By Sean Crose
Frank Lotierzo over at The Sweet Science had a pretty good article out the other day pertaining to the Canelo Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo fight. In it, Lotierzo explained that pay per view bouts used to feature major contests between top fighters, whereas today they merely feature a singly celebrity. That’s a pretty distinct difference – and a troubling one.
Lotierzo traces the course of this trend back to when Oscar De La Hoya was dominant. True enough, De La Hoya’s career evolved to the point where all of the man’s fights were exclusively shown on Pay Per View. There were no tune ups. There were no small battles. Every Oscar fight was an event fight. Because every Oscar fight involved Oscar.
And so it is today. Pacquiao fights Rios on pay per view. Mayweather battles Guererro on pay per veiw. And now Canelo is about to face Angulo on pay per view, as well. Canelo-Angulo? On pay per view? It’s still hard for some of us to get our minds around it.
Both men have lost their last bouts, after all. Sure, Angulo was terrific against Erislandy Lara, but he still lost. As for Canelo, well, Floyd took him to school. The young man with the red hair was completely and thoroughly dominated that night last September. Even he himself admits it.
Yet here Canelo is, stepping into the ring as the main attraction in another major pay per view event this weekend. In a fight pretty much every expert in the world expects him to win, no less. Again, it’s not about the fight, it’s about Canelo. The kid’s a celebrity and people are willing pay to see him.
Of course there was a time not so long ago when celebrities were supposed to actually do something. They were supposed to make hit records or star in blockbuster movies. They were supposed to dominate on the basketball court or on the baseball diamond in order to warrant their fame. That, however, is most definitely no longer the case.
In short, we’re living in the Kardashian era, an era where people want to see other people in spite of those other people’s lack of accomplishments. If Kim Kardashian makes untold millions for doing nothing in particular it only makes sense that Canelo Alvarez would be the feature attraction of a pay per view event without having won a single major fight (no, the Austin Trout victory does not constitute a major fight).
Why get mad at Canelo, though? The man may be an enormous celebrity, but he grew up dirt poor and at least works hard. The fault, fellow readers, lies with us. That’s right, it lies with you and I. We pay to see Canelo fight Angulo. Just like we’ll pay to see Mayweather fight Maidana. Why? Truly, I don’t have an answer.
Perhaps we’ve become so celebrity-impressed that we’re all willing to cough up major coin for the mere pleasure of seeing our favorite stars in the ring. Or perhaps we’ve forgotten why we watch boxing to begin with. We’re supposed to watch it to see who wins a sporting event. Is that why we watch so many of these pay per view matches today, however?
There’s a real chance we’ve all been blinded by the dust storm that has been created by America’s great marketing machine. Forget about the military industrial complex. Our country now seems to be ruled largely by the celebrity marketing complex. And it’s reaping the benefits of our blind obedience.
Still, it’s the fans who hold all the cards. We don’t have to purchase every pay per view monstrosity which comes down the pike. We can let the good folks at Golden Boy promotions, for instance, know that Canelo belongs on Showtime unless he’s really challenging himself. Same with Floyd.
Will we rise to the occasion however? Perhaps. I wouldn’t bet money on it though. For there’s a lot of fans out there who put a lot of value in seeing their favorite athlete breeze through an opponent. As Steely Dan once claimed: “the things you think are precious I can’t understand.”