Fightful Boxing Newsletter (8/16) Table of Contents:
- Golden Boy Boxing on Facebook (Page 1)
- BJ Flores vs. Trevor Bryan and the WBA's Too Many Titles Problem (Page 2)
- Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder Negotiations (Page 3)
- Manny Pacquiao's Future And Who His Next Promoter Could Be (Page 4)
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.
BJ Flores vs. Trevor Bryan and the WBA's Too Many Titles Problem
Aside from Golden Boy Boxing’s first card on Facebook Watch, the big story on what was supposed to be a quiet weekend is another example in why the WBA continues to garner public ridicule.
Despite having two world heavyweight champions healthy, active and fighting in title bouts soon, the WBA saw it fit to add a third heavyweight title in the mix: an interim title that absolutely zero people in the world thought was necessary.
As such, the WBA has sanctioned a fight between former cruiserweight title challenger BJ Flores and undefeated fighter Trevor Bryan for the newly-created interim WBA title. The fight was actually originally supposed to be a title eliminator to decide the mandatory challenger to the WBA “regular” heavyweight title being held by Manuel Charr, but days before the fight took place, promoter Don King announced the fight would be for the interim title.
Flores vs. Bryan took place at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona with Bryan knocking down Flores multiple times before ultimately stopping him in the fourth round to claim the title.
Now I get why the WBA sometimes feel the need to add more titles. Some cases, such as the creation of the WBA “regular” welterweight title this past January, made adding another title completely justified. In the case of the welterweight title situation, Keith Thurman, the WBA “super” welterweight champion, has not fought since March 2017 in a unification fight and does not appear like he will be fighting for the next couple of months. In that instance, adding a second title while Thurman gets back into the ring certainly makes sense.
But there are other cases in which more titles sullies the reputation and prestige of some of these world titles. Alberto Machado, the WBA “regular” super featherweight champion, was originally the “super” champion when he knocked out then-champion Jezreel Corrales last October.
Then you have the heavyweight title situation which is really not a situation at all. Anthony Joshua currently holds the WBA “super” title and is defending it in London on September 22 against mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin. Charr is defending his WBA “regular” title, a title that is still in existence due to a complicated court order, against Fres Oquendo, the man with a court-ordered title shot whose last fight was a loss to Ruslan Chagaev in 2014. Charr and Oquendo will fight for the secondary title in Cologne, Germany on September 29.
Therein lies the problem. Where is the need to even have an interim title? When Gilberto Mendoza took the position as the president of the WBA, his top priority was to eliminate many of the organization’s titles so that there is only one WBA world champion per weight class.
Well, let's take a look at how many WBA world champions are in each of boxing's weight classes and see if the organization is still on pace to accomplish the goal they have publicly set out to do:
- Heavyweight: 3
- Cruiserweight: 4
- Light Heavyweight: 1
- Super Middleweight: 2
- Middleweight: 2
- Junior Middleweight: 2
- Welterweight: 2
- Junior Welterweight: 1
- Lightweight: 1
- Super Featherweight: 2
- Featherweight: 3
- Super Bantamweight: 1
- Bantamweight: 3
- Super Flyweight: 1
- Flyweight: 1
- Light Flyweight: 2
- Minimumweight: 1
That totals up to 32 world titles, eight more than the 24 world titles the WBA had at the start of the year. The fact that the WBA has gone from 42 “world” champions in January 2016 to 24 for December 2017 and now back to 32 champions in August 2018 shows the WBA has taken a two steps forward, three steps back.
It’s a large reason as to why public perception of the WBA has waned in the last couple of years. Unless the WBA does a complete mass exodus and eliminate all interim and regular versions of every world title tomorrow, the chances fans and media start to have a positive opinion of the WBA and its “effort” of having one world champion per weight class are very low at this point.
Flores and Bryan represent one of the main problems plaguing the sport which is the issue of too many world titles, an issue that extends beyond the WBA. Having four major governing bodies do not help that issue and in this day and age, the sport is in too deep with the title situations. It’s a remnant of days past when the sport had people with personal agendas that hurt boxing’s integrity and in some ways, personal agendas are still a big reason why the sport is hurting.
Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder Negotiations
If one were to say at the start of the 2018 that Tyson Fury would fight WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder before unified champion Anthony Joshua, that person probably would have been called crazy, but it does appear so.
At this point, everything is looking like a Wilder vs. Fury clash, slowly being built up for years, is set to happen this December in Las Vegas on a Showtime pay-per-view.
Fury, the former unified heavyweight champion, revealed on Twitter that he is in deep negotiations to challenge for Wilder's WBC heavyweight title, shortly after promoter Frank Warren made the revelation in the U.K.
Wilder's schedule is currently open as talks of a possible fight with Joshua to unify all four major world titles and crown the next undisputed heavyweight champion fell through. Wilder still has mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale waiting in the wings, but WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman recently revealed that Wilder was free to choose his next opponent, making it a voluntary defense. Wilder has not fought since stopping Luis Ortiz back in March to retain his WBC title for the seventh time.
