Boxing is more divided than ever, but so is the world.
Boxing is more divided than ever, but so is the world.
No matter what political stance you have, or what boxing promoter you like, it is more than likely pundits from both sides tend to be too much for the average person that considers themselves a centrist with leaning views in boxing or politics for that matter. In short, we live in a world in which headlines are bigger, the message is dumbed-down and sex appeal is sold. The information is short, but the pictures are big, the video is flashy and the engagements of the post are all the bosses are talking about.
It is no surprise that in such a world, opinions are not heard, discussion, dialogues, and conversations are mostly avoided, and have been replaced with namecalling, avoidance of answering questions altogether and blocking opinions different than your own.
So how did we get here?
I would point to 2008 as the starting point of the modern era. That was when Facebook rose in power and started to become a news source, with Twitter and Instagram following behind them in the years to come. The beauty of social media was you could find content strictly based on your needs, the downside you could literally live in a world of your own opinion, only watching and reading that same opinion, and denouncing anything other than what you think, rather than having deep reflections on issues you find troubling and why they trouble you.
In boxing, we have a team dynamic now. The culture of boxing has shifted away from being a fan of boxing and now is about being loyal to a boxing promoter whether it is Top Rank, Matchroom, Golden Boy or the PBC universe. Not unlike how I am a fan of the San Francisco Giants, but not the MLB, I see a lot of people say they like “pick a promoter”, but dislike PBC (this is a popular opinion amongst loud social media voices). Which is sad since Errol Spence Jr. and Deontay Wilder rose to stardom in 2019, on the channel, as well as Julian “J-Rock” Williams crafted the most hear-whelming story, yet when you look at boxing awards, this view seems to be echoed as these accomplishments are not seeming to get as much recognition, or even a nomination at times, which is odd.
This year was a boxing boom!
In fact, in 2019, we had a ton of boxing. So much, I missed a ton of it, since I have a life outside of boxing, and my life will not be sacrificed to solely watch boxing, unless it is a must-see event, I know the fighter or I am being paid in some capacity for the fight. This might be an unpopular opinion, but it helps me avoid burn-out, plus I enjoy meeting and filming developing fighters, more anyway.
So why do we see such a divide? Some of this dynamic could simply be, that with forms of price points for each promoter whether it is the month-to-month or yearly paywall of DAZN, ESPN/ESPN+ subscription and cable service or FOX cable package and pay-per-view, it cost roughly $2,000 dollars in fees this year to watch boxing, and that is a lot to spend in a time in which a lot of people are not getting paid livable wages. This doesn’t count expenditures if you’d go see an event live as well.
So could it simply be with the overall cost and marketing of each network and promoter the fans, have chosen to “pick a side” to make their purchase more meaningful and to align themselves with one brand’s identity?
Another thing to consider is where journalism has gone. In this past decade, most newspapers went by the wayside, and the written word has gone to background compared to video and/podcasts. The advent of social media stars brought about another thing as well, “Click Bait”. Although it has always been there, in the last decade, extremely ideologies have overtaken the space of all media outlets, making a lot of content on all subjects unlistenable. Just look at YouTube for prime example with extreme titles, an enticing picture on the video that makes you want to click and basically a wormhole of an ideology waiting to draw you in.
In boxing we saw the rise of journalists with blatant agendas, pitting like-minded people against one another by simply making people angry, and making money off their angry, or the joy of using these written words to anger someone else. It begs the question, how many people genuinely enjoy boxing since the child-like joy of past writers seems gone, and in its place are handheld video interviews with seemingly the same words as a press release since to the media after the fight.
The new normal is “hyper-real”. People give opinions closer to those who resemble conversations with your neighbor, bartender or barber is now the new normal that people are looking for in terms of news. Life is hard, opinions are different, and not everyone will get along with everyone.
Maybe that is why we have become more divided than ever, less listening – just a need to be right, by some, if not all. Often rather than conversations, quick blocking, trolling or insulting have become the new stance of dialogue.
I can’t lie, at times, I am the problem as well.
As a boxer, you’re the ultimate outcast, someone who defies social norms but gets paid for a craft that is typically called a felony in any other walk of life, or at any other time and place. It is only natural that you’d see the need to be right by some since so many haven’t heard positive words for a great while, if ever.
The problem is, I am seeing more taunting, dividing, and prideful opinions than I am seeing debates or rhetoric. Boxing as we closed the last decade had more action in the ring than I can remember, but it was followed by obscure hot-takes, dumbing down fights that impacted society as a whole, but were of a fighter who that media outlet didn’t like or even worse belittling or mockery of a whole sub-section of fans.
It is no wonder why boxing doesn’t get any more fans since for being such an inclusive and transformative sport in the gyms, as a professional sport, we’re the most exclusive, big-headed group of individuals who take ourselves too seriously over a fist-fight and probably scare off quite a few fans, by our own insecurities disguised as relaying knowledge.
As we head into the new decade, I just hope we start to become more united than divided, that goes for a sport and as a country as a whole.