(Now if only Mosley had shown that kind of intensity…)
Since there are no major MMA events until the 28th (sorry, Bellator) and Manny Pacquiao vs Shane Mosley just happened on Saturday, you’re going to be getting a lot of boxing posts today from people about as qualified to write about boxing as they are to give your mom a thorough cervical exam. At least this article from MMA Junkie tries to tie things into MMA. John Morgan asks Top Rank president Todd DuBoef why boxing fans don’t give a shit about catching the undercard and instead only show up for the main event.
“I think the supply of content for MMA or UFC was so limited early on that the fans used to want to see all of the fights, so they used to come early,” duBoef said. “They didn’t have all these platforms to see it. That’s No. 1. All the MMA fans would get there early because they were enthusiasts, passionate and connected to the product. They had been watching online. They had been reading about it, and they didn’t have this enormous amount of content that was available to them on a weekly basis, so those matches were so unique – supply and demand. I think each exciting event was like, ‘Yes, I’m watching live. I’m at the show,’ and each thing was significant.
“Boxing is distributed on Hispanic channels, ESPN, and all over. You have tons of content out there. The uniqueness of each match is lost.”
It’s an unfortunate reality for boxing, especially considering super-lightweight prospects such as Canadian Pier Oliver Cote (16-0), who delivered a third-round TKO of Aris Ambriz, and 18-year-old Jose Benavidez Jr. (11-0), who outclassed James Hope en route to a fifth-round TKO, went unnoticed by thousands of fight fans who had not yet entered the building.
duBoef admits it’s unfortunate those preliminary-card fighters didn’t get more live-audience attention but insists it’s all by design and but a small piece of the overall puzzle.
“When a fight is in Las Vegas, the casinos want the players at the tables,” duBoef said. “Those guys are going to gamble, and about 7 o’clock, the casino goes, ‘Let’s go. We’re about an hour from the main event,’ and they’re going to pull them off those baccarat tables and craps tables. They have it timed to a tee. They know I’m not going to walk main event before 8 p.m. local time, and they understand that they’ll fill the time before that with gambling because that’s massive business for them. The customer, the high-end player that’s being brought here for these events, are very high rollers.
“And remember, you’re only talking about 16,000 people. We’ve got global distribution. I’m in 170 different countries and over one billion homes. Yes, from a live perspective, of those 16,000 people, if only 5,000 people see Benavidez, and I’m losing 11,000 viewers; I get it. But I’m distributing it vis-à-vis through online mechanisms, through my international television mechanisms and all that stuff. It still gets broad distribution, but not through the butts in the seats of the arena.”
I dunno, what that says to me is that even the people who care enough to spend megabucks on tickets don’t care enough about boxing to … watch boxing. The part where DeBoef claims the empty arena is ‘all by design’ blows my mind. Is he trying to put on an awesome event or does boxing exist now more as a sideshow attraction to draw in gamblers attention like a Wayne Newton concert than an exciting sport that spectators should be eager to watch?
In the end, the comments from Dana White ring truest: “When boxing has exciting fighters, boxing will do well.” If people thought they’d get some great fights out of the undercard, they’d actually show up.