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This is one of the best writeups I have seen lately.


It's finally upon us. After months of the hype, press tours, conference calls and mini-series, we are now just days away from THE event, as undefeated welterweight king Floyd Mayweather Jr., the sport's pound-for-pound best, moves up in weight to take on Oscar De La Hoya, the sport's dollar-for-dollar most bankable.

The event is titled "The World Awaits," with the promise that it will shatter all non-heavyweight pay-per-view records, and perhaps threaten the big boys, as well. We are told that it is our obligation, as boxing fans, writers and personalities, to encourage all of our friends to order this event.

The weekend is supposed to be proof that boxing is not dead and that we will not be overtaken by those pesky cage sports who, as of late, seem to attract far more while paying far less. The event is attracting a heavy influx of casual fans who only show up once per superfight, which is supposed to make this fight an audition for the future of the sport.

So why does it feel more like a going-out-of-business sale?

Given the little attention that has been paid to any other boxing card this year, it is quite evident that the industry in general — and HBO and Golden Boy Promotions, in particular — are putting all of their eggs (and dollars) in one basket with this event. While HBO and Golden Boy were touring the country, or hosting weekly conference calls, or releasing behind-the-scenes footage of both camps, the rest of the sport was busy getting it on in the ring, with nowhere near the fanfare, if any at all.

What we've been offered to date in 2007 has considerably surpassed the final product offered by this point last year. Unfortunately, it has become victim to the falling-tree/vacant forest syndrome. How can a great fight become a great event if nobody is around to watch it?

Such was the case for Golden Boy Promotions' two "biggest" shows of the year thus far. Shane Mosley's near-shutout over Luis Collazo this past February was fought in front of thousands of fans disguised as empty chairs at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Another GBP stakeholder, Marco Antonio Barrera, played the same room a month later, in front of more actual fans, though in a losing effort against recent signee Juan Manuel Marquez.

GBP CEO Richard Schaefer made sure to tear into Bob Arum during last week's media conference call, regarding the latter's inability to generate more than 300,000 PPV buys for a June 2004 show that featured both De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins. What he failed to mention that this very event fell far short of that total, barely registering 225,000.

Though they are the biggest, HBO is not the only game in town. Showtime offered four fight cards on their Showtime Championship Boxing series to date this year. All have been compelling, but what's the point if nobody is aware, never mind watching? But then, how can you be aware of an event that doesn't even have a home?

Such was the case for their last three SCB telecasts, none of which had a firm location until less than a month before the fight. That such little attention was paid to a February telecast (headlined by Chad Dawson's points win over Tomasz Adamek) that came on Super Bowl weekend should've been enough of a red alert that the sport is in dire need of a makeover.

Instead, it was more of the same. Showtime returned the next month with another highly anticipated matchup, with Israel Vazquez squaring off against Rafael Marquez. Once again, the contestants showed up with suitcase in hand, in search of the nearest vacancy. One was found, about three weeks before the fight, when the bout finally landed at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. About 5,000 fans managed to find their way to witness one of the leading Fight of the Year candidates. The total is a respectable one by boxing's lowered standards, an embarrassment for any other sport.

This is where things have gone awry for boxing, a sport of which many share the same view as legendary rapper Nas suggests is the case for hip-hop: it's dead. Neither is dead, but both are terminal. Both have reached a point where it's no longer about improvement, but rather settling on good enough, further lowering the bar and thus, expectations for the future.

In 1999, that magical year where HBO racked up four million PPV sales to equal $200 million in revenue, the events sold themselves. Even better, they provided segue for potential stars of tomorrow. De La Hoya's close, controversial split decision win over Ike Quartey was replayed a week later as the lead in to Felix Trinidad's showdown with Pernell Whitaker at Madison Square Garden.

That very same fight benefited from cross-promotion, as the first bout between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield appeared in the same arena a month later. Lewis-Holyfield I sold out in less than a month, but the boys in marketing didn't stop there. They targeted the same audience, spreading the word about Trinidad-Whitaker, which along with De La Hoya-Quartey was pitched by HBO as a welterweight final four.

