If you gladly gobble up garbage like what we saw this past Saturday coming from Madison Square Garden, broadcast by DAZN, the kindest thing I can say about you is that you’re probably a well-meaning, but naïve chump.
Canadian fall guy, Rolls, had his moments against a rusty Golovkin, who had been out of the ring for nine months wrangling a nine-figure deal with streaming service DAZN and pissing on the remaining members of Team Golovkin who got him to the point of being able to sign a nine-figure deal. But, despite the underdog snapping GGG’s head back with a couple of flush shots before being knocked loopy in the fourth round, the matchmaking for the Kazakh KO machine was on-point and Rolls had neither the power nor the overall ability to turn his evening at Madison Square Garden into an Andy Ruiz-type upset.
This was Golovkin’s first bout with new trainer Johnathon Banks, the first since suffering his lone career defeat, and the first of his huge new six-fight deal. If there ever was a moment where pressure might pave the way for an upset, this was it. Except, by design, Rolls would not be able to do it.
As a result, everything played out as it was designed to play out and Golovkin got his soft-touch signing bonus bout, just like manufactured archrival Canelo Alvarez got against Rocky Fielding last December after signing his own deal with DAZN. Essentially an infomercial for the eventual third installment of Canelo-GGG, nothing was ever in doubt, except for how, exactly, Golovkin would put Rolls to sleep.
And you, the fan, had the privilege of paying for it.
The new business model in boxing is not all that different from the one that hobbled the sport for the last several decades—pass the hat to the fans, make them pay for absolutely everything, and give them back as little as permissible.
However, in this new age version of the paywall business model, fans are getting even less than before while the sport reaches an intentionally small, micro-targeted market of loyalist suckers.
DAZN, especially, has introduced the idea of boxing in bulk, delivering scores of lesser fights for below-market prices. At least in the old HBO/Showtime days, subscribers would get two good fights for their money. Nowadays, DAZN delivers an undercard of stinkers before showcasing a wildly-overpaid “star” in a squash or, in the case of the Canelo-Jacobs bout, a tango of nothingness between top-earners playing at 50% speed for fear of ruining future paydays.
Although they’re only about nine months into their business plan, it’s hard to see too much changing, quality-wise, with DAZN. The only changes may involve further tweaks to prices and subscription plans as their payroll starts to weigh heavily on their ability to put on attractive shows.
Despite efforts to paint their service as a new frontier in boxing broadcasting, the reality is that many are still treating it as pay-per-view, coming in and out based on the salability of an upcoming event. They recently adjusted their payment options to accommodate a fan base that was not responding to their hopes of establishing a Netflix-style “let’s sign up and forget about it” customer base. The streaming service reportedly lost a lot of the subscribers who signed up for December’s Canelo-Fielding bout and chances are good that many of those who signed up for a month to get Canelo-Jacobs on May 4 canceled days before Golovkin-Rolls came around.
Yeah, yeah, we got the Ruiz-Joshua upset just last week from DAZN, but we all know that things totally did not turn out the way the company had planned. It was a fluke that, if they had the power to hit a button and reverse, they’d do it without the slightest hesitation.
Next week, ESPN continues with their own boxing in bulk efforts, putting their $100 million fighter Tyson Fury on the ESPN+ app against unknown and irrelevant Tom Schwarz—and allowing you the privilege of paying a subscription fee to see it.
Sticking Fury on a subscription-only streaming app is not exactly the best way to increase his profile in the States, as promoter Bob Arum has claimed the goal would be when it comes to the “Gypsy King.”
More and more, it’s becoming clear that none of this new wave in content delivery is about making things better for fans or growing the sport. Money men have dumped a fortune into the sport, at the feet of just a small handful of fighters/promoters, in an effort to exploit a fan base groomed to be exploited and corral a fairly lawless, disorganized, boss-less sport into becoming exclusive content behind high paywalls.
The only reasonable response from fans to this continued passing of the hat is to find other ways to get their boxing fix. Anyone with the limited tech savvy to sign up and access DAZN and ESPN+ also has the savvy to find all of the streaming app content free online at illicit pirate stream sites.
Blame the boxing businessmen for creating a Robin Hood mentality in fans when it comes to accessing boxing content. Consumers can only be asked to pay so much, so often, for so little before they start feeling entitled to bit of thievery.
Golovkin-Rolls is a perfect example of that. Whether it’s part of a boxing in bulk plan or not, nobody feels good about being asked to pay for something of such inferior quality. Nobody walks away happy from something like this, except those cashing the fat checks given to them by broadcasters willing to run in the red to corner the boxing market.
Until the boxing business fixes itself and its piss-poor treatment of its most loyal fans, the internet pirates and signal thieves may be the fans’ best friends.
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