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The Times Aren’t-A-Changing, They’ve Already Changed for Boxing

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The Times Aren’t-A-Changing, They’ve Already Changed for Boxing Media

Los Angeles, (May 3, 2018)- On April 23rd the Chicago Sun Times posted a blank front page to their print and online outlet in an effort to bolster subscribers. The symbolic attempt was a plea to the public that truthful journalism comes at a price, that a world without the Sun Times is somehow a world devoid of impactful and honest journalism.

Bullshit.

That’s right I said it.

For years a silent battle has been waged behind the scenes of every major sporting and political event the public doesn’t see. Or maybe, they see it better than everyone fighting to get the next quote or story than the participants of this invisible battle when they view, click, like, and swipe away at the results of the behind the scenes carnage.

Fighting for live quotes during a media scrum at the recent Golovkin vs. Martirosyan press conference I thought back to the Sun Times blank page and had an epiphany. The scrum is where the meats at.

The meat

The story, the real news, the off hand comments and color remarks that come across as genuine from fighters captured by the perceived secondary low-level boxing media is the story.

No sit down interviews. No one on one specials. No heartfelt documentaries.

Just millions of views and viral clips.

Ironically the main stream of boxing media granted full access for their perceived reach and credibility, doesn’t hold the power it once used to in a sport that has become niche 363 days a year. Replaced by a dearth of social media accounts and YouTube personalities the main stream of boxing news media can’t compete with the onslaught of 24/7 coverage from the new era of boxing media. Aside from Cinco De Mayo and September 16th the main stream of boxing media is all but gone from the boxing world.

Media absence in boxing is a slap in the face to the millions of boxing fans who often don’t consider the amount of investment by major media outlets to cover main-stream sports like football, baseball, and basketball.

“We were not competing with football as you see it today. We weren’t competing with basketball as you see it today. Frankly in the 80’s boxing was still a major sport.” Main Events CEO Kathy Duva told me at a media luncheon back in February. “it all changed when major media outlets paid exorbitant rights fees for those sports in the 80’s and suddenly had no money left for boxing”.

Bingo.

The major outlets aren’t single entrepreneurs navigating their way through what brings the most clicks or likes to their niche webpage or YouTube channel. They’re protecting the investment made to cover the sports earning their rights fees shelled out to the tune of over a billion dollars.

Who’s who in the zoo

In January of 2016 I wrote about the rise of Social Media correspondents and differences between the new era of boxing journalists and established elite circles titled Social Media and the Underground Battle between Online and Mainstream Boxing Journalism for InstantBoxing.com. I quoted the main stream members of boxing media as “the shapers of boxing dialogue, a simple tweet from a main-stream member of the boxing news world can shape public opinion or be taken at face value by the masses, regardless of factual basis.”

Not anymore.

The way fans consume boxing has changed, as have their perceptions. Once upon a time if it were in the paper or on the news it was true.

Not anymore.

Now, if a fighter or promoter says it into the $199 camcorder of a YouTube entrepreneur its true.

All Likes Matter

Established members of the online or digital boxing circles deemed “social media” or “low level” by main stream organizations with budgets, often have larger followings or viewership than the decades old main stream outlets with advertising budgets and financial backing.

Fight Hub TV on YouTube boasts a massive 362,800 subscribers. Frequently posting multiple times a week, Fight Hub can achieve over a million views during a major event with name brand boxing stars.

That’s a lot of eyeballs.

At an incredibly small fraction of the cost, Fight Hub TV and its creator Marcos Villegas often destroy boxing news coverage ratings and viewership from major outlets.

“In terms of access the traditional print guys are given the ability to break new news.” Marcos told me during a phone interview.

But to a smaller audience.

In perspective, the LA Times boasted 100,000 digital subscribers in September 2017. Less than one third of Fight Hub TV, yet frequently at events Marcos Villegas fights amongst the scrum for quotes and clips while the Times reporter is granted one on one exclusivity.

In comparison that’s 362,800 subscribers dedicated to the one subject of boxing versus 100,000 dedicated to general news.

But its a brand name so that makes its less views better right?

There’s professional, and then there’s not

Old school boxing promotion public relations teams who’ve been marketing boxing for decades, are prone to choose the brand name of main stream media when making quick decisions on access. Leaving digital media professionals out in the cold.

In 2016 I wrote about the lack of professionalism or adherence to journalistic integrity standards set forth by organizations like the Society of Professional Journalists. Often social media contributors have no formal education in journalism and conduct themselves unprofessionally. Forming a perception that all online media is of the same ilk.

During a major event like Cinco de Mayo fight week in Las Vegas the number of “media contributors” is enormous. At its conclusion a majority of media attendees are not to be seen in boxing until the next major event.

Including a majority of social media contributors.

“It goes both ways. Even the major outlets only come out to the big events; and you have us, the digital channels keeping the sport alive. Keeping it relevant, all year long.” said Marcos during the interview.

The most expensive niche

Boxing is now shown on so many digital platforms that maintaining a main stream media presence becomes a challenge. Adam Abramowitz from saturdaynightboxing.com and contributor to The Ring Magazine made perfect sense tweeting  “Within three years, there will probably be six different apps to watch boxing, probably costing fans an additional $30 a month ($360 a year), which doesn’t even include costs for basic and premium cable. Tell me how this is progress.”



Abramowitz’s tweet shows the fan’s plight and without doing so it describes their reason for obtaining boxing news from platforms like YouTube and Facebook. They’re already watching the fights there, and have been receiving news from sources like Fight Hub TV for free.

So why even fight through all the regular news and political morass associated with a main stream outlet? Why go to juggernauts ESPN or Fox-Sports when the only coverage of a small to large boxing event barely draws a minor headline and a generic one or two paragraph article.

YouTube will give them a direct interview with the fighter after the fight.

Straight from a $199 camcorder.

Not bad for a free subscription.

No blank pages, no guilt for not paying for the video clip. Just real honest boxing news with integrity.

For millions to watch.

The Pre-Wrap: Golovkin vs Martirosyan

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About Albert Baker

Creator/Producer/Director of Under the Hand Wraps and owner of underthehandwraps.com. Albert Baker is still the Senior US Writer at InstantBoxing.com and is based in Los Angeles.

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9 Comments

  1. As a former full time professional journalist and member of the Society of Professional Journalists and past president/mutli-decade board member of the San Diego Press Club, I hardly know where to begin other than to say – YES, THIS! Now I’m a part-time boxing writer for a national online publication and participate in podcasts and online chats. My full time job? Making real money running my own consulting firm. WE are the boxing media, like it or not. My big gripe? Very few of the new generation follow solid priniciples of journalism and SPJ ethics. You get a lot of commentary positioned as “coverage.” Nope, they are two different things. There’s a place for fact and for opinion, but let’s not confuse the two.

    • Albert Baker

      2018-05-04 at 9:42 am

      Thank you Gayle! There’s a new day coming!

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