Technology is a funny thing. By definition, technology is designed to make our lives easier. Tell that to some people. Indeed, an advancement in technology typically grabs the ire of, what I like to call, the old man card. You know the old man card, no matter what the situation, they regurgitate “Back in my day…” In boxing, the old man card is all over social media. You know the guy who posts how much they miss Ali, Frazier, Robinson, Harry Greb, right after they watch a fight today. Puke.
Did anyone ever tell these guys, thanks to technology, there is no need to miss these great fighters? Save for Harry Greb, fights of the guys you loved in your days can be seen through some type of technological advancement. As far as Harry Greb goes, the best you can do is read a book about him, or drool all over his record on boxrec. Both thank to technology by the way. So, we can enjoy the boxers of today and still cherish the ones we remembered when we did not need Viagra. Why not try it and see how it goes? Just a suggestion.
Which is the point of any advancement in technology. Give it a try. This attitude of hating change just because you want to hold on to the old days is mind boggling. I think it might be a disorder, or a disease. I am glad I never suffered from it. But to peel the onion deeper on this dynamic is to take this article in a whole other direction. So, another time folks.
For now, let us talk about this new advancement in technology in boxing that has some people standing on their head. Apps. In particular the apps of ESPN+ and DAZN have led the forefront as a different way to watch boxing. Apps have been an advancement in technology for quite some time, therefore, in a way, I am surprised it has taken this long for Apps to be so prominent in boxing, which, like all sports, depend on eyeball interest.
I do not care to indulge in those old men who gripe about these Apps, maybe because they just do not know how to work the thing, maybe because watching boxing on anything other than a television frightens them, or some other quirky reason. Whatever your reason is to resist, I have no interest in owning it.
What does worry me about these Apps is the potential division of boxing organizations these Apps may create. ESPN+ appears to be for Top Rank fighters. DAZN appears to be for Eddie Hearn and Golden Boy. Then you have Al Haymon and the PBC on Showtime and Fox Sports. That is a lot of division. What are the chances we ever see Terrence Crawford fight a DAZN or PBC fighter? Canelo is locked in on DAZN. If they are only fixing him to face other fighters linked to DAZN, that puts a big hindrance on the selection of fighters to choose as an opponent. And there appears to be many more Rocky Fieldings than Danny Jacobs as options right now.
It is almost as if boxing is becoming a regional sport. The way professional wrestling use to have the WWF, NWA, and AWA back in the days. Wrestlers signed with one of these organizations and they served a certain part of the country. So, as a New Yorker, I had very little chance to see AWA champion Nick Bockwinkel fight the best of the WWF, which was my regional organization. Now, these wrestlers often moved around, and even made cross over appearances around the country; Andre The Giant was a WWF fighter who often went to other regions. But boxers do not have as much autonomy when they are signed with a certain company.
Ironically, the technological advancement of cable television squelched the aforementioned format of wrestling, and the NWA and AWA were big casualties as a result. The fear in boxing is that the causality of these Apps will be eclectic matchups. If Terrence Crawford can only fight other Top Rank fighters and Canelo only those signed with DAZN, well as great as those fighters are, it can get stale pretty fast.
Will that be the case? Boxing fans hope not.
The fans not getting the best fights is not unique in this era of boxing. Not by a long shot. When Marvelous Marvin Hagler beat Alan Minter for the middleweight championship in 1980, he was the only undisputed champion in boxing. And that was when there were only two major belts. Sugar Ray Robinson is the consensus choice as the best fighter pound for pound in boxing history. Well, Mr. Walker Smith Jr. is also an all-time ducker as he would not fight what many people think would have been his toughest challenge, Charley Burley. For years Joe Louis was not allowed to defend his title against a black fighter, and Jack Dempsey either refused to or was not allowed to, depending on what you read. Ah yes, the good old days. I do not know about you, but I with rather deal with what is going on today than that kind of oppression.
What the future holds for Apps in boxing is anyone’s guess. The only thing that is certain is that it is here to stay and will change the sport in some way. It already has. What we as boxing fans must hope for is the awareness of companies like Top Rank and the PBC to know that they must cross over their best fighters to give the fans the best the sport can offer.
The future awaits.