Although still a niche sport, boxing has grown tremendously in the past several years. This is partly due to the emergence of digital platforms such as DAZN an ESPN Plus that feature prominent boxers from around the world plying their trade. For the promotional entities that lack digital platforms to show new fights (PBC), they still have a firm grasp on the television networks and pay per view model for boxing. Everyone is getting in where they fit it in so to speak, without any clear advantage over the other. None of these promotional companies are perfect and each one still seems to find a way to not make certain good fights happen, but that’s a story for another article. Boxing fans are left with three major boxing platforms competing to deliver the best product.
Normally this would be looked at as a good thing, but somehow someway some boxing fans took it upon themselves to join the “Great Promoter War”. Instead of enjoying the fact that three different companies are competing to bring them bouts, they openly profess their brand loyalty while only supporting that company’s schedule and boxers. As a hardcore boxing fan, you would think that feat is impossible, but here we are. A true hardcore fan that loves boxing and wants to see the best fight the best consistently, will hold each promotional company to the same standard. They wouldn’t shower praise on mismatches that line the pockets of boxers regardless of the promotional company. The sport loses, once fans start accepting the bare minimum from some promoters while ignoring better effort from others. Once this happens, there’s no initiative to put out better cards.
Unless you work for one of the big three boxing platforms, you shouldn’t care about brand loyalty. Boxing fans worry too much about the business of boxing and not the sport of boxing. This isn’t entirely the fan’s fault since they reflect the sport’s progression which has been more about business than actual fighting. You would think a few cooking shows were in the works with the amount of times you’ll hear the word marinate when potential fights are discussed. With super fights taking forever to happen to the point where they don’t even happen at all, it’s no surprise that some boxing fan’s interest would shift towards the business side of the sport. It’s only natural to want to find out why some of these big fights aren’t happening. Unfortunately, once some go down this path, they change for the worse. Some fans align themselves with certain boxing platforms as if they’re expecting a royalty check and a pat on the head.
Brand loyalty is no longer a trend with just fans. It has also crept into some of the independent boxing media and Youtube channels. People are picking and choosing what to cover in a sport that is already a niche activity. How can boxing grow an attract new fans if it’s treated like a product and not a sport? Brand loyalty might give you access to certain fighters an event once your media platform reaches a certain level, but it’s a double-edged sword. Usually those that engage in this method must abandon one side of the sport to bring light to another.
No matter how you cut it, there’s no upside to brand loyalty in boxing. True boxing fans are fans of the sport and want to see it prosper in its entirety, not just a few boxers or promoters. Furthermore, boxing is too big to just limit yourself to only supporting certain boxers and platforms. Boxers and promoters come and go, but the sport will always remain. HBO cut boxing from its network last year. I’m sure the fans of that programming are still around watching boxing somewhere. Boxing has always been the theater of the unexpected, but brand loyalty is something nobody should expect. Real fans just expect to see boxing at its best, no matter who presents it.
Written by Shutterworth for Ring Gang Radio