The Beltline: Colonel Chris, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pay Per View War Needs More Spice

FOR a man who has grown into a strategist, Chris Eubank Jnr seems to have a clear goal for himself as he sits in a press conference to announce his game against Liam Smith next year, despite a jacket emblazoned with various symbols and slogans associated with the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) fast food chain.

While, on the one hand, it’s a continuation of the carefree training approach he’s been trying to promote lately, it also provides ammunition for people to shoot in his next battle. it; a fight that many believe is not worthy of the pay-per-view card it will do in eight weeks.

Indeed, in that respect, the hard work has been done. Because, let’s be honest, what is Eubank Jnr compared to Smith if not a delicious, mouthwatering Zinger Burger of a war that sells for a price it doesn’t guarantee, based on its quality? It appeals to the gluttony in all of us, no doubt, based on their respective achievements and current standing in the sport, a match like Eubank Jnr vs. Smith became a pay-per-view mainstream event and never, in the years that have passed, has it been. Fine dining, alas, certainly not.

What it To beThis particular fight, is as good as a inland Fight as you will find these days. It is a war whose appeal lies solely in the stylistic conflict it evokes – as opposed to its status, its meaning, the personalities involved or any relationship between them. – and what can happen when these styles finally come into conflict on January 21. After all, both men like to be aggressive and come to terms with their will. Both are also used to wrestling with opponents, albeit to a certain degree (just below world class).

That style mix promises a good fight, absolutely. However, there was a time when people needed more than the promise of good domestic scrap to sell for pay-per-view, regardless of the power of the surnames involved. There was a time when the pay-per-view opportunity was available not only for the world title fights but also for the big fights, the biggest fights, fights that could only be formed if there were multiple sources of income for both fighters; boxer, i.e. with a history of competing and winning at the highest level; boxers can wear the label “superstar” without being ridiculed or condemned.

Unfortunately, no matter how good they are, Eubank Jnr and Smith both have trouble getting to the next level – Eubank Jnr is world class and Smith is top. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, of course. It also doesn’t detract from their fighting ability. But it certainly gives a reason why not a single man, regardless of their last name or the fighting histories of their respective families, will soon be the focus of a pay-for event. every time you watch.

By doing so, you also run the risk of reducing the quality of the fight. Now, instead of talking about an attractive domestic scrap hard to call, we find ourselves having to evaluate and rate it in the context of it being something more; something bigger than that.

As a pay-per-view service, it must be evaluated accordingly, and when judged on those terms, it falls far short of what we normally expect (or desire). Then suddenly, instead of being a domestic clash to stir the imagination, it became something like a cynical scramble for cash with a forced competition that led to a desperate attempt to sell it as something it didn’t belong to.

Sure enough, Eubank Jnr got the memo. He arrived at Tuesday’s press conference dressed for the occasion and playing the same calm and cool character (something between Keyser Söze and Hannibal Lecter) that he masterfully played alongside Conor Benn before the match. their bad fight on October 8. He promised something special, aka “fun”, and angered Smith by announcing that he was going to join this fight with a billion rate of 50%, about 10% less than what he claims he will need to beat Benn in October.

This, for Eubank Jnr, had the desired effect: it caused Smith to grit his teeth and suffer. More importantly, however, it did create a bit of tension and back and forth between them, which is of course a key ingredient when it comes to selling something that would otherwise be very difficult to sell.

That’s right. Whether we like it or not, Eubank Jnr versus Smith doesn’t have the same appeal – in general – as Eubank Jnr versus Benn. For my money, it might at least be an out-of-the-box battle, but in the pay-per-view arena, there are sometimes factors that outweigh the quality of the game being sold. In the case of Eubank Jnr versus Benn, you not only have a boxer making money off of their father’s name and fame and his past accomplishments, but you have two of them: a hit double. Furthermore, although it is still a bit manufactured and desperate at times, the rivalry between Eubank Jnr and Benn is clearly one with more history and spice than anything Eubank Jnr and Smith have ever seen. could be created in the next few months.

Which begs the question: what exactly does it mean to be a “pay-per-view warrior” in this day and age? Have we, as an industry, regressed to the point where we are now adopting a reality TV model that values ​​name and celebrity power over talent and achievement? Are we, without even knowing it or at least wanting to admit it, have been inspired and transformed by YouTubers and influencers who have recently entered the sport?

Because if we can almost grudgingly accept that a common decoy attraction like Eubank Jnr versus Benn is the pay-per-view standard, then the correct argument for Eubank Jnr versus Smith is what? (Or even Tyson Fury versus Derek Chisora ​​III, which takes place this weekend for an all-time UK PPV price of £26.95.)

Sadly, it seems we’re at a point where some boxers, once told they have pay-per-view caliber, bring this belief to the negotiating table for each and every fight, regardless Tell the opponent and the attraction of the battle. it’s him. Fury, as the heavyweight champion, could perhaps be forgiven for showing such arrogance, however, for someone like Eubank Jnr, one still has to win the world championship. , one has to question whether it is a good thing for him to be promoted in this way. .

After all, what message does that send, both to him and to others without the luxury of having a famous — and therefore brand — relationship that they can ride on? Play that game and you create role models of personalities like Eubank Jnr, Conor Benn and Tommy Fury. Play that game and you’re just highlighting the systemic problems that boxing faces but trying to deny it in favor of selling so-called “big fights” on pay-per-view platforms. different views. That has been going on for a while now, with fear of something that could lead to something constantly bubbling up in the background.

In fact, back in 2014, promoter Eddie Hearn expressed to me his belief that some boxers are being overpaid, as well as his fear that, like anyone Whatever it is in life, the sport will eventually suffer because of its perceived generosity (or perhaps naivety/foolishness). He was right about that, as it turned out, and moreover, his own relationship with pay-per-view, both on Sky Sports and more recently on DAZN, has often been a relationship. confused and sometimes desperate because of the very problems he faces. have seen coming (and some will say created).

However, that shouldn’t overshadow his original point: boxers at the top are actually usually well-paid, just as boxers at the bottom are often better-paid. Belowpay. It’s considered blasphemous to raise this point, let alone agree with it, which is probably what ultimately keeps the matter going. But why, no matter how important, shouldn’t it be said?

As brave as they are, when is the courage of a laureate nothing more than self-serving? They fight for money, just like the rest of us work for money, and choose to do so after considering the considerable danger it poses. They risked their lives, sure, but they didn’t save anyone. Far away from it.

Reflecting society, which boxing has always done, all greed leads to the rich getting richer (both boxers and promoters) and the poor getting poorer and poorer. Meanwhile, it keeps boxing alive. Because of how healthy a sport can be really is that if to convince any half-baked competitors to take on any half-baked challenges, you have to entice them financially with additional income from pay-per-view sales?

That is not a sign of a flourishing sport. That’s a sign of a broken one.


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