By Chris ‘Polish Hitman’ Morris
“Advertising is to a genuine article what manure is to land, – it largely increases the product.” — P.T. Barnum
“There’s a sucker born every minute” — David Hannum criticizing P.T. Barnum and his customers
“Yesterday, I was lying. Today, I’m telling the truth.” — Bob Arum circa 1981
“That’s why I could never be a fight promoter. They have imaginations that go beyond me.” — Larry Merchant
Four quotes all related to promotion. See the common theme? The job of the promoter, regardless of event, be it concerts, the circus, boxing or otherwise, is to sell tickets and turn a profit. The promoter is also the man who fronts all of the money, therefore taking all of the risk. He and he alone has the very most to lose. So when you see promoters doing their best to sell an event, take it for what’s it’s worth.
When you watch an Axe bodywash commercial, do you really believe that using their product will make women swarm to your ugly mug? Of course not. Take the same stance with boxing promotion. Understand “the hustle” is nothing more than advertising and always remember the live event disclaimer.
The way it works, once a fight has been “made” or contracted, it is the promoter and his team of publicists job to try to come up with an angle to sell said fight to the masses.
This is good for boxing and the health of the sport, if no one’s watching, no one’s fighting. Sometimes the angle is the fight itself. When a fight is a great match-up, it’s an easy sell and fans easily identify these fights. Great match-ups sell themselves, no real promotion or advertising is needed.
Other times, and for various reasons including mandatory defenses and such, the match-up is terrible. Then they have to really work to sell the fight.
Like the match-up this past weekend, Pacquiao vs Algieri. Chris Algieri came out of nowhere and upset the ‘boogeyman’ in Ruslan Provodnikov, who he was brought in as a sacrificial lamb to look fantastic against.
Could and should Top Rank have just went ahead with Provo v Pacquiao as though Algieri didn’t get the nod on the judges scorecards? They did it with Zahir Raheem when he upset Morales, looking to set up the Pacquiao rematch.
Instead, they chose to reward Algieri with the Pacquiao lotto ticket; that was the carrot dangling on a stick to encourage him to take the Provodnikov fight to begin with. I’m okay with that and it’s what really makes boxing special. Nobodies can become somebodies.
So Algieri gave Top Rank some lemons: now, how are they going to “make lemonade” and sell this fight? What angles can they possibly use? The fight itself, sucks. As soon as the advertising campaign looks to reasons to tout the fight outside of the ring, that’s a reason for a red flag. You know at this point the fight is probably not going to be very good, likely non-competitive.
Do you really need some rhetorically red-faced and angry Captain Obvious “ranting” repetitively about how Arum is out to swindle you out of your hard earned dollars?
Of course not.
Arum is simply doing his job as a promoter, selling his product.
“To put ‘lipstick on a pig’ is a rhetorical expression, used to convey the message that making superficial or cosmetic changes is a futile attempt to disguise the true nature of a product” (Wikipedia).
If you are gullible enough to believe a guy famous for the quote, “Yesterday, I was lying. Today, I’m telling the truth”, well, chances are you probably smell like Axe body spray as well. And are very lonely.
Use discretion and common sense before opening your wallet. You have that right. But if you do not choose to pay for the fight, you are not a paying customer and therefore have zero room for criticism. Save it.
Be very wary of anyone who is constantly taking a negative angle on everything boxing-related, including the players. For the fighters to the networks and yes, even the promoters all are very important players in the machine that is boxing. It takes a ton of heavy lifting to put on one of these events with so many moving parts.
Bottom line is, with no promoters taking the risks, we have no sport of boxing. Let’s keep “promoter bashing” to the technique used in molecular biology. Appreciate their value to the sport.
When a boxing critic tries to justify $400K dive jobs on HBO, (when local fighters make $150 per round, in TICKETS), then tries to put out the shooting star that is Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, followed by raking Arum and Top Rank across the coals at every turn, KNOW that there is an agenda behind the writing.
Take it with a grain of salt, just like the promoters and their advertising.
Again, I ask, print these “rants” and fashion a TMT logo at the top and you can then better understand the agenda being pushed onto you in the name of “Boxing’s Independent Media.”
So instead of vilifying Bob Arum and promoters in general, maybe take a second to look at boxing from a promoter’s point of view for a change. How would YOU go about selling this stinker? People tend to hate what they don’t understand. Understand that promoters are exactly that, promoters, and their advertising should mean very little to the fight fan.
Did you hate Vince Shlomi for fast talking and getting you to impulse buy one of those “truly incredible” Sham Wow’s, that work on everything from cars to counter tops and eventually, we found out, hookers? Furthermore, did you blame him, for doing his job well, or yourself for “taking the bait?”
Arum and all promoters are simply doing their best to promote the fights that have been made. The fights made are of another subject, not taken on today. They are simply the Sham Wow guys of the boxing world. Nothing more, nothing less, so take them and their advertising campaigns for what they are worth.
You can also apply this same logic to the commentators on HBO and Showtime, who are the biggest “promoters” of all, as to why they call the fights the way they do. Don’t expect parity from people who have a stake in the winner. It’s that simple. Commentator’s are also selling their product to consumers. No reason to hate if you understand motives.
Boxing is often referred to as the “Theater of the Unknown” and for good reason. Me personally, I buy and watch every fight. I paid for “classics” like Holyfield vs Williams and Savarese vs Buster Douglas and ALL of the Latin Fury cards.
Am I that sucker who is born every minute?
Maybe so, but I have my reason and it comes down to just four simple words and a pair of infamous names in boxing.
Buster Douglas KTFO’d Tyson
I will never ever forget where I was when Buster Douglas, a 42-1 underdog, stopped the indestructible “Iron” Mike Tyson, never. By contrast, Chris Algieri was a 10-1 underdog to win by decision and 12-1 underdog to win by DQ or KO this past weekend.
Many boxing fans on are intelligent people. From the casual observer to the “hard core” fanatic. They don’t need anyone to tell them if a fight is going to be good or not, they get to be the judge and anyone who feels the need to continually tell them about the “hustle” of promotion should be considered insulting their intelligence.
In boxing, believe me, stranger things have happened than Algieri upsetting Pacquiao, and that is why I tune in for ALL of the fights. Therefore I never have to deal with a guilty, “he got me” type hang-over after the fights are done, nor do I have to deal with a “dammit, I missed a barnburner” either.
I tune in for the chance of the unexpected coming to fruition. The unthinkable taking place.
Why do you watch the fights?
By the way, I was at a dorm room at Laramie, Wyoming’s Wyo Tech getting ready to go clubbing, when Douglas upset Tyson: where were you?
If you’re of a certain age, I’ll bet you remember vividly! And if you didn’t tune in because it was called a 42-1 chance of an upset, how mad were you afterward? See my point?
Until next time, keep your hands up, chin down and don’t stop punching ’til the final bell!