Benefits of Technology Finally Reaching Boxing
When referee Jay Nady administered the 10-count to a loopy Roy Jones during the second round of his rematch to Antonio Tarver, there wasn't nearly as much excitement or interest on my face as their should’ve been.
Not because Roy Jones — who I’ve long been a fan of — was knocked out in dramatic fashion. No, my concern dealt with the hefty pay-per-view price tag vs. the length of the main event. At that point, I was not a fan.
As time wore on, and I became a deeper follower of boxing, I’ve purchased many more pay-per-views both good and bad. In fact, since the Juan Manuel Marquez Floyd Mayweather fight in 2009, I’m fairly certain I’ve purchased nearly every mainstream show.
Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fights? Check. Shane Mosley vs. Segio Mora? Check. Miguel Cotto vs. Ricardo Mayorga? Yep. Chad Dawson vs. Bernard Hopkins II?
Heck, I even witnessed Evander Holyfield take on Sherman Williams. It’s a lot of money, sure. But I’ve enjoyed following the sport.
Still, I’ve often thought: there has to be a better way.
That better way has seemingly arrived thanks to promoters embracing new ways of delivering fights to fans. Bob Arum’s ESPN deal, which was recently renewed for seven years, according to an article by Dan Rafael, has already helped the sport immensely in viewership and will continue to do so.
Putting top-tier talent on a mainstream network can only help bring new eyes and new enthusiasm to a sport that the mainstream media too often refers to as antiquated or dying. Fans have been able to see Pacquiao fight, and Vasily Lomachenko prove why he’s at the top of many pound-for-pound lists, and they got to do it for free, or far a much smaller fee on ESPN+ then would be the case subscribing to a premium network or buying a single pay-per-view.|
Now I know the idea of subscribing to ESPN+ irritates many who already pay for cable. I too wish the fights were on “regular” ESPN. However, It can be argued that some of the fights scheduled to appear on the platform wouldn’t draw a big enough audience on TV — excluding obvious draws like Terrence Crawford, Manny Pacquiao, Lomachenko, and Gilberto Ramirez.
Yes, I know Crawford and Pacquiao have each had recent fights on ESPN+, but neither are really cut for “free” tv anyway. Crawford is near the top of the sport right now, so seeing him fight will likely cost. Likewise, Manny Pacquiao is a legend and had there not been financial issues before his fight with Lucas Matthysse, it would’ve been shown on a much higher price than what ESPN+ costs.
Even if every fight on ESPN+ isn't a 'Fight of the Year' candidate, I still enjoy having the option to watch fights that otherwise I wouldn’t be able to see.
It doesn’t mean anyone has or should pay for the right to watch, but it’s nicer to have the option.
I’m equally as intrigued about the DAZN app, set to launch soon, which will open up a reliable avenue for fans to watch fights in the UK and around the world.
Premium networks, network television and traditional pay-per-vew all still have a place in the sport and should be continually used effectively to help it to grow. Streaming platforms such as DAZN and ESPN+ have an important place as well. They should not be written off simply because they cost, but instead celebrated for bringing more fights to the fans.