Tag Archives: boxing

Wild Display of Fury Puts Boxing Back on the Map?

By Griffin Olah

March 11, 2020

Griffin is a second-year undergraduate BGSU student from North Ridgeville, Ohio. He is a Sport Management major and a Journalism minor. His primary sports interests are baseball and football, both collegiate and professional, but he is also interested in basketball, MMA, boxing and hockey

On February 20, 2020, two of the top heavyweight boxers in today’s game met in Las Vegas for a championship bout. WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder stood across the legendary Irish giant Tyson Fury for a rematch years in the making. With the WBC Heavyweight Championship on the line, boxing was ready to shine again.

Wilder and Fury met once before in December 2018, where their bout drew 325 thousand pay-per-view (PPV) viewers, which was the tenth largest PPV audience for a fight since the Paquiao-Mayweather superfight in 2015 (World Boxing News, 2019). Their first fight was a wildly entertaining disputed draw ending that captivated viewers. It didn’t do much, however, to push boxing back to the forefront of the casual sports viewer. It did create a perfect backdrop to a fight that may be able to bring boxing back to its former glory.

After all the announcements and pre-fight press conferences, the hype for Fury-Wilder II was at its peak. FOX and ESPN decided to co-promote the bout, which pushed it to an even larger audience than their first fight. Pre-fight PPV estimates ranged from 1 to 2 million viewers (John Wall Street, 2020a). For context, that would be the most viewed PPV fight since the Paquiao-Mayweather fight that drew in 4.6 million viewers, but turned them away bored and disappointed by their purchase (World Boxing News, 2019). The hope is that this superfight can leave viewers happier than the failings of Paquiao-Mayweather.

Amid all the theatrics of putting on a fight, like Fury coming out on a chariot adorning a crown and Wilder wearing a 45 pound costume that may or may not have slowed him during the fight, was a wildly entertaining championship match. Tyson Fury dominated Deontay Wilder throughout the seven-round bout, and ended the battle in a stunning TKO victory with 1:39 left in the round (Campbell, 2020). 

After the hype and dust settled on the Gypsy King’s massive victory, the shine of boxing seemed on the borderline to return. The fight brought in an unprecedented $17 million in gate sales, which passed the gate record set by Lewis-Holyfield II in 1999 (Mazique, 2020). There were also between 800,000 and 850,000 PPV sales of the match, which is the fifth most watched fight since Mayweather-Paqiuao (John Wall Street, 2020b; World Boxing News, 2019). While the number of sales was much lower than initial estimates, it is believed that between 10 and 20 million people illegally streamed the fight (John Wall Street, 2020b). Illegal streams don’t help the sales and money generation for the fighters, promoters and everyone else involved, but they are a large indicator of the interest in boxing. With possibly 30 million viewers, Wilder-Fury II would easily eclipse the known 1.3 million viewers of Mayweather-Paquiao (World Boxing News, 2019).

Twitter seemed to collectively enjoy the fight, with many influential athletes praising Fury’s performance. High-profile athletes such as LeBron James and JJ Watt showed the fight’s successes, along with reactions from other high-profile sportscasters like Jemele Hill. 

One fight is not indicative of the return of boxing, but a success like Wilder-Fury II definitely helps. When people think of boxing, the most thought of modern fight is the Mayweather-Pacquiao snoozefest that drove away the hype of the sport. Now, an entertaining, classic title fight has taken the reigns and can drive more people to the sport. So, is boxing back? No, not yet, but the increased interest and media coverage will certainly help the sport return to the forefront of American sports coverage.

References

Campbell, B. (2020, February 23). Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury 2 fight results: ‘Gypsy King’ obliterates the ‘Bronze Bomber’ for TKO win. CBS Sports. Retrieved from: https://www.cbssports.com/boxing/news/deontay-wilder-vs-tyson-fury-2-fight-results-gypsy-king-obliterates-the-bronze-bomber-for-tko-win/live/

James, L [@KingJames]. (2020, February 23). His corner did he a FAVOR straight up!! No question about it. Equilibrium was super off and he may have…[Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/KingJames/status/1231455012624027650?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1231455012624027650&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fsports.yahoo.com%2Ffans-react-twitter-social-media-tyson-fury-dominant-win-deontay-wilder-rematch-las-vegas-062354330.html

