By Paul Magno | June 25, 2020

Thursday. Thursday. Thursday. Another Thursday is here and, with it, another hefty load of wisdom from the depths of my bulbous, bulging sack. So, let's pull down the bad guys' face masks and make them keep their eyes open. I got another money shot coming their way. This week, we have comments/questions regarding Vaquero Navarrete, a New Normal in boxing, and Fan Unrest.

Done with Boxing

Hey Mr. Magno,

I've been reading your columns for quite some time now and I just wanted to reach out to tell you how much I appreciate them. I just read your last one (Crawford - Love/Hate) where you responded to some negative mail and it made me realize that now might be the time to send you the positive response you deserve. However, my outlook on the sport I've loved nearly my entire life isn't as positive. As you've pointed out many times, I believe the nature of the boxing business has stifled most of the fights the fans want to see.  And while I hate to admit it, I think it's finally pushed me to the point where I'm no longer interested in the sport. Don't get me wrong,  I'll always follow the game to some degree, but the PPV days and daily updates are done for me.  I surely understand the financial side of this and support the fighters ability to earn the money they so rightfully deserve, but 50/50 fights have to happen more than once every five years to maintain an audience. I just wanted to reach out to say I'm glad you're out there trying to hold the power brokers feet to the fire on this issue. Maybe someday I'll return to the fold. Until then, keep doing what you're doing!

-- J.

Hey J.

Thanks for the kind words. I'll keep pounding the drums for as long as someone lets me.

Who can blame you for feeling the way you do? Actually, it's probably the only reasonable (and possibly constructive) response to getting under-served as a consumer. This is no "sky is falling" Chicken Little, "boxing is dying" lament. This is real. The hardcore fans are slowly walking away, casuals are staying away, and new fans are absolutely not being brought in. All of this is for a simple, simple reason-- Good, quality, competitive bouts at the highest levels are not being made. Boxing fans will put up with corruption and incompetence, but not giving them anything to buzz about or anticipate is what will make them quietly slip away and lose interest. This needs to change or this sport is in some deep shit. Manufactured buzz over rumored super-fights that will, realistically, never happen is an insult. The networks/promoters/managers need to figure out a way cooperate and put on some of the big fights fans are clamoring for. Period. Otherwise, the whole ship is going down. 

Vaquero Navarrete and a New Normal?

Hey Paul, I enjoy your work

2 things - 

1)  I love the boxing style and old school attitude of  "Emanuel 'Vaquero' Navarrete "  How far do you think he can go and how popular?

2)  I know it's early but do you think that we may actually get more skillful and action packed fights  with no audience ? Shakur Stevenson was dialed in the other night and looked great. I wonder if this new normal might produce some really good fights ?

Oh yea off topic but as a die-hard Central Florida Bucs fan I have to ask. Brady and Gronk, do we stand a chance ?

Good Health to you and loved ones.

-- John

Hey John.

1) I like Navarrete a lot. The kid stays active and delivers entertaining, quality performances. Since beating Dogboe twice, he hasn't exactly faced top shelf competition. But, the complaints over his level of opposition are a bit silly when you stack his recent body of work up against other world champions. He beat Dogboe back in May of last year and has fought five times since then (with four title defenses). That's definitely an old school approach to staying busy between tough fights. And, of course, I'm sure the pandemic hasn't helped in his effort to piece together a quality defense. He deserves the benefit of the doubt and a stay of execution from the armchair quality-control hangmen. I think he'll end up at 126 sooner rather than later and maybe will soon thereafter compete at 130. I don't know how well he does at higher weights where his power won't be as much of a factor, but his work pace will serve him well. I think a bout with Shakur Stevenson at 126 would be an interesting-as-fuck stylistic match-up, even though I don't believe he can win. In terms of popularity, he's exactly the type of fighter Mexicans and Mexican-Americans love. If Top Rank matches him right, I think he can become a big star among Latino fight fans.

2) I was just thinking about this awhile back. While the star-level of the Top Rank shows has been underwhelming, the quality of the match-ups, for the most part, has been very good.  Unlike Top Rank shows of the past, Arum is actually putting some of his prospects in tough. We've already seen a handful of upsets because of this. Andrew Moloney-Joshua Franco on Tuesday night, for example, was a very good pairing that was much closer to a pick 'em than what the odds showed. I don't think this is a happy coincidence, either. Without the star power from top dogs who've decided to sit out the "no audience" events, quality has to be the selling point. I'm liking these shows. I hope this approach eventually yields better results via ratings because I'd like to see more of it. 

As for the football stuff, I have no idea. I don't really follow it enough to comment intelligently. I'm just a boxing and baseball guy. Go Cubs! 

Stay safe and healthy.

Blame the Networks

Disclaimer: I am a hardcore boxing fan, so I usually  watch almost any boxing card. I can't emphasize enough on the word, almost, because even for a hardcore boxing fan, some cards are hard to watch. The problem the networks don't seem to realize is that there are only around 200,000 of us who would probably pay for a good pay-per-view fight and maybe close to half-a-million, who would watch any fight on regular cable or free broadcast channels, as has been clear with the recent ESPN live fights post-pandemic.  

Writers have expressed this problem constantly, but maybe the networks have to hear and read it from the fans. I blame the networks, they are paying for the product, so they are responsible for the quality of the product they buy and put out to the public, on their platform. 

We all know that the promoter's job is to pay the least amount of money possible to maximize their revenue, so if they receive x amount of money for three to seven years, without quality supervision, what do you think it's going to happen? The promoters are building their fighters using these networks' platform, to a point, where they will have all the leverage, when their current contract expires in three to  five years. ESPN cannot afford to have a Shakur Stevenson, Teofimo Lopez, Crawford fight in another network after they have invested so heavily in them, similar to what happened to Showtime with Fox and DAZN. 

To improve the sport, I believe the networks should demand more quality on the product, that  boxing shows on regular weekdays become a regular practice, during the afternoon in weekends for young viewers to watch who cannot stay up late, and the premium fights on Saturday night available for free to everyone, with the absolute premium on pay-per-view or some sort of subscription. There is enough content to do all of this, the networks have to demand more for their money.

-- Benjamin from Puerto Rico

Hey Benjamin.

Good commentary.

I think there's plenty of blame to go around. What we have to understand, though, is that none of these network guys are "boxing" guys. They tend to rely on the promoters to establish quality control-- and  they don't know enough about the sport and its dynamics to realize that the promoters are all pretty much the flim-flam men who screwed up the sport in the first place. 

The networks need to put some incorruptible quality-control guard dog with expert knowledge of the sport, its business, and its culture in charge of programming. And this person needs to hold feet to the fire when it comes to not only quality control, but also being able to build a cohesive matchmaking strategy that holds fans' interest.

If the networks keep leaving the kids in charge of the proverbial candy store, they'll never succeed with boxing. As you alluded to, the promoters are using the networks right now to build their own stables and eventually walk away with more bankable names for PPV/subscription hustles. They are NOT building up the sport or setting up the networks for success, that's for sure.

Got a question (or hate mail) for Magno’s Bulging Mail Sack? The best of the best gets included in the weekly mailbag segment right here at FightHype. Send your stuff here:

JULY 08, 2020
JULY 07, 2020
JULY 06, 2020
JULY 05, 2020
JULY 04, 2020
JULY 03, 2020
JULY 02, 2020
JULY 01, 2020