Terence “Bud” Crawford and Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. played their part in promoting their undisputed welterweight championship fight on July 29 during a virtual press conference Wednesday.
An outgrowth of necessity due to the pandemic, virtual press conferences for boxing media have become common. They're convenient, they save time and money, and the burden is far easier on the fighters and their teams. They don't always break news, but in some cases, they reveal insights into a fighter's mentality.
Logistics: the PPV telecast begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, and NY Fights recommends access through PPV.com, which offers additional content and live interaction in addition to the blow-by-blow live action.
Not A Sellout Yet
Showtime Boxing's Brian Custer kicked off the event, noting tickets are still available at the T-Mobile Arena through AXS.com. For a fight of this magnitude, it's a bit dismaying.
Meanwhile, the August 12 heavyweight rematch between Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte, announced on Monday, July 10, sold out the 18,000 seats at the O2 Arena in London in two hours.
Crawford: Legacy Secure Without Spence Jr.
Crawford has been criticized for his lack of enthusiasm in promoting a fight. He shouldn't take any heat this time as he cheerfully answered questions, appearing relaxed and confident. He is respectful of Spence Jr. and his accomplishments – to a point.
“With the magnitude and the stage and just everything that's surrounding this fight, yes, I needed Errol. But legacy-wise, I had already accomplished a lot and was already a Hall of Famer.
“This fight puts a stamp on everything that I've accomplished in this sport. People have tried to discredit me for this and that and have been calling for this fight. This solidifies everything. This is the fight that boxing needs,” said Crawford.
Boxing may need the fight, but Crawford emphasized he does not require the fight to secure his legacy. Asked if a victory over Spence Jr. would be the highlight of his boxing career, Crawford barely placed it in the top three. He considers his first championship victory over Ricky Burns of Scotland on March 1, 2014, for the WBO World Lightweight title his top achievement, and the successful unification of the lightweight division as his second. “It has a special place in my heart,” said Crawford of the Burns win.
“I don't need Errol for my legacy. I can ride into the sunset. I already became undisputed, won an ESPY award, won FOTY, two-time lineal champion in two weight classes. This is a cherry on top of my ice cream,” declared Crawford.
Crawford offered a little advice on what needs to be done to build up greater interest in the fight.
Crawford says the promotion is “going great” but says it could be bigger. “Die-hard boxing fans all know about the fight… but if I go to my next-door neighbor's grandma's house, is she gonna know who I am?” Crawford said there needs to be coverage in different outlets.
Boxing Needs Noise Beyond the Echo Chamber
He's absolutely right. The boxing media in the U.S. is an echo chamber, preaching to the converted. If a church wants to put more butts in its seats, they go after the sinners. They've already got the saints.
The target audience among boxing media outlets and social media channels are die-hard fans. They feed the need among those already tuned into the boxing schedule.
To build up interest in a fight in the modern era, the fighters must circulate beyond these confines into spaces and places where general interest sports fans get their information.
ESPN is the top online sports website measured in audience numbers. The following ten most popular websites are in languages other than English, including Spanish and Russian. The following English language site is Yahoo Sports (#12), followed by CBSSports.com (#20), Bleacher Report (#27), DAZN (#37), and The Athletic (#39).
Paramount is the parent company of both CBS and Showtime. Showtime is now bundled online with Paramount+. Crawford plans to attend the Frank Martin vs. Aram Harutyunyan fight in Las Vegas Saturday. Count on Crawford being interviewed during the broadcast, likely by Brian Custer.
But the coverage by CBS Sports is minimal. Brian Campbell and Brent Brookhouse do a fine job, but more prominence is given to Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou this week.
The Athletic has no dedicated beat reporter covering combat sports. The Athletic published a single article on May 25 announcing this bout. Earlier this week, The New York Times reported the staff of The Athletic would take over its sports coverage. The Times owns The Athletic, which is currently losing money.
Editor Greg Rosenstein writes in this article, “The Showtime PPV bout, arguably the biggest that could be made in combat sports today, has been years in the making and features two of the top five pound-for-pound boxers in the world.” But here we are on July 12, and the world doesn't seem to know.
It's been a sensational year for boxing, not counting the moribund heavyweight division. With five months left, 2023 could be boxing's best year in over a decade, since HBO Boxing went out of business and took the mainstream fans with it.
We could whine and grouse about it. Instead, do something about it. Please clue in Grandma and your friends at work. Talk about it somewhere other than Twitter. Spread the news if you want to see more fights like Spence vs. Crawford.