De La Hoya's battle with Quartey drew 570,000 PPV buys. Trinidad-Whitaker was HBO's highest-rated telecast of the year. Three months later, HBO brought back the winners, with Trinidad and De La Hoya fighting a week apart in separate tune-up bouts to help build momentum for their September fight. The end result: Trinidad-De La Hoya remains the highest selling non-heavyweight PPV event of all time at 1.4 million and $71.4 million in PPV revenue, marks which many predicting — or hoping — this very event will surpass.

But it didn't end there. The bout was replayed a week later as the lead-in to Shane Mosley's welterweight debut. Mosley won that fight, and nine months later would defeat De La Hoya in the year's most-viewed PPV event, at 590,000 buys.

Lewis' controversial draw against Holyfield, was replayed on HBO one week later, accompanied by a heavyweight doubleheader headlined by Ike Ibeabuchi's near decapitation of Chris Byrd in a battle of then-unbeaten heavyweight contenders.

Lewis-Holyfield II aired eight months later in a month HBO dedicated to heavyweights. The week prior, fans were treated to two fights that wound up among the year's best knockouts, the former (Derrick Jefferson KO6 Maurice Harris) also a Fight of the Year nominee, while the latter (Oleg Maskaev KO8 Hasim Rahman) ranking among the year's biggest upsets.

The Lewis-Holyfield rematch was replayed on the same night Michael Grant climbed off the canvas to force Andrew Golota to quit (then still somewhat of a big deal). Five months later, Lewis-Grant headlined a PPV card fought in front of a packed Madison Square Garden.

The moral: Even with a big event, fans always need something to come back to.

Once De La Hoya-Mayweather airs, all you get the next week — is the replay. With as many fighters as HBO has under contract and/or showcases, they couldn't manage to find a single one to offer to potential new (or in some cases, returning) customers. In 1999, we got Trinidad, Mosley, and a future opponent to Lennox Lewis as a reward for ponying up the dough a week prior. In 2007, we get repeats and wrap-ups.

While 1999 was the most lucrative year for PPV boxing, 2002 was perhaps the last time creative matchmaking and marketing was on full display. An old boxing cliche for hard-fought battles is that the fighters left it all in the ring. In 2002, the boxing brain trust left it all at the marketing table. As the year came to a close, HBO bigwigs feared a letdown was on the horizon, for many of the biggest matchups that could be made became a reality that year.

Chief among them was the long awaited heavyweight clash between Lewis and Mike Tyson, which remains the highest-grossing PPV boxing event of all time. Signs of an apocalypse, however, came in the form that one of the most-hyped, anticipated fights of all time came in front of an arena that didn't sell out and actually fell short of the most PPV buys of all time, held by Holyfield-Tyson II. It was only because HBO was able to begin the experiment of the $55 PPV that Lewis-Tyson generated more TV revenue than any other boxing event.

Still, the network deserves the pat on the back it gave itself, as several other grudge matches came about. Mosley, then undefeated and atop most pound-for-pound rankings, was knocked off of his perch by an old adversary from the amateurs in Vernon Forrest. De La Hoya's long-running feud with Fernando Vargas was finally settled in their September 2002 collision.

A rematch to 2000's Fight of the Year was put together as Barrera avenged a controversial loss to long-time bitter rival Erik Morales with a controversial win in their June 2002 PPV encounter.

Another rivalry was born as Boxing After Dark cult favorites Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward blew the boxing world away with their unforgettable May 2002 encounter, paving the way for a rematch that would single-handedly resurrect the Atlantic City boxing scene, which even five years and two losses later remains Gatti country.

Once 2002 became 2003, the sport slowly began to disintegrate. Gone was the creative matchmaking and aggressive marketing. Replacing it was showcasing new talent in gross mismatches, and recycling old talent in hopes that the next star would arrive at its doorstep.

Rather than help building the next superstar, they instead recycle the old ones until there's nothing left to repackage.

HBO has gone out of their way to market De La Hoya as the sport's biggest — if only — superstar. Post-Lewis-Tyson, the top four selling PPV slots are owned by De La Hoya, a sad state of affairs for the sport considering he's only had six fights in that span.