John Wall Street. (2020a, February 21). ‘Unprecedented’ co-promotion should enable Wilder-Fury 2 to hit one million PPV buys benchmark. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved from: https://www.si.com/johnwallstreet/sports-business/wilder-fury-2

John Wall Street. (2020b, March 3). Between 10 million and 20 million fans ripped off Wilder-Fury II, piracy symptom of larger problem. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved from: https://www.si.com/johnwallstreet/sports-business/wilder-fury-piracy

Mazique, B. (2020, February 22). Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury 2: Massive live gate breaks heavyweight record. Forbes. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianmazique/2020/02/22/deontay-wilder-vs-tyson-fury-2-massive-live-gate-breaks-heavyweight-record/#5dbfde6e12e5

Watt, JJ [@JJWatt]. (2020, February 23). Wow. What a fight.#WildervsFury2[Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/JJWatt/status/1231454181984276480?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1231454181984276480&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fsports.yahoo.com%2Ffans-react-twitter-social-media-tyson-fury-dominant-win-deontay-wilder-rematch-las-vegas-062354330.html

World Boxing News. (2019, September 4). Top fifteen US pay-per-views since Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao. WorldBoxingNews. Retrieved from: https://www.worldboxingnews.net/2019/04/09/top-15-ppv-floyd-mayweather-manny-pacquiao/

Where is Boxing? Hopkins Claims Race is the Issue

In an interview this past weekend, light-heavyweight boxing champion Bernard Hopkins was quoted as saying the reason his story in boxing goes un-avoided in the media is because he is black. This Saturday Hopkins 55-6-2 (32 KO’s) takes on Sergey Kovalev 25-0-1(23 KO’s) in a light-heavyweight championship bout in Atlantic City, NJ.

“It’s because I’m black. What do you think if my name was Augustine, Herzenstein, Stern? Cappello? Marciano?…If I was any of those names of any other background, I’d be on every billboard and every milk carton and every place to be. If we’re talking ‘American Dream,’ here’s a guy who almost threw his life away and he took this great country’s great attributes and used it — do for self, work hard and be a law-abiding citizen. I’ve done that for 26 years.”

Hopkins, who has the record for the oldest fighter to win and defend world titles, will only be 2 months away from turning 50 years old this Saturday. Hopkins was released from prison in 1988 after serving over 4 years before he began his boxing career.

It’s not an unknown fact that boxing’s popularity has taken a hit in the recent decade. Despite new marketing approaches, campaigns and TV commercials, boxing has struggled to make money in pay-per-view events that do not include Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s name.

What happened to the excitement of the 20th century boxing fight? The trash talk of Sugar Ray Leonard, the pre-fight antic of Muhammad Ali, the posters around every major city advertising the title fight? All of these things are missing from boxing today.

So is race really the reason, Hopkins story and his fight v. Kovalev goes unnoticed in the media or is it just attributed to the lack of popularity towards boxing? Not in my opinion. This isn’t the first time Hopkins has made media headlines for something controversial he has said to the media.

See here. Oh, and here is this.

I’m not here to personally attack Mr. Hopkins. I just don’t put much into his claims of race being the issue his story in boxing isn’t covered, when the largest superstar in his sport is of the same ethnicity. However what Hopkins does point out is that boxing lacks the media attention it once had. The even harsher truth is that boxing has a serious problem coming ahead for them when Floyd Mayweather retires fall of next year.

Mayweather is the perfect example of why race is not the issue at hand. Mayweather, an african-american, is the most popular fighter in the United States. In a sport that lacks the demanding respect and popularity it once did during the 20th century, Mayweather is even known by people around the world by people who have never even seen him fight.

While boxing has always had its media superstars like Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and currently Mayweather as mentioned, there is yet to be a boxer anywhere near comparable to Mayweather’s media-attention level.

The UFC is also to blame for the unpopularity of boxing today. The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and other Mixed Martial Arts leagues like StrikeForce and Bellator now dominate the youth demographic. The sport, which includes boxing, also adds the excitement of Judo, Wrestling, Jit-Jitsu and other forms of hand combat which is a main factor in its popularity rise over boxing. The sport is faster paced and includes increased brutality compared to boxing which can also contributes to the excitement that has drawn fans in.

The United States has a great history in the sport of boxing. However, in our modern-day the United States may not even be the best country in boxing anymore. For the sake of the sport, and the future of it here in the United States, the boxing community as a whole will need to evaluate and make changes for the betterment of the sport.