Boxing

Fans Play Role in Boxing Matchmaking Failures

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As is usually the case when a major fight falls apart in boxing, fans have flooded social media to blame “the other guy” for being the cause of the negotiations collapse.

Late last week, when it was announced that Terence Crawford would be fighting David Avanesyan on December 10, officially ending hopes of a Crawford-Spence welterweight title unification, the online Universo Pugilistico predictably exploded.

With both Crawford and Errol Spence blaming each other for the failure to make the fight, fans joined in, also taking sides.

The end result was the usual jumbled mess of bickering and finger pointing that seems to take up most everyone’s time and energy these days. In the heat of endless flame wars, though, was a harsh reality that nobody seems to want to acknowledge– none of them know a damn thing about who should be to blame.

Unless you were there, behind the scenes, directly involved in the negotiations, there’s no way you could know anything about who might’ve been the guiltiest culprit in sinking the big fight. And anything you may have read or heard about talks from the boxing media must also be taken with a huge grain of salt since anything reported is from info leaked to them by “insiders” with a horse in this race and a vested interest in shining a positive light on their fighter.

Veteran promoter and former HBO Boxing exec Lou DiBella talked about this on Twitter, railing against those playing the blame game after Spence-Crawford RIP’d.

“Laughing at all the people who are intent on blaming one party or another, without knowing JACK SH**, for YET ANOTHER meaningful fight not happening in the irrational, self-destructive, business of #boxing. And outside this niche, that we keep making smaller by buying and selling inferior product, NO ONE GIVES A SH**,” DiBella tweeted. “Let me clue you in on something people: no rational person, business entity, or investor does a deal to lose money. Some internet, keyboard warrior’s concept of a fighter’s value needs to be borne out by buys or subscriptions and have you paid attention to buys and subscriptions in #boxing lately people?!? Let me clue you in (cause you can’t believe anyone and a bullsh** PR narrative is easy to construct), it hasn’t been pretty. If the fight was as big as a lot of you folks, and likely the fighters themselves, believe, IT WOULD HAVE ALREADY HAPPENED. It will happen soon enough, God willing, because it’s certainly not getting bigger with more wait time and two non-competitive, low-value PPVs.”

Harsh truths, but truths nonetheless.

As a matter of fact, one can even go deeper than DiBella did and point a finger at the fans, themselves, as major culprits in the sport’s inability to put together some of its biggest matchups.

The whole “us vs. them, my guy is right/your guy is wrong” mentality among boxing fandom ensures a steady flow of he said-he said drama that allows for NOBODY to be held accountable for the sport’s failures. If there’s always a “the other guy’s to blame” back door, there will always be a way to escape accountability. Boxing business people (and fighters) have become very adept at using this dynamic to their benefit and, because of that, have become adept at taking matchmaking roads of least resistance with little to no fear of backlash.

All of this just adds to boxing’s existing problems which include a rotten, self-defeating business model and decades of paywalls and subscription demands that have removed the sport from the mainstream sports world.

Ultimately, though, boxing is a business like any other business. The consumers will call the shots with their purchasing power and the businessmen follow the will of the consumer dollars. Unless, of course, the consumers are too busy fighting among themselves.

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Paul Magno has over forty years of experience in and around the sport of boxing and has had his hand in everything, from officiating to training. As a writer, his work has appeared in several online publications, including Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports, FightHype, Max Boxing, Boxing.com, Inside Fights, The Boxing Tribune, The Queensberry Rules, and Premier Boxing Champions. You can reach him at: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com