Here we go again.
When news broke last week that Spike TV had ended their two-year relationship with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, warning signs blared off as the usual suspects came as they usually did to deliver their semi-annual eulogy to the house that Haymon built.
Not only did the big hitters of the boxing media decide to start planning the funeral, but fans as well celebrated and chided the fact that the biggest attempt to bring boxing back into the mainstream…to GROW THE SPORT…is dying a miserable death.
Well, the truth is, Premier Boxing Champions isn’t going anywhere and the sport, forever dying, is still up and running. So why the rabid hysteria? What makes the “impending demise” of one of the biggest providers of our sport something to celebrate? Look in the mirror, fight fans, and take a step back and look at the big picture.
We are all terrible fans and a big portion of the boxing media want you to stay that way.
The Boxing Tribune’s own Caryn A. Tate wrote a marvelous story that involved more actual reporting than any of the doomsayers did upon the end of the Spike deal by communicating with both Tim Smith from the PBC and David Schwarz from Spike. If you’ve been paying attention, I’ve mentioned “The Spike Deal” more than once because that is ultimately what it was! A two-year deal that ran its course after–get this–two years, and now the deal is over with no malice intended.
So why is it so important that the PBC dies? HBO Boxing has done a terrible job in re-branding themselves after kicking Haymon out and no amount of Eastern European Supermen or one unnecessary pay-per-view after the other is going to do the trick. Golden Boy Promotions has moved into the ESPN spot that PBC once held as a dumping ground for their club shows, which will probably put them in the same predicament ESPN was in when they ended up cancelling both Tuesday Night Fights and Friday Night Fights for their lack of attractive matchmaking.
The real reason the PBC must die is because the mindset of the boxing fan base is a self-destructive one, and that mentality is perpetuated by the powers that be to keep the sport to the boys only club/niche status position it is now because it best suits their level of comfort. Nobody likes change, especially those who made their living and careers learning how to come up in said system, but change is necessary for the sport to grow. Once the sport gets bigger, it will invite more attention and allow newer, hungrier fans and press to do their thing and slowly usher them out the door.
The old school is being pushed up against the wall, and they don’t like it one bit.
Now this isn’t a case of liking everything you have and not asking questions, because we have every right to demand the best matches for our money. Would you rather watch bigger, more competitive fights on cable or must pay $15-25 a month to watch maybe one fight every couple of months on the premium networks with a heavy chance that it’s going to be a squash match or between two guys the public hasn’t heard of?
No other sport in the world is so self-destructive among its fan base than boxing is. We are actively rooting for the sport to die and have this notion to not accept anything new and hope for the love of God nothing ever changes, because if we aren’t happy now we sure as hell aren’t going to be happy later.
Look at MMA and the various organizations in that sport. Their fans are loyal to the product, their media actually is helping build it and they are giving tons of quality content away over the air on Bellator cards and UFC Fight Night cards, but nobody is coming together and saying “Yeah, these free fights suck! Take my money.”
Want to not be the only boxing guy in 25 miles of your workplace? Would you like to actually enjoy a conversation or debate in real life instead of with your resident Facebook group’s keyboard warriors? Wouldn’t it be cool to get together every weekend to watch the big fight with your buddies, even if it isn’t “the big one?”
We can’t have that, not until we as fans can come together and tell ourselves we are not going to be hoping our sport stays small and listening to the smartest guys in the room telling you to let it all burn to the ground. Until then, there is PLENTY of boxing to go around the next few months, and I guess I’ll leave it up to all of us to determine whether that is a good thing or not.