IN the latest sign of the apocalypse, Sky Sports revealed that it will be broadcasting Floyd Mayweather’s exhibition bout against YouTuber Jake Paul – on pay-per-view. In their announcement, Sky labelled the bout “spectacular.”
Now, it’s easy to pick the low-hanging fruit here and highlight how gross it is that a subscription-based sports channel is offering this up at an extra price, but this is the reality of boxing today. Mayweather-Paul, as ridiculous as it is, will generate plenty of interest (and buys) from more casual sports fans. In fact, due to Paul’s YouTube and social media audience, it’ll likely go beyond that.
Sky Sports has a bottom line to think about, and their PPVs are a healthy portion of that. It makes business sense for the channel to pick up a sure-fire hit like this. Sky did the same with Mayweather’s fight with Conor McGregor a few years ago, to great commercial success.
That being said, this is a discouraging sign for the future of the channel’s involvement in boxing, or at least the kind of boxing that caters for the hardcore fans. In 2021, however, its takes more than hardcore fans to generate the huge audiences that will appeal to Sky bosses. Reports recently emerged that Eddie Hearn will move to DAZN once Matchroom Boxing’s broadcast contract with Sky is up this year. BN understand an official announcement will be made in June and the channel are already exploring their options should Hearn move on as expected. The fear is that Sky Sports might be tempted to focus solely on providing the odd pay-per-view.
They know how valuable Mayweather has been in that regard over the years. Mayweather-McGregor was one thing; a sanctioned fight between two proven fighters who had transcended their respective sports. It made headlines across the globe, despite the fact it was a glaring mismatch. Mayweather-Paul is an entirely different beast and sets a dangerous precedent. Mayweather, the greatest fighter of his generation, is handing a payday to a person who has never boxed a professional fighter in their life, and major broadcasters lined up to air the event. Showtime is hosting it on PPV in America.
Sky’s decision looks all the worse given it comes just days before Scotland’s Josh Taylor takes on Jose Ramirez in an undisputed title fight in America which, rather than being scooped up by a major broadcaster, will be available to UK fans on FITE TV. Taylor-Ramirez deserves a much, much bigger platform on these shores.
But what it does speak of, again, is that Mayweather versus anyone will generate more viewers than a top class fight like Taylor-Ramirez. Thankfully, it’s being shown on ESPN in the US.
Former WBO featherweight belt-holder Heather Hardy gave an honest interview to The Guardian, detailing her struggles as a female fighter. Now 39, Hardy has been one of the most well-known female boxers from the US in recent years, yet has never been able to use it as a full-time job.
She has had to bring income from other work while also raising children and training. Lockdown in 2020 was especially hard as she was told she wouldn’t be able to earn anything from boxing. The sport is gradually working toward something reasonably close to gender equity, but there’s still a long way to go.
Speaking to GiveMeSport, former two-weight world champion David Haye – as part of BT Sport’s ‘Draw The Line’ campaign – spoke out about the abuse he’s received on social media.
“[People think]: ‘if you’re earning £50,000-a-week, you can take some abuse for that £50,000-a-week.’ There’s no amount of money that deserves people to change your energy by receiving such disrespectful hate,” he said.
“We all seem to justify their actions with: ‘oh, he drives around in a Lamborghini, he can take some stick, can’t he?’ It doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got in the bank, a horrible comment to someone is a horrible comment to someone.”
With Billy Joe Saunders coming under fire online after his recent loss to Canelo and other boxers like Ryan Garcia speaking out about the pressures of social media, there is clearly a problem with prominent fighters being targeted.
Of course, this isn’t unique to boxing. Football players have begun highlighting the vile racist abuse they receive on social media, which prompted a temporary boycott of social media by Premier League players and major broadcasters and news outlets. Clearly, the social media platforms have a lot of work to do in shutting down such horrendous abuse.
AFTER the news broke on Monday night, via the Daily Star’s Chris McKenna, about Deontay Wilder winning his case to be granted a third fight with Tyson Fury, Eddie Hearn was inundated with requests for interviews.
So on Tuesday he released a video that indicated Team Joshua would move on from the super-fight if the situation was not salvaged by the end of this week.
“We were always assured that this wouldn’t be a problem,” Hearn said. “As far as I understand it Tyson Fury still wants to fight Anthony Joshua.
“Hopefully they can move forward with the August 14 fight. That’s up to them now, it’s out of our hands.
“We have other options, like the WBO mandatory, Oleksandr Usyk… That might be the fight we have to get locked in.”