With De La Hoya removed from the equation, Jones-Ruiz was the last to crack 600,000 buys. The May 2005 PPV event between Winky Wright and Trinidad registered 525,000 buys, the last to surpass the half-million mark, and that was only due to 75,000 PPV sales coming out of Trinidad's native Puerto Rico, a base which usually doesn't factor into final sales.

Mosley's first fight with Fernando Vargas — on the eve of the Winter Olympics — racked up 420,000 buys. No other PPV not featuring De La Hoya has since hit 400,000. Not even Mosley-Vargas II, which lost 70,000 fans in their summer rematch.

Should De La Hoya-Mayweather surpass, or even come within sniffing distance, of Trinidad-De La Hoya, it will completely separate itself from the current state of the sport. Consider this: Such a total will be more than the combined totals of the Roy Jones-Antonio Tarver trilogy, as well as that of Manny Pacquiao-Erik Morales.

De La Hoya's 2006 return against Ricardo Mayorga ranks third among his personal tally at 975,000, yet racked up more than the combined total of the year's next two highest grossing events. It's only 100,000 less than the combined total of all three Mayweather-headlined PPV cards, a red-alert if there ever was one, as Mayweather is one of the few remaining in the sport who could generate 300,000 buys regardless of who's in the other corner (325,000 PPV sales for his bout with Carlos Baldomir last November offered as Exhibit A).

Even scarier is the possibility that Mayweather keeps a pre-fight promise and win, lose or draw, decides to call it a career.

De La Hoya has remained bullet-proof at the box office through the years, but is in need of a big win against one of the sport's elite fighters. A loss to the much smaller Mayweather would be due to Mayweather also being much more talented, though merely viewed as De La Hoya falling to a smaller fighter, both literally and figuratively.

A Mayweather win helps back up his boast that he deserves to be mentioned among the sport's all time best. Mayweather, of course, believes he is THE best. He also believes that a self-reference as "the 50 Cent of Boxing" is a compliment, so take it for what it's worth.

What he would take, with a win and possible retirement, is the sport's last remaining breath.

If the event — or any boxing event, for that matter — properly marketed the sport of boxing as a whole, commercials would be run throughout the telecast highlight what's to come, at least in HBO's immediate boxing future. While watching the sport's biggest stars of today, fans need to be informed of the next generation of gladiators.

How many times does Fox pan to the crowd during a World Series game, not showing fans but instead stars of current and upcoming sitcoms? A rotating digital banner exists behind home plate, informing the millions at home of what lies ahead in Fox' future.

On Super Bowl Sunday, the next highest-rated show of the night, and the Nielsen week, is almost always the telecast that immediately follows the big game.

With American Idol's progressively-increased ratings comes career-best numbers for Fox' medical drama House. Their three-night Idol format earlier in the year paved the way for another hit reality series in Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, as sad as that may seem.

With boxing — and this event, in particular, it's never about the sport's future, even though many claim such is contingent upon this event drawing a record-breaking boxing audience. It's always about immediate results. That Richard Schaefer can claim with a straight face that the event justifies skimping on the under card is a flashing neon-lit sign of what's wrong with the sport. Why is it not in the best interest of Golden Boy — and HBO — to showcase the brightest stars of today and tomorrow on the biggest event of the year?

Perhaps it's for the same reason that nothing is offered in the form of HBO boxing next weekend. At which point, while the players involved in this event are busy counting the final take, the sport will return to its terminal state.

SLOW TIME AND LOW TIME SHOWTIME

When De La Hoya returned to the ring last May for his expensive showcase with Mayorga, Showtime refused to back down from the head-to-head telecast. Sticking to its first-Saturday-of-the-month format, "America's No. 1 Boxing Network" offered a junior middleweight matchup between Jose Antonio Rivera and Alex "Terra" Garcia. The bout turned out to be highly entertaining, providing a suitable alternative to those who didn't feel like parting with $55 to fulfill their boxing fix.

This year, Showtime blinked.

