Fightful Boxing Newsletter (8/16) Table of Contents:
Golden Boy Boxing on Facebook
With the advent of online streaming and its ever-growing presence in combat sports, Facebook has entered the fray with a multi-fight deal with Golden Boy Promotions (in conjunction with Main Event Promotions). That partnership started this past Saturday, August 11 with the first Golden Boy fight card streamed exclusively on Facebook Watch.
The card, headlined by the recently-elevated WBA “regular” featherweight champion Jesus Rojas taking on Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. at the Avalon in Hollywood, California, came together as almost any other Golden Boy Boxing card in California were to be made. Most of the card were filled with highly-touted prospects looking good in their respective fights with the occasional action-packed bout here and there. Name recognition-wise, this card was slightly better than your average Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN card we’re used to seeing nowadays.
But the quality of the card is not the main selling point of this venture, and likely will never be. There were two goals for this particular card on Facebook and likely for all other cards moving forward: to push the fact that fans can watch good boxing on Facebook for free without the constraints of networks pushing for people to pay to watch and to push the multimedia aspect of the broadcast-fan interaction.
The first goal was certainly achieved (for the most part) as there was a solid audience for this card. As of midnight eastern time on August 15, 3.9 million people have watched the fight card, though those numbers can be a bit misleading. On Facebook, a view is constituted as watching at least three seconds of a video. Unfortunately, the stream got messed up halfway through the main event, which forced Golden Boy to set up an alternate stream for round six and beyond. Those that were lucky (like me when I watched the card live) were able to only experience some buffering and lag for maybe a couple of minutes before the stream picked right up again.
The alternate stream has garnered at least 115,000 views, which combined with the viewership for the first stream, would make it at least 4.15 million views. Again, this number is misleading.
Live viewership for the fight was significantly lower than the final number. I personally tracked the highest viewership for the card to be around 65,700 viewers, which occurred late in the co-main event. But for some reason, the viewership started to significantly drop from that point forward, even before the streaming issues started to appear. One potential theory is that some fans were not really interested in the fight after Diaz missed weight the day prior to the fight and the main event became a non-title fight. Of course, a few people may feel that way, but it certainly does not explain a 75 percent drop in live viewership.
Unfortunately for Golden Boy Promotions, the stream was widely panned by most of the boxing community for these very same streaming issues that caused some people to miss out on certain parts of the main event and for some people, not watch the rest of the fight altogether. Perhaps there is no bigger critic and detractor of these issues than ESPN reporter Dan Rafael, who is certainly no stranger to heavily criticize boxing companies for bad streaming issues (this is most prevalent during the first couple of fights in the World Boxing Super Series last year, which had way worse streaming issues than Golden Boy’s Facebook stream presented).
If this venture is to work, Golden Boy will have to resolve its streaming issues by the time its next Facebook card on September 1 starts. The first card is always the toughest one and I’m certain that we’re far less likely to encounter such issues for that card.
The second goal Golden Boy had for its initial Facebook stream was also a large sticking point among unhappy viewers. Throughout the broadcast, the commentary team would routinely mention comments people left on the live stream. These comments mainly ranged from very positive comments towards Golden Boy or comments on the fight itself. In a vacuum, this is fine, but when watching the stream and hoping the commentary team would speak more on the fight itself, it started to become a bit cumbersome to constantly hear about Facebook comments during the broadcast and sometimes in between rounds of some of the fights.
I understand why the commentary team may have been told to keep speaking positively on the Facebook Watch experience and how it’s free, but it became tiresome to constantly hear. It reminded me of the time WWE was experimenting with implementing the WWE App in the early 2010s. Just like with Golden Boy, WWE’s attempt of constant schilling of its app got old very quickly. It’s not good if the main takeaway of the broadcast are streaming issues and social media integration that felt forced by the commentary team.
Speaking of the commentary team, the main broadcast duo of former WWE announcer and current UFC and Glory Kickboxing announcer Todd Grisham and actor Mario Lopez. Commentary was also panned from fans, but almost all of the criticism came towards Grisham, who never really got into a groove and wasn’t really good at pretty much any point in the broadcast. This is nothing new when it comes to Grisham, who even in his WWE days, was certainly not a good announcer. Lopez, a longtime boxing fan, did well in his role and did provide a good energy to the broadcast, but of course, it’s not hard to look good as a commentator when the only other one is Grisham.
The third member of the broadcast team, actress Rocsi Diaz, mainly did fighter interviews as well as talk about the social media aspect that got widely panned. Diaz herself wasn’t terrible in her role, but throughout the night, you kind of always get the feeling that there are so many other women with far more experience in boxing that would have done a better job in Diaz’s role, such as Michelle Joy Phelps or Cynthia Conte.
The ring announcer for the card was Jeremiah Gallegos, who won the opportunity to be Golden Boy’s ring announcer for these Facebook cards on a contest the promotional company had put out on social media. Gallegos, was by far, the best announcer among all four throughout the night. Even though he doesn’t have a commanding presence if you were to take a look at him because he is smaller than other famous ring announcer such as Michael Buffer and Jimmy Lennon Jr., but Gallegos possesses an incredible booming voice that one could compare to a deeper version of Buffer’s voice in the 1990s when he did boxing and pro wrestling with WCW.
But even with all of its criticisms, mostly rightly so, the actual boxing portion was by far the biggest positive of the entire night. As previously mentioned, this card was no worse than your average ESPN card put together by Golden Boy, so a lot of the undercard fighters either looked good in their fights or had moments where the action was exciting. I certainly give a lot of credit to the matchmaking because it never felt like the action was dull or bad and with the main event being a really solid fight and probably going to end up as one of the boxing fights for the month of August.
The main event saw Diaz defeat Rojas by unanimous decision (115-113, 116-112, 117-111), though it was certainly a very close fight. I had scored the bout 115-113 in favor of Diaz, though no one would consider it a bad score if you were to give it to Rojas. It all came down to what the person scoring found to be more effective: Diaz’s energy excellent combinations which landed on Rojas throughout the fight or Rojas’ power advantage? Evidently, it was Diaz’s energy and success landing his punches that convinced the judges he was the better fighter for that night.
Diaz’s future is uncertain as he said after the fight he would like to rematch Rojas for the title, but also strongly hinted at moving up to super featherweight instead. Diaz called himself a big featherweight and it certainly is true. If Diaz really is going up in weight, he would be joining a loaded 130-pound division that includes the likes of Gervonta Davis, Miguel Berchelt, Alberto Machado, Tevin Farmer and more. Diaz certainly can hang with that crowd, but he will have to be able to bring more power to super featherweight than he had at featherweight to be able to succeed and win a world title.
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