Fury is now currently ranked No. 5 in the WBC rankings at heavyweight. Fury recently returned to the ring after two-and-a-half years of not fighting. In his first fight since upsetting Wladimir Klitschko to win the unified WBA, WBO, and IBF titles, Fury quickly dispatched Sefer Seferi after four rounds back in June.
The one obstacle that would prevent the fight from not being made would Fury's upcoming fight this weekend. Currently, Fury has a fight against former European champion and world title challenger Francesco Pianeta scheduled for August 18 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. That fight will be one of the key undercard fights for Carl Frampton vs. Luke Jackson for Frampton's interim WBO featherweight title, but it will no doubt be the most talked about fight coming from Belfast this weekend.
When the comments by Fury and Warren were made, no one would be blamed if people felt a bit trepidatious about the fight actually happening, but when Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza gave an update on the negotiations between Wilder and Fury, it was clear that this fight looked like it would happen.
Espinoza spoke to ESPN and said negotiations have progressed significantly and are very close to a deal. Espinoza said if the fight does indeed happen, it will then be broadcast in the United States as a Showtime-pay-per-view.
“Whether it’s 95 percent or 99 percent, it is very, very close. I think we’ll have paperwork imminently and the plan is for a Showtime pay-per-view — pair it with a really interesting fight. We don’t know what it is yet, but something that will definitely communicate that the fans are getting their money’s worth,” Espinoza said.
This would be surprising considering that Showtime has not done a pay-per-view not involving Floyd Mayweather since 2014 with Canelo Alvarez and now it's planning on having two potential pay-per-view fights by the time 2018 is over: Wilder-Fury and an IBF welterweight title bout between Errol Spence Jr. and Mikey Garcia.
Of course with the Wilder-Fury pay-per-view, this would be the perfect test to see whether or not Wilder is truly a pay-per-view draw and if a fight against Anthony Joshua in 2019 makes financial sense on pay-per-view.
Manny Pacquiao's Future And Who His Next Promoter Could Be
With Manny Pacquiao declaring that he is a free agent and able to talk to any promoter about working towards his next fight, he has undoubtedly attracted the names of many promotional suitors, including British promoter Eddie Hearn and his most famous opponent: Floyd Mayweather Jr.
It’s been three years since Mayweather and Pacquiao had their historic boxing fight, which saw Mayweather come out on top in a fight that broke pay-per-view records. Mayweather has since then fought twice and then retire, transitioning into a full-time promoter and running Mayweather Promotions.
Pacquiao, on the other hand, is still boxing, most recently winning the WBA “regular” welterweight title when he knocked out Lucas Matthysse in July. It was then that Pacquiao said he controls his destiny in regards to working with promoters, which would include Mayweather. In an interview with FightHype.com, Mayweather said he’ll talk to Pacquiao about possibly working with him to get Pacquiao a fight. One fight Mayweather had in mind was Pacquiao taking on current unified WBC and IBF lightweight champion Mikey Garcia.
“Actually I’m going to get on the phone with Pacquiao and get in touch. We can put him in position and get him a fight with good competition so he can fight. I wouldn’t mind making Pacquiao vs. Mikey Garcia. That wouldn’t be bad,” Mayweather said.
Garcia has recently stated his intent on fighting IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. as his next fight in order to win a world title in five different weight classes, joining the likes of Pacquiao, Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya and Amanda Serrano to achieve that feat.
Eddie Hearn is looking to add any and all big free agents out there in boxing, including one Manny Pacquiao. The Matchroom Boxing promoter spoke to Sporting News and revealed that he has been talking with Pacquiao about the possibility of having him fight on the DAZN platform.
"I think Manny Pacquiao is a huge name. He’s undoubtedly towards the backend of his career, but still a huge name. We’d like him on DAZN. We’re talking with him. We’re talking with Manny Pacquiao. Whether it goes anywhere, we’ll see. But, we’re certainly interested to continue those talks," Hearn said.
Hearn also added that he understands a big name like Pacquiao means paying a lot of money just to sign him and that Pacquiao's priorities as a boxer may include fighting outside of the United States where Hearn's partnership with DAZN is solely based in. Pacquiao's last two fights saw fight in Australia where he lost his WBO welterweight belt to Jeff Horn last year and more recently, in Malaysia where he knocked out Lucas Matthysse to win the WBA title, retiring the Argentine boxer.
Despite this, Hearn believes that he has fighters on his roster who could provide the kind of fights Pacquiao is looking for. Some of the names Hearn mentioned include Kell Brook, Jessie Bargas and Amir Khan, whom Pacquiao wanted to fight in the United Arab Emirates in 2017 before the fight fell through.
At this moment, it's too soon to tell who Pacquiao could work with next for his next fight, but it wouldn't surprise me if he chose to work with Top Rank and Bob Arum for his next fight. Pacquiao will have to defend his title at some point next year and with him being able to fight any opponent of his choice and work with any promoter, expect the next few months to simply be Pacquiao negotiating with several suitors. Due to Pacquiao's duties as a senator in the Philippines, we may not see him back in the ring until the end of the year at the earliest.