Chat splits, get bored
As good friend of BBB Craig Scott discussed on Boxing Social recently, the new obsession with all access coverage in boxing has a lot to answer for. It has given fans the impression that they are somehow privy to financial negotiations and therefore suitably qualified to comment. Only when it suits though. Namely to defend their favourite boxers. It’s a new-fangled way of backing up your boxer without them having to actually step through the ropes.
If, (possibly the biggest if in boxing) Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder had actually fought. Savour that for a moment. Fans of each boxer would be discussing how the fight would go. Who had the power advantage? Who would start quicker? Who would tire down the stretch? How many rounds would it go? As the answers to these questions are further away than Wembley Stadium is from Alabama, the hypothetical debate about actual boxing takes a back seat.
Instead, we are left with the shambles that is arguing about purse splits, A-side, B-side and lion’s shares. Does this honestly happen in any other walk of sports? Federer and Nadal fans bickering over who has earned more prize money throughout their career. Rory McIlroy has a bigger house than Jordan Spieth so he must be better. Of course this sounds ludicrous, yet it is common place within boxing. Why? One of the reasons is the sheer quantity of informal boxing interviews that are available. We’ve done them, as have many others. Boxers, especially those lower down the food chain, are often approachable and happy for the exposure. Another is that in other sports, the fans are rarely left waiting for their stars to clash. The nature of tennis and golf as examples, are tournament based so the biggest names have to compete directly to get the glory.
Obviously, the nature of boxing, golf and tennis are severely different. If Joshua-Wilder had met each other as many times as Federer and Nadal have, one or both would be retired and in significantly worse health than they are now. Tony Bellew is often mocked for his “going home safely to his wife and kids” line, yet anyone in his position would be well within their rights to think similarly. Yes, boxers are a rare breed and most (in my opinion) would willingly square off against anyone and everyone. That’s why they have teams of managers and advisors to help them make decisions. Now though, there is the evolving narrative that has grown over the past few years that boxers need to look out for number one. And this is where the priorities of boxers and fans differ.
There does appear to be however, a growing population of “boxing” fans who believe that by sharing the boxer’s interests, they are more of a fan. More knowledgeable. Or a more understanding fan maybe. That by arguing their hero’s fiscal decisions, they are somehow nobly rising above the common boxing fan. What they don’t consider however, is that anything in the public domain is there by design. Promoters are putting out exactly what they want to and spinning it in whichever directions fits their purpose.
Even at small hall level, similar arguments are being made. Promoters have told our website (off the record) that Boxer X “is demanding silly money” for an Area title fight. Consider that for a moment, a part-time professional boxer, who has to work outside of the sport to make ends meet, is over-valuing himself and pricing himself out of a bout.
So where has this culture come from? Who is to blame? It’s potentially very difficult to accurately find one individual to blame. It could even be considered impossible to apportion the blame correctly. In truth, it probably comes down to a vast combination of factors. Increased media attention, the explosion of social media, the almost saturation of readily available online content.
Alternatively, we can all blame Floyd “Money” Mayweather.