By: Sean Crose
The Super Bowl is insanely popular. There’s a reason for this – people who don’t generally watch football tune in. Of course, die hard football fans have every right to grow aggravated when people who can pretty much care less about the game jabber away throughout the entire event, only to demand complete silence when a new commercial comes on. Any fight fan who has taken part of a huge gathering to celebrate a super fight can relate. The truth, though, is that its casual fans who make the sports world turn. And boxing simply isn’t offering anything for casuals to tune into. Crawford-Spence? Forget about it. Fury-Joshua? Maybe…but maybe not. Oh well.
When boxing conveys dysfunction – and, intentionally or not, the sport is doing just that – people like Jake Paul come in to fill the void. Before we go further with this, however, let’s just admit something outright: that the sport of boxing is in a good place right now. Don’t believe it? Check out some of the up and coming talent that’s exploded onto the scene this year…and don’t forget to check out the current lineup at super flyweight while you’re at it. I think you’ll be impressed.
Still, fighters like Chocolatito Gonzalez and Demetrius Andrade don’t draw in casual fans. Big names do. And, although serious fight fans will tell you big names do not equal big talent, big names are the only proven things that bring in casual fans. And social media star turned pro boxer Jake Paul is a big name. In fact, he entered the sport with a huge built in following. To make matters weigh more in his favor, he found he has something of a talent. He also has what even the most skeptical of observers would have to admit is a serious work ethic. All of this, plus the fact he’s facing mixed martial arts notable Ben Askren in the ring on Saturday, make it easy to understand why this weekend’s Paul-Askren fight is one of the biggest events in boxing this year.
The truth is that, despite what the naysayers may gleefully proclaim, the public desires boxing. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t have coughed up a fortune to see Mike Tyson face Roy Jones in an exhibition bout late last year where both combatants were in their fifties. And it wouldn’t cough up the money it likely will this weekend to see Paul and Askren battle as professional cruiserweights in a scheduled eight rounder. Some may argue that Paul is a sign of the times, but in truth, he’s a reaction to the times. Don’t blame him, Askren, Tyson, or anyone else for filling the void. Ask instead why the void is there to begin with.