The Business of Boxing

Ten Realities of the Business of Boxing

  1. Styles may make fights but embedded & gripping story-lines; universal themes & the emotional responsiveness of the sport’s fan-base to a fighter &/or/especially the combination of two combatants sell fights.
  2. Boxing’s consumers are highly emotional beings almost by definition – having  a strong emotional (affinity or aversion) to a combatant adds to the sell-ability of a fight. If you can’t make yourself adored by the wider boxing community you are better off loathed than eliciting no response at all. Making himself memorable was the making of a Mayweather – talent got him to the stage; an abrasive & highly divisive personality got him the Oscar.
  3. It’s Not TV. It’s HBO.” At the upper tiers of world boxing there are only two significant players – HBO & Showtime. As serious corporate entities they prefer betting on sure things – it is thus far more prudent to toil away in increasingly exciting under-card fights (whilst building your following) for slightly too long than not quite long enough.
  4. If you can’t be the best – be the best from your country. If possible try to be born in a nation where boxers are viewed as folk-heroes of the public’s imagination. Ricky HattonDavid Haye*; Danny Green are all examples of fighters whose marketing muscle outweighed their fighting ones.
  5. The competitive landscape of sports entertainment is more congested now than at any stage in modern history. Adherence to these core realities will be required in higher & higher levels as other forms of sports & popular culture entertainment vie for a lofty perch in the attention economy of the internet age.
  6. Nostalgia has a very special & very real value in this sport – nostalgia for fighters that are throwbacks to an earlier era (think Arturo Gatti) are at a premium. The same applies to a longing for the hand speed of a Ray Leonard or the ferocity of a Mike Tyson.
  7. Fight fans spend the majority of their time talking about, reading about & debating fighters who are tangible personas – if the fighter has a buoyant & engaging personality – confrontational or otherwise – sell-ability increases. At its absolute peak of public prominence in the late 60’s & early 1970’s the heavyweight division was a microcosm of societal inclinations & consciousness – not an athletic event taking place in a vacuum.
  8. Consumers of boxing as a product have the memories of elephants & the forgiving nature of an ex-wife owed last month’s alimony payment. Quit once & you are – to many of them – forever a quitter. Make pathetic excuses concerning your big toe* for a shambolic performance & you get the idea…
  9. There are fewer opportunities to undo & re-calibrate a fighters persona than in other sports & areas of public life. Very few boxers drop out of prize fighting’s top tier & are ever given a re-entry visa.
  10. There is a continual lineal championship of attention & bank-ability being contested at all times. Fighters who bring something novel & unmistakably special to the table tend to flourish. The affinity, yearning & hunger of the sports fan-base can be immense; but is a reality that is toyed with & exploited at the peril of the parties concerned – the passion for the sport is frenzied but sane.
Matt Hamilton, for ESNewsReporting!
Matt Hamilton

Matt Hamilton