Boxing and TV

BLEACHER TALK - Rico S. Navarro (The Freeman) - February 8, 2015 - 12:00am

In the world of pro boxing, who or what controls or manages the way the business of boxing is being run? Is it the group of alphabet boxing organizations like the World Boxing Council, World Boxing Association, World Boxing Organization and International Boxing Federation? The four are recognized as the most respected by all boxing managers, promoters and boxers. Or is it the group of boxing promoters and managers like Top Rank, Golden Boy and Don King Promotions? On the local level, we have ALA Promotions, Elorde, Aljoe Jaro, Saved by the Bell, Sonrise of Pastor Quiboloy and Manny Pinol, and many more. Do the boxers control the way their sport is being played out?

 Some would like to believe that to a certain extent, the different boxing bodies manage the affairs of boxing. After all, these organizations created the set-up to determine champions in the different weight divisions. Thus, managers have their boxers fight for world championships of any of the four bodies. Managers and promoters pay sanction fees just to get a world championship on top of the wheeling and dealing that they have to conduct to get the attention of the boxing officials. Boxers are then at the mercy of the WBOs and WBCs of the world and have to live with it. Without these bodies, it could be impossible for boxers to become champions. In reverse, the promoters and managers have to live with the demands and requirements of all those involved in boxing: from the world boxing bodies to state or government athletic commissions to the TV networks that televise boxing events. An example for us Pinoys is how the WBO has mandated that WBO light flyweight champion Donnie Nietes defend his belt against Francisco Rodriguez in a mandatory defense this year. This will take place after Nietes defends his crown against Luis Ceja on March 28 at the MOA Arena. ALA Promotions and ALA Boxing don’t have a choice but to follow the directive. Disobedience would mean Nietes losing his world title. On the local level, promoters work with the WBO, IBF and WBC to stage regional championships as a stepping stone to world title fights for Pinoy boxers. Again, promoters shell out money and look for partners in TV / broadcast partners who shell out fees to gain the TV rights to these fights. Consequently, TV networks find advertisers and sponsors for these productions. You can thus imagine the amount of revenues that go through these four world organizations that run fights for 17 weight divisions: from 105 pounds to over 200 pounds. The source of funds? Advertisers who pour in money with TV networks who in turn pay TV rights/fees to boxing promoters who stage the boxing fights.

 As we look at the current stalemate of negotiations for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight that is supposed to take place in May, we’re getting to see the big role that the TV networks play in the way boxing is being run. HBO and Showtime have had a huge influence on the careers of Pacquiao and Mayweather, respectively. Both TV giants pay millions of dollars to the Pacman and Mayweather and therefore have a say on who they should fight, when they should fight and even where they should fight. They do this, regardless of what the boxing organizations have to say. At this level, the only thing that matters is what the boxing fans want to watch and this means not only the fans who watch the fights live at the venue, but the millions of viewers all over the world who in turn shell out cold cash to the TV networks just to watch the biggest fights in boxing. If Pacquiao and Mayweather weren’t champions today, they would still be the biggest show in boxing history. In this case, boxing organizations are somehow bending and accommodating whatever the TV networks impose and say. We got a taste of this at the local level when ABS-CBN said that Boom Boom Bautista was still a hot item despite the stall on his development and career. He was even more popular than Nietes at a certain time. And thus, we saw Boom Boom continue fighting; only because the people wanted to watch him fight, live or on TV. If people wanted to watch someone fight, then TV made it happen and got all the sponsors to back them up. It only made sense that advertisers would support a TV coverage of a boxer who the public wanted to see. The Mayweather-Pacquiao case is no different, but this time, two networks are involved: Showtime and HBO are cracking their brains to find ways to get all the revenues from the fight.

 Looking forward, I wouldn’t be surprised if the big TV networks will eventually manage the boxing industry. They will showcase only the boxers who generate the highest numbers in terms of audience, and can even set up its own world champions for weight divisions which have a lot of following. They can even outdo the boxing organizations and completely ignore them if they wanted.


 Time-out: We are asking friends to pray for the late Dennis Alo who passed away earlier in the week. >>> Happy birthday to Dr. Rhoel Dejano and my brother Henry.

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