Before, during and after the farcical that was Mayweather vs McGregor many commentators and even fans of boxing/UFC stated that the fight was ‘good for boxing’. However, in comparison to that fight, there was a lack of media coverage and social media discussion before the Canelo vs GGG, that was not worthy of a fight tipped to be the best fight for many years. This proves that boxing is back under Mayweather shadow; after only just escaping it. However, maybe, the controversial decision in the fight is the best thing for boxing. People are at least curious about how there was a split decision and this can be used to promote the second round!
Whether it was the coming together of two separate sporting worlds, the ‘boy’ comment from McGregor, the homophobia from Mayweather, the overtones of racial bias from fans, the hype, the bravado, the mystery or the false narrative about ‘McGregor just needs one punch’- creating the illusion of his potential victory one or all of these factors meant boxing, UFC and casual fans were interested in Floyd Mayweather Vs Conor McGregor fight. Even if that interested was simply to state just how disinterested they were in the fight. I even said I was more interested in the finale of Game Of Thrones, but I still hypocritically stayed up to watch the fight! Nearly 3million people viewed the most over-hyped fight in history!
Yet, less than a month later, Golden Boy Promotions gave the world the prospect of one of the all-time great boxing fights. However, if you were to read news sites and social media timelines you would not believe that to be true. I am not talking about dedicated fight fans. I am referring to the ‘casuals’ that most of us once were. Pre-fight estimates were hoping for up to 1.5million viewers to watch this real boxing match; that’s half the Mayweather vs Mcgregor viewers.
The popular narrative was that the interest in Mayweather vs McGregor would have a spillover effect into the rest of the boxing world. This view was put forward by people working for major media organizations, not marketing professionals or even people who have built up a following from scratch without a major corporation behind them. In short, the truth is temporarily interested does not equate to continued growth or success.
I will provide two examples, Usain Bolt’s impact on athletics and the time I shared a funny sex story on my blog’s Facebook page.
Usain Bolt is considered one of the greatest athletes of all time. Greatness as any fan of Muhammad Ali will know, is not simply the ability to win. It is the ability to win in style and have a personality that transcends sport or human disbelief. For many people in the athletics world, they saw Bolt as the savior of athletics. This was after countless drugs scandals regarding previous iconic athletic figures. Usain Bolt is seen as charismatic, wholesome and funny. He has all the personality traits, a sport like athletics would want in the face of their sport. However, for all of Bolt’s talents he is still only one athlete.
By placing all of athletics hopes and dreams on his broad Jamaican shoulders, athletics placed itself in a ‘what happens after Bolt?’ type of conundrum. Yet, anyone that actively watched athletes during Bolts era should have been able to see that this conundrum was not just going to come after the London World Championships, sadly it had already arrived.
Stadiums for Diamond League events when Bolt was not racing, were empty. Even the Rio Olympics struggled to fill their stadium on nights when Bolt was not racing. Athletics had used a marketing model of allowing Bolt’s magnetism to attract fans, but they lacked the foresight to wonder how they would draw in fans when Bolt was not competing. Therefore, one great athlete does not equate to the viewership or potential success of a great sport.
Yet, athletics is full of amazing athletes. There are many athletes with comparable records to Usain Bolt great achievements. Yet, those athletes do not get the promotion or the media spotlight, therefore casual athletics fans never get the opportunity to cheer their names. Thus the sports fan base does not grow or widen. Only the fanbase of Bolt’s grew!
My other example is from the Facebook page for this blog. This blog speaks on a variety of topics. One of which is sex and relationships. On our Facebook page we shared a very funny story from Suppa Bad:
This video has had over 4.7 million views. It resulted in thousands of people liking my blog’s Facebook page. However, the success of this one video did not mean the success of every other video. People turned into watch this one video, however, only a minority then thought ‘hey I should check out some of the other videos’. Even though, they are equally as good, interesting or funny.
These two examples show why one successful boxing fight, does not equate to a lifetime of success for boxing as a sport. Just as Usain Bolt achieved personal fame and this video achieved millions of views, their success was not the tide that lifted up every other ship in their respective seas. This is a lesson boxing promoters and media need to learn.
Bernard Hopkins made this point before- promoters and the media need to get back to selling fights to the public. Boxers such as Rigondeaux are not all going to be Ali, Mayweather or any other charismatic ‘sellable’ greatest of all time type sportsperson. However, they are extremely talented at one thing- trying to knock people out! Therefore, it is the job of promoters and the media to sell and promote their ability to knock people out to the public.
In short, Mayweather vs McGregor brought together two of the most polarising, arrogant and iconic people in sport. Canelo vs GGG brought together two exceptionally good boxers but below average self-marketing gurus. Neither fighters command of English is good enough to think they could compete with Conor McGregor, in terms of creating hype, buzz, and viewership by themselves. Moreover, neither fighter looked to have a serious level of hate for each other. Therefore, if Canelo vs GGG part 2 is to be the spectacle the first fight could have been, the media needs to use this split decision to get the public wondering, debating and eager to see ‘who will win the rematch?’.
Otherwise, boxing’s only hope will be an Anthony Joshua Vs Deontay Wilder mega fight, with a result that is very close and makes people want to see the pair fight over and over again. If boxing stays in its current state even if Lomachenko vs Rigondeaux happens on 9th December, without the right promotion, it will be just another great fight that went underappreciated on social media.