Eddie Hearn reacts to Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren: This will become the Norm unless we make big fights
By Allan Fox: Promoter Eddie Hearn believes that last Saturday’s celebrity boxing match between YouTuber Jake Paul and washed-up MMA fighter Ben Askren could become the trend for the sport unless the fighters and their promoters start putting together compelling fights.
Last Saturday’s celebrity fight between cruiserweight Jake Paul (3-0, 3 KOs) and Askren (0-1) pulled in 1.5 million pay-per-view buys on Triller PPV from the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta. Askren was blasted out in one round in a fight that looked like could of woeful amateurs, and yet it was pay-per-view.
Even Canelo Alvarez, North America’s most popular boxer, couldn’t pull in 1.5 million buys against a guy like Askren. Having millions of followers on social media now has tilted the ballfield, giving a tremendous advantage to Jake & Logan Paul, as well as Ryan Garcia.
Having millions of followers allows those three can put themselves in front of the talented boxers in the sport.
To some, it’s depressing how boxing is being reduced to poor mismatches involving fighters with no skills in matches with no sporting value.
Jake and brother Logan Paul use their massive social media following to hustle fights, giving the fans a poor product to watch. With the Paul brothers’ millions of followers, they’ve been able to ensnare casual boxing fans.
With their huge social media following, the Paul brothers can advertise their pay-per-view fights directly to the fans.
Regular boxers don’t have that kind of reach on social because they don’t have all day long to put together entertainment for their follower like the Paul brothers.
For the enablers of what the Paul brothers are doing, they see it as a good thing because it will potentially draw more fans to the sport of boxing.
Hearn warns the boxing world
“Unless we start making the big fights, this is going to become more of the norm,” said Eddie Hearn to DAZN Boxing Show. “For all those sitting at home moaning and fighters, yeah, well guess what, you’re gonna have to step up and have big, compelling fights.”
Hearn didn’t mention any names, but many fans would like to see guys like Ryan Garcia, Gennadiy Golovkin, Jermall Charlo, Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney, and Errol Spence Jr take risks.
Even the great Canelo Alvarez seems to be veering away from dangerous fights, choosing instead to unify the 168-lb division against the weak champions.
The problem is that both the promoters and the top fighters often show no interest in taking risky fights. Boxing isn’t like the NFL, where teams are FORCED to compete. In boxing, the promoters steer their fighters around risky fights and then put them in with a vulnerable paper champion to have a good chance of winning a belt.
Once the fighters become champions, they become risk-averse and milk their titles against mediocre opposition.
When boxers become millionaires, they stop taking risks and avoid hungry young fighters that could give them a proper test. We haven’t seen Golovkin take a risky fight since his match with Canelo in 2018. For his part, Canelo hasn’t fought a good opponent since his rematch with GGG.
Sanctioning bodies like the World Boxing Council unwittingly helps popular champions by giving them the Franchise tag to NEVER have to make mandatory defenses.
In other words, they can cherry-pick whoever they want while calling themselves a ‘champion.’
With their fights being such low-quality affairs, it may have the reverse effect by repelling fans away, as it makes a complete mockery of the sport.
Having millions of followers allows Jake and Logan to pull in fans that otherwise would have never heard of their fights and wouldn’t be worse for it after wasting their money purchasing them.
Jake vs. Asken outperformed other boxing events
“If you want to become a star in boxing, this is how you do it. You have these mega-events,” said Chris Mannix to DAZN. “There were three fight cards on Saturday.
“The one that got the most eyeballs, the most attention, was the one that didn’t involve any real boxers, at least not at the top of the card.
“Jake Paul against Ben Askren dominated the conversation all day Saturday, more than Andrade against Williams, more than Tony Harrison against Peralta.
“That was the big event. If you’re boxers, the solution is not to grow your social media platform. That’s what Claressa Shields suggested on Twitter on Sunday afternoon. That is not the answer.
You are not going to be an influencer if you are not a boxer. How you become a mainstream star is exactly how all the old fighters did, how Sugar Ray Leonard did, how Marvin Hagler did, how Mike Tyson did.
You do it by fighting the very best by putting yourself in these marquee fights that everybody is talking about, and everybody winds up watching. Not just once every three years.
“One, two, three times in a calendar year. Boxers don’t do that right now. The solution is not to grow your fanbase on Twitter and Instagram. the solution is when there is a big opportunity, going out and making big fights.”
The reason the Jake vs. Askren fight event dominated the traditional boxing cards last weekend is because of the huge social media following by Paul and his brother Logan.
Fighters like Tony Harrison and Demetrius Andrade didn’t have the advantage of advertising their fights to millions of social media followers as Jake did.
It doesn’t matter that their fighters were much more interesting on paper. They didn’t have the followers that Jake and his brother Logan. Hence, they weren’t able to advertise their fights to millions of people.
Huge talent not required if you have social media followers
“You just mentioned the old greats of the past, but I hate to sound like an old guy in the room,” said Mora. “A lot of these fighters want to be social media influencers now.
“Jake Paul, Logan Paul, and all these Tik Tok stars, they don’t have a big talent. they have a following, but they’re not fighters.
“Fighters can’t pretend that they’re influencers because they need to concentrate on being champions, and the only way to do that is to inspire, not influence.
The only way to do that is by beating and taking on the biggest challenges. Everyone is crossed between being a Tik Tok star and a world champion.
“You can’t be both. Social media is a good tool to use, but it’s one tool in many. You need to take care of business inside the ring. What Claressa Shields said, yeah, there’s truth to it.
“You can use it as a promotional tool to market yourself, to build your brand. But you also have to take care of business as you said. The only way you do that is inside the ring, trying to fight the best.
“Then you can promote yourself on social media doing all the rest of the stuff. Without fighting, you can’t be an influencer. You’ve got to inspire, not influence.
“I’m so glad that social media wasn’t around when you were at the top of your game because you would have been obnoxious,” said Mannix about Mora.
“I would have had millions of followers,” said Mora. “12 million people watched me win ‘The Contender,’ Mannix. Can you imagine 12 million followers on my Twitter disposal?”
“That’s not how it works,” said Mannix. “You don’t get everybody that is watching.”
Talent isn’t required if you have a huge following on social media. Look at Ryan Garcia. He’s a good fighter, but he’s not on the level of some of the guys at 135, and yet he’s arguably more popular because of his millions of followers.
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