As "The World Awaits" Mayweather and De La Hoya, Showtime elected to stray from its aforementioned format. They will instead air highlights commemorating the 20th anniversary of Showtime Championship Boxing. The only live action offered by the network this weekend will be their ShoBox telecast the night prior, featuring heavyweights Eddie Chambers and Chris Arreola in separate matchups.

They also abandon their first-Saturday-of-the-month policy next month. Rather than live boxing on June 2, they instead offer a split MMA telecast, with the first part airing on Showtime, and the rest coming via PPV.

Their next SCB offering comes June 9 — which goes head-to-head with HBO's PPV Miguel Cotto-Zab Judah telecast. Their counter punch? Antonio Tarver's return, and network debut, as he faces Elvir Muriqi in a matchup that even ABC deemed hardly worthy of airtime.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Sorry so long guys but if you have time to read what I posted I encourage you to do so.
 

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A very well written an insightful piece. in fact better written than many journalists articles on the subject.

You mention cage fighting - MMA at the top of the article. I think it would be interresting to compare what the UFC is doing right and what HBO and the promoters are doing wrong.

UFC - Free fights on cable often featuring their top fighters and up and coming challengers.

Boxing - uhhh. When is the last time there was a free fight of any significance on baisic cable for boxing.

Reality shows.

Oddly enough the contender is actually a much better and more compelling piece of programming than UFC's The Ultimate Fighter.

However I think the quality of the Contenders production detracts from it. I know this sounds odd but when i watched it I was turned off by the use of music during the fights and the editing of the fights.

It seemed too slick and not real somehow. In The Ultimate Fighter, you get the whole fight, no cheering crowds, no music and many times the fight might suck. But it comes across as real where as the Contender fights looked like they were trying to duplicate Rocky.

Pay scale. Boxing is a victim of its own success.

Top fights have gauranteed purses. UFC still have guys fighting for much smaller amounts where the pay bonus for winning, knock out, submission or fight of the night - Could be up to 30K, and makes fighters that much hungrier and push more to win.

I don't begrudge boxers earning what they do, they earn it. But watching some heavy weights have a million dollar sparring match doesn't intrerrest me.

Anyways some thoughts.

As to the original opinion what happens next? Where do either PBF or DHL go if they win? What is the next compelling fight?
 

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goju-joe said:
A very well written an insightful piece. in fact better written than many journalists articles on the subject.

You mention cage fighting - MMA at the top of the article. I think it would be interresting to compare what the UFC is doing right and what HBO and the promoters are doing wrong.

UFC - Free fights on cable often featuring their top fighters and up and coming challengers.

Boxing - uhhh. When is the last time there was a free fight of any significance on baisic cable for boxing.

Reality shows.

Oddly enough the contender is actually a much better and more compelling piece of programming than UFC's The Ultimate Fighter.

However I think the quality of the Contenders production detracts from it. I know this sounds odd but when i watched it I was turned off by the use of music during the fights and the editing of the fights.

It seemed too slick and not real somehow. In The Ultimate Fighter, you get the whole fight, no cheering crowds, no music and many times the fight might suck. But it comes across as real where as the Contender fights looked like they were trying to duplicate Rocky.

Pay scale. Boxing is a victim of its own success.

Top fights have gauranteed purses. UFC still have guys fighting for much smaller amounts where the pay bonus for winning, knock out, submission or fight of the night - Could be up to 30K, and makes fighters that much hungrier and push more to win.

I don't begrudge boxers earning what they do, they earn it. But watching some heavy weights have a million dollar sparring match doesn't intrerrest me.

Anyways some thoughts.

As to the original opinion what happens next? Where do either PBF or DHL go if they win? What is the next compelling fight?
im not sure he wrote that.

infact im damn sure he never wrote that.

did you pbf?
 

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tommygunn said:
im not sure he wrote that.

infact im damn sure he never wrote that.

did you pbf?
woops

I tend to scan when I read and missed the first part

Sorry PBF I retract my nice statment :)

still it's a good piece
 

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goju-joe said:
woops

I tend to scan when I read and missed the first part

Sorry PBF I retract my nice statment :)

still it's a good piece
i dont have the energy tonight to read it all. lol

i'll have it for breakfast tomorow though it looks a goody.
 
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