynoso ruled out Saunders as the next opponent for Canelo. As Gallagher knows, that’s just one man’s word, and if a Canelo fight fails to materialise, he and Smith are likely to move to light-heavy in pursuit of big fights.

Podcasts

Joshua gave a revealing interview to Sky Sports’ new Sidelines podcast in which he explored the psychological challenges he faced in 2019. Speaking about the anxiety every fighter goes through before they walk to the ring, he said: “What if I turned around and said: ‘I can’t do this?’ Everybody is there. The opponent is in the ring.

“You’ve come too far, so you have to just deal with the anxiety.

“Once you walk down that path you have burned the bridge behind you, so you might as well dominate.”

It follows a string of interviews with the unified heavyweight champion that have revealed more about his psyche and internal processes than we’ve seen before – a refreshing change in tact from a man who’s been criticised for being too guarded and prepped for media appearances. After his riveting sit-down with Micky Ward last year, Tris Dixon spoke to Ward’s half brother and trainer Dicky Eklund on his Boxing Life Stories podcast. It’s not necessarily an easy listen – Eklund discusses his stints in prison and battles with addiction – but it’s yet another example of how Dixon’s podcast is fast becoming one of the top listens for boxing fans; it’s full of interviews you won’t find anywhere else.

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  • I would think that DAZN doing badly in terms of subscribers in the US and the associated money problems would make them keen to launch in the UK as it would seem easy for DAZN to attract boxing fans from Sky in particular. The fact that DAZN hasn’t even set a future launch date yet makes me wonder if those boxing fans who are blaming Sky’s connection to Eddie Hearn for preventing DAZN launching here are actually correct.

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