It’s hard to escape the idea that, as people who love boxing, we’re on the verge of something sensational, something big.
Boxing has been the easy sport to hit because for so many years it was fraught with problems: the big fights weren’t getting done. There is still no widely instituted anti-doping plan after so many years. Sanctioning bodies frequently hand out championship belts like candy. There is no respected and recognized scoring system used to develop legitimate candidates. The best fighters fight the least, and almost always behind a paywall. Officer has often been horrible; the best officials are aging and there is no training system to replace them.
We could go on and on for days, but you get the idea.
There are so many problems, the big things that are In fact that often occur are obscured: fighting is going on. There is an influx of fantastic young talent being brought into the sport. The overall talent level is at its highest in years. Women’s boxing is on the rise and has proven popular because, well, the best fight the best and try to unify the belts.
Social media, of course, remains one of the biggest problems in sports, as it is in almost every other area of life. United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, one of the world’s leading public health authorities, issued a warning last week about the deleterious impact of social media on the mental health of our young people.
WBC lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury has been a leader in the fight for better mental health care services and has spoken passionately about it on social media. Fury’s work on behalf of people with mental health issues has been phenomenal, and he deserves special kudos for his efforts.
But his use of social media in his own profession has caused problems. Complex and expensive contracts are not best negotiated in a public forum, and when they are, it quickly introduces misinformation into the process. More often than not, it hurts, rather than helps, getting a deal done.
Fury, who holds the WBC and lineal titles, has made more than one video on Instagram talking about his desire to fight unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed title or former unified champion, Anthony Joshua.
Neither of those fights are happening and either is unlikely to happen in the near term. Fury’s social media “updates” certainly haven’t helped the process, especially the ones where he talks about percentages and who deserves what, as he often does.
Boxing got worse at the start of this century when so many elite fighters started demanding rematch clauses and comeback fights in negotiations. They also wanted an extraordinarily high percentage of the gross and thus made it virtually impossible for anyone to make any money. If a promoter and broadcaster can’t make money from sport, what’s the point of continuing to do so?
Fights are at their best when there’s a lot at stake: two elite fighters competing for a respected title, with no save position. A fighter wins, becoming the champion and, at least for a time, the top dog. The other fighter loses and must regroup, find a way back.
When this happens is when fights do the most business.
It is therefore foolish to believe that it is the terms of a rematch clause that have, thus far, prevented an undisputed heavyweight title fight between Fury and Usyk. Without a rematch clause, the stakes would have been higher, but let’s be honest: if it was a good fight, the fans would want to see it again anyway.
I would also like to see Fury fight Joshua. Both are elite fighters, though Fury has the edge in accomplishment and form at this point. They are longtime rivals in the UK, boxing mad, and a fight between them would draw a massive following.
Make sure that this happens.
But deals are often undone when things are said on social media and a small issue turns into something big.
If Fury really wants to fight Usyk and/or Joshua – and I 100% believe he does – then he should drop social media updates until a deal is done and contracts are signed. . Then head to social media and get going, promoting the fight as much as you can.
Social media is an easy way to reach a lot of people, but it’s a hard way to get a deal. So, as difficult as it may be, fighters should hold off on these updates until there is something to announce.