The Liver Punch: For The Fans

This Saturday, from a 55,000 person stadium in Brisbane, Australia, Manny Pacquiao will face basically unknown Jeff Horn in a welterweight bout. It’s not the fight that most of us expected for the Filipino. Nothing about the fight is normal. Not the opponent, not the location, and not the fact that instead of being on HBO Pay-Per-View, the bout will be aired on ESPN at 9 pm EST.

It is the opening bout in a new partnership between ESPN and Top Rank. Unlike the Premier Boxing Champions series on ESPN which saw PBC only use house fighters, Top Rank aims to work with anyone who can help them make fights. That may be true, and it may not be, but boxing on basic cable is good for the sport, especially one of the biggest stars of the past 20 years headlining on a Saturday night.

The deal, and the fight, appear to be sound business decisions by Top Rank. Pacquiao’s PPV star has waned in the last couple of years and a bout against an unknown Australian was sure to do poor numbers at the box office. Every sport with which ESPN has a partnership makes money (the PBC time buys do not count as such). If Top Rank can roll out consistently good fights and build their fighters into mainstream stars on the heels of the only one still fighting, so much the better. This will be good for not only Top Rank’s bank account, but the long term health of the sport.

On Aug. 26, from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, the circus is coming to town. In what can only be described as an obvious and grotesque cash grab disguised as a fight, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is fighting UFC whateverweight champion Conor McGregor in a boxing match. The only thing about this stunt that is mildly appealing to hardcore boxing fans is the extra cash we’ll have after betting MMA bros cash on the bout. I’ve had several people take even money bets with me and quite frankly, this is best thing Floyd Mayweather has ever done for me. Some people have bemoaned that the fight hurts boxing, but I don’t see how that’s really true. A great many people will watch it, everyone involved will make money, and hardcore fans won’t be deciding between buying it or another PPV.

Neither of these bouts have been billed or remotely sold as being “for the fans.” That distinction belongs to one of the best fights that can possibly be made, Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin. The bout takes place Sep. 16, also from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. In the announcement and promotion of the fight, it has repeatedly been touted as a gift for fans. It’s definitely the fight that most of us wanted to see. The issue is that very few fans can actually afford tickets. The face value of the tickets wasn’t in any way representative of the actual cost after service fees were included. You may be able to afford $1200-1700 for an upper level seat, but why would you pay it?

Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya has had a great deal to say about Mayweather-McGregor being bad for the sport and hurting boxing fans, yada yada yada. De La Hoya is no stranger to saying ridiculous, and outright idiotic things, but at least practice what you preach, and for the love of god stop blowing smoke up my ass and telling me it’s brisket.

Delirium Tremens

  • Several boxers, including Adrien Broner, have had derisive things to say about Manny Pacquiao fighting on basic cable instead of PPV. Broner, who makes very low seven figures (thanks, Uncle Al) shit talking a man who always makes eight figures, and has made nine, is comedic. I can’t wait to watch Mikey Garcia vivisect that moron.
  • At first I was ambivalent about referee Tony Weeks’ stoppage in Andre Ward’s win over Sergey Kovalev. Weeks fucked it up, plain and simple. Kovalev got fouled and deserved a 5-minute rest. Hell, just giving him a count would’ve been better. I’m not upset about it though. Kovalev was cooked.