ALTHOUGH the bar was already extremely low, somehow the press conference for Floyd Mayweather’s exhibition content with YouTuber Logan Paul was even more embarrassing than expected. Logan’s petulant brother, Paul, snatched the hat off Mayweather’s head and a brawl ensued. While the Logan brothers, despite being in their mid-20s, acted like 14-year-olds, Mayweather looked alarmingly old. It might just be the thicker beard and hair he’s now sporting, but he looked like a man who should be enjoying retirement, not scuffling with internet trolls.
Regardless, the whole fiasco further proved the point that you don’t need to know how to box to succeed in boxing now, you just need to know how to wind people up. Videos of the brawl were instantly all over the internet and social media was abuzz with people talking about Floyd’s upcoming ‘fight’ with Paul. The sky’s the limit for this pay-per-view now.
ONCE again, the Q-word has reared its ugly head, but this time the narrative is being driven by the broadcast team covering the fight in question. Billy Joe Saunders, after putting in a competitive effort against pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez, did not come out of his corner for the ninth round after suffering a nasty facial injury.
While the extent of the damage wasn’t immediately clear, the effects on Saunders were. After Canelo landed a crunching uppercut, Billy Joe immediately backed off and looked vulnerable. More concerning was the fact his right eye swelled up almost instantly; a clear sign that something is broken.
Alas, DAZN’s commentary team didn’t pick up on this, instead focusing on Canelo’s subsequent surge in aggression. While it’s understandable for them to get caught up in that drama, it was flat-out disgusting to hear Chris Mannix and Sergio Mora immediately criticise Saunders for “not going out on his shield.” That is a direct quote from their commentary, they literally said that.
Mora, a former fighter, should know better and when given the opportunity to clarify his statement, he said he wouldn’t go so far as to call it “quitting” but said it’s “more a case of [Saunders] not having another gear to go to.”
Thankfully, DAZN had drafted in Carl Froch for commentary on the fight and he was the only one there would expressed concern over Saunders’ injury and how that would have been the deciding factor, rather than any perceived lack of courage or ambition.
The debate over fighters “quitting” or not will rage on ad nauseum, but it’s a real problem when the commentary teams on major broadcasters are so quick to stick the boot in, especially when there appears to be evidence of a pretty significant injury. Mannix said he was “speechless” that Saunders – who he had up on his unofficial scorecard – chose to stay on his stool “because his eye started swelling.”
If the reports of Saunders being diagnosed with a broken orbital bone are true, then he wasn’t just dealing with some swelling, he would have been experiencing excruciating pain and legitimate fear over the long-term health of his eye.
Saunders himself will know the futility of criticising a fighter for leaving a fight because of an injury. After Daniel Dubois elected to not continue due to a severe eye injury in his fight with Joe Joyce, Saunders said afterward that he would have to be “carried out” of the ring and would never stop fighting with such an injury. Comments like that – whether they’re from a world champion, a fan online or a commentator – help no one.
Aside from those woeful miscalculations from Mora and Mannix, the commentary of the fight as a whole also left a lot to be desired. It seemed that the entire team went into the broadcast expecting the quintessential brawler vs boxer matchup, and wouldn’t be swayed from this viewpoint regardless of what happened in the ring.
Canelo wasn’t piling forward with punches so, in the commentary team’s eyes, he was not performing well. Rather than acknowledging the traps he was setting and the defensive brilliance he displayed at times, they surmised that he was badly struggling with Saunders’ style. While it was encouraging to see them cognizant of the Brit’s efforts and skill – the ‘B-side’ of big fights like this often get overlooked by commentary – Mannix had Saunders up at the time of the stoppage, which seemed like a real stretch.
Interestingly, though they appeared to miss the mark with Saunders, the commentators were right to question the motives of Nagy Aguilera, who writhed around in apparent pain, claiming he had been hit by an illegal punch from his opponent, Frank Sanchez. Replays clearly showed the shot barely grazed Aguilera’s shoulder, let alone hit the back of his head, and Mannix, Mora and company understandably expressed confusion and skepticism over Aguilera’s reaction.
Overall, though, the broadcast was admittedly thrilling. To see such a large crowd at a fight was undeniably exciting, and DAZN and the event’s organisers clearly spared no expense to put on a show.
The Athletic report that Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions could move from DAZN to Triller at the end of the year. Golden Boy’s current contract with DAZN is up at the end of 2021 and Oscar confirmed that talks are ongoing for a nine-figure, multi-year deal with Triller, a platform best known for allowing Jake Paul to fight non-boxers for obscene amounts of money.
While the move would help legitimise Triller’s involvement in boxing, it’s hard not to think that promising Golden Boy fighters like Vergil Ortiz Jnr and Ryan Garcia would not benefit much from this. Though it’s still a new platform, DAZN has established itself as a major player within boxing.
Triller, on the other hand, has so far only provided a stage for freak shows and circus acts. Fighters like Ortiz and Garcia deserve better than that.