By Charles Glover Jr.
While boxing continues to see record breaking pay-per-view numbers for main attraction Floyd Mayweather, the sport is still struggling to regain the interest it had decades ago. Only a handful of boxing superstars can attract large pay-per-view numbers, but pay-per-view fights receive the most attention in the sports media market.
The problem with boxing’s current marketing strategy is the lack of promotion for rising stars. The established superstars in boxing like Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, and the aforementioned Mayweather, earned their reputation from fighting a long list of reputable fighters. In boxing, like politics, name recognition sells more than anything else. The former pay-per-view model helped grow the reputation of unknown fighters as they fought on the undercard before the main event was shown. If they excelled in those moments, the extra exposure would help them make a name for themselves.
The problem now is boxers that lack do name recognition do not get the opportunity to fight on the undercard of the pay-per-view card as often as in the past. For example, HBO Pay-Per-View will be the host station for the Manny Pacquiao versus Brandon Rios fight on November 23, 2013. Pacquiao is the second biggest pay-per-view draw in boxing at this time (Mayweather is first) so the numbers will likely be good. However, HBO aired excellent fights this past weekend and will feature another excellent bout this weekend.
Nonito Donaire, an exciting Filipino fighter with a good fan base knocked out bruiser Vic Darchinyan. Additionally, rising star Mikey Garcia, a Mexican-American fighter with exceptional knockout power, displayed that power to win a vacant title against highly touted Puerto-Rican fighter Rocky Martinez. This weekend, top pound-for-pound and undefeated fighter Andre Ward will come back from a year-long injury layoff to assert his dominance in his sport against the very skilled and also unbeaten Edwin Rodriguez.
In the past, HBO PPV would have combined these fights to make an entertaining and exciting card. That would encourage the casual fan to spend the money not just to see the main event, but also the rising stars in boxing. HBO is far from being the only culprit in this problem in marketing, but this month on HBO will feature several boxers that would have benefited from the extra exposure the Pacquiao pey-per-view would provide. Going forward, boxing would benefit from consolidating events and combining fight cards which should generate larger purses for the fights. The extra money in the purses would help market the fight on a broader level, which would generate a greater interest in a broader range of boxers.
Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant.