Good Fights, Bad Timing

By Paul Magno on October 28, 2018
Good Fights, Bad Timing
Some cooperation, even among fierce competitors, is smart business. (Amanda Wescott)

Way too often the geniuses behind boxing TV program scheduling force fans into making tough decisions as to which fights to watch live…

Just minutes after Regis Prograis began his masterfully mature domination of former world champ Terry Flanagan on DAZN, the entertaining and well-fought Daniel Jacobs-Sergiy Derevyanchenko bout for the vacant IBF middleweight title kicked off.

If you had decided which fight to watch on a flip of a coin, you would’ve come away a winner no matter what. Both contests were good, solid affairs that satisfied criteria fight fans crave in their boxing matches.

Prograis delivered on the desire to see an emerging star firmly establish himself as a “for real” presence against high level competition. The New Orleans native, fighting in his home town as part of the WBSS junior welterweight tournament, showed that he was more than just a shooting star full of raw talent and athleticism as he picked apart a tough competitor in the UK’s Flanagan, dropping him once en route to wide unanimous decision victory.

Jacobs-Derevyanchenko, meanwhile, was a more competitive affair that showcased the high-end talent and skill of both fighters. In the end, Jacobs was just a bit better, more polished and he came away with the split decision win. With his HBO swan song finished and the IBF strap around his waist, Jacobs is free to slide into a slot at DAZN as Canelo Alvarez’s designated top “big-name” opponent. Derevyanchenko increased his value in defeat, however, proving that he was indeed a top five or top seven middleweight and that he would be a true challenge for anyone at 160.

So, yeah, fight fans watching either fight were likely to come away happy. The problem is that fans should’ve been able to watch BOTH fights live and experience double the positive vibe.

While it’s true that viewers these days take in content differently, doing more after-the-fact watching and engaging in more binge behavior, sports still leans very much on live viewing. The live event in boxing is especially essential. A good part of the magic of prizefighting is in the element of surprise and that “theater of the unexpected” atmosphere created around battle. Watching a fight previously recorded, likely after already having heard the end result and much about the most interesting parts of the contest, is just not as thrilling.

Way too often the geniuses behind boxing TV program scheduling force fans into making tough decisions as to which fights to watch live and which to, maybe, view later. Boxing gets nothing from two network entities being spiteful enough to kamikaze their own programming by keeping it scheduled against a rival boxing show. If anything, both sides suffer from boxing vs. boxing counterprogramming. Already a niche sport with a limited following, this silliness just divides the pool of potential viewers further.

In the particular case of last Saturday, there was no real, pressing need to keep both fight dates for the exact same time. Schedules could’ve been juggled, starting times rearranged. There are always off days and Saturdays where there’s not a world class fight to be found. Just a quick look at the upcoming fight schedule shows some blank space where either of Saturday’s main events could’ve been placed. So what if you’re the network that “blinks” and changes the date of a fight (well in advance)? If you’re a serious boxing business man, it’s worth sacrificing some ego for that chance of reaching a larger audience. A serious boxing business man should also know that a rising tide lifts all boats and increasingly larger audiences will create a wave of interest that works to everyone’s benefit. There’s never any reason for competing cards.

Premium cable rivals HBO and Showtime were famous for booking ridiculously pointless competing cards and the end result was always poorer ratings for both shows. ESPN and DAZN seem all too eager to go along with this self-defeating strategy.

But some cooperation, even among fierce competitors, is smart business.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Regis Prograis vs Terry Flanagan Full Fight HD - 27/10/2018

Fight highlights: Daniel Jacobs vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko (HBO World Championship Boxing)

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  1. fan 06:34am, 10/29/2018

    with all the internet and pay per view, timing is no more a big factor in fan choice.

  2. Ho Lee Chit 05:55am, 10/29/2018

    Title makes me want to pull up that 70’s hit by Dr. John, “Right Place Wrong Time” or another 70’s hit, “Airport”  by Jimmy Hall of Wet Willie singing, “Hey sport you got the right plane baby but the wrong airport.” Keep On Smilin’, brothers.

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