This sport is rife with good evidence that there’s a voodoo priest hiding perhaps under HBO unofficial scorer Harold Lederman’s chair at ringside sticking needles into effigies of boxing headliners. How else is it possible that in the last several “big” fights, all of the action has all been before the match? Oh, there have been lots of dramatic face-offs, and HBO’s 24/7 buzz. Yes, it’s been all Wladimir Klitschko versus David Haye or worse, with tons of sturm and drang, Face Offs with a nervous Max Kellerman in the middle, family feuds and all… right up to the fight, which in cases like the above, winds up being a dancing lesson in which one partner suffers perhaps a stubbed toe. Or there just isn’t a fight at all.
After a quick review of a list of bad main events whose names have been reviewed here and elsewhere, what brand marketer would want to spend big money nowadays to get their brand’s name on the ring apron? Well if you’re Tecate, which has had marketing deals with Golden Boy since probably 2007, programs since then with ESPN, TeleFutura and Fox Deportes, and these days has its name in the middle of the ring for most major fights, it actually makes a lot of sense.
Unlike, say Budweiser, which used to be the beer brand of boxing, Tecate doesn’t really pitch to the so-called “general market.” The primary consumer base for the beer brand is Latino, and the top sports among Latinos are boxing and soccer (sorry, I mean football). I realize this is probably a chicken/egg argument, but might that have something to do with the fact that Mexican and Puerto Rican boxers come to fight? No, they don’t usually make for good 24/7 segments, since they are usually taciturn, and averse to histrionics (okay, Jorge Arce rides a horse now and then for his ring walk, and there was Antonio Margarito’s weird Freddie Roach bullshit) but they bring all the drama to the ring and they leave it in there, too. In the frozen north we have our examples of offense-minded fighters, but it seems to me that the kind of fire Micky Ward and Arturo Gatti brought is an exceptional happening nowadays, and it’s rarely a main event.
Tecate’s VP marketing Felix Palau e-mailed me his take on the situation, and he’s pretty sanguine, if you’ll excuse the expression. “If you think about it, boxing isn’t very different from other sports,” he wrote. “Fans of soccer, basketball and baseball also have to face disappointing performances and decisions by their top athletes and organizations. At the end of the day, boxing still exudes the character and determination that our consumers live by. This alignment in values is the reason why Tecate became involved in the sport to begin with.”
Tecate, as it happens, will be a big sponsor of the upcoming Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight on November 12 at the MGM Grand in Vegas. It is a fight that may end as most of Manny’s fight’s have recently, but it’s going to be a fight, while it lasts. Juan Manuel is a Mexican, after all, and therefore a lit firecracker when the bell rings. Tecate, as it has done for the last several big fights, will offer a $25 mail-in rebate off of the pay-per-view (with purchase of a 12-pack or larger), cross-merchandise offers at retail, and on-site ticket and product promotions in Vegas during the the event. A nation-wide campaign includes updates on Tecate’s Boxing Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/TecateBoxing) with news, photos and videos related to the event.
Tecate is also sponsoring another fight that will be guaranteed to be… well, I”m not sure “good” is the right word here, because both Miguel Cotto and Margarito should probably both call it quits, but it will be a real fight, we all know. And, hey, they are also providing some drama to the pre-fight broadcast rituals too, judging from a recent tweet from Kellerman, who wrote, describing the west-coast filming of HBO’s “Face Off” for Cotto-Margarito II, “Oh. My. God.” Their rematch will be Dec. 3 at Madison Square Garden. Pass me a cold one.