By Ivan G. Goldman
Tonight’s pay-per-view show is a greedy grab headlined by two guys who both lost their last fight. This is where global corporate gluttony intersects with boxing. We already have to pay extra for Showtime. What do we get for that? The right to watch a Showtime reality series, infomercials touting a pay-per-view card that’s absolutely not worth sixty bucks, the high-def price.
Both HBO and Showtime – along with outfits like Golden Boy, which is lead promoter on this show — need to be disciplined. It wasn’t so long ago that only very elite fighters were on pay-per-view, and even then they took tune-ups that were given away to premium network subscribers. This morphed into a new policy that established pay-per-view economics for a few elite fighters no matter who their opponents were. Floyd Mayweather-versus-Robert Guerrero on pay-per-view? That was a ridiculous con job.
But now we’re at a third stage, a stage where non-elite fighters get sold to us on pay-per-view. Yes, that’s right. Canelo Alvarez isn’t an elite fighter. He’s a relatively popular fighter with skills who might someday develop into an elite fighter. I hope he gets there. But in the meantime he ought to hang in there with $2 million purses fighting on Showtime. He and his entourage should be able to live off that. If he wants to expand his fan base he should be letting more viewers see him fight instead of turning them away at the door.
Then there’s Alfredo Angulo. Not a particularly skilled fighter. Rather slow. Not much footwork. Tends, as I have noted in a previous article, to lead with his face. He’s a decent tune-up opponent and yes, a live underdog for two reasons, one good, one not so good.
First, he’s got a heck of a punch. That’s good. Second, Canelo hasn’t been tested much at an elite level, which means, yes, a face-first slugger has some kind of chance against him. That’s bad when you’re selling the contest on pay-per-view.
If you look at the history of great fights, there’s no solid cause-and-effect connection between paying extra and getting something extra. One of the greatest series of fights we’ve seen in recent years was Rafael Marquez-Israel Vazquez, all given away to Showtime subscribers. Then there was Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo. I was lucky enough to sit in the media section for their first fight, which had one of the most dramatic finishes in the history of the sport. We in the media sat quietly through much of it. We knew we were watching an epic event. And when the referee stopped it with Castillo suddenly helpless on the ropes, I remember that behind me, Showtime’s Steve Farhood, who called fights for the dinosaurs, announced, “That’s the greatest fight I ever saw.” It was free to Showtime subscribers.
The card tonight was just okay to begin with, and it’s actually been taken down a notch because Carlos Molina ran into police trouble, causing the cancellation of his junior middleweight title defense against Jermall Charlo.
The CBS Corporation, which owns Showtime, has a market capitalization of $40 billion. It’s controlled by a bloodless oligarch by the name of Sumner Redstone. He and his family are majority owners of CBS and Viacom, the parent company of MTV, BET, and Paramount Pictures. This octopus also owns a good piece of MovieTickets.com.
Redstone is 90 years old, believed to be worth about $5.8 billion, according to well-connected Forbes magazine and still plotting to get more. He won’t get it from me. Not this time.
Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in 2013 by Potomac Books, a University of Nebraska Press imprint. It can be purchased here.