Tim Smith of Haymon Boxing, the ex journo, is now VP of comms for Haymon Boxing, and he appeared on the PBC podcast, to offer up some takes on the company, and what's to come.
Hosts Kenneth Bouhairie and Michael Rosenthal threw Smitty a softball to start, asking him how he thinks the company has done to this point this year, especially in regards to their first year of their deal with FOX.
Hey, this is the age we are in, brands do so much content production in house now, so it is what it is. The queries got more challenging as the session progressed, by the way….
Smith said that yes, “it is a work in progress,” over at Fox, so it's not like they were all just giving each other A pluses and calling it a day.
The ex NY Times and NY Daily News-er said that he's seen a buzz buildup surrounding Errol Spence, and informed or reminded us that Spence has a bout coming up, in September, against Shawn Porter. Shoulder programming from the Fox gang has helped build that buzz, he said.
I was more so looking for a news tidbit, though, so I listened on.
–Bouhairie asked what the stakes are, and what the winner might be doing. The possibilities are endless, within the PBC sphere, he said, and he mentioned old dogs and newer talents, like a Jamal James.
“There's a wealth of fights you can make, there's enough to keep these guys for the next couple of years, if they wanna stay busy,” Smith said.
–Rosenthal said “in a perfect world” Spence vs. Porter will be a great rumble and then a rematch would be wondrous. Smith paused and then said sure, yep, rematches can be nice.
–They do ten shows a year on Fox, 12 on FS1 and he thinks 12 on Showtime, annually, Smitty said, so they parcel it out over the year, and usually August is a slower month. “It seems a natural time to give everybody a break,” but fall and winter will be juicy, he shared. “We're gonna end the year pretty strong.”
–And will PBC be doing more things with Showtime? Ask Stephen Espinoza, Smith said…but yes, he thinks more PBC stuff will drop over there. “We'll see,” he said, reverting to a bit of a vague POV. Ask Espinoza, he repeated…because he chooses what to buy and showcase.
–Smith said after Labor Day we should probably be hearing about some deets on the Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz rematch. He think Wilder could well take care of business in a “definitive” way. He called the first scrap a “high wire act,” and the seventh round had Wilder fans worried. “That's a compelling reason” to do a rematch, the VP told the hosts and listeners. “Ortiz isn't a pushover” and “anything can happen,” said Bouhairie, and then he asked if the date for a Wilder versus Tyson Fury rematch was set. Feb 22? Maybe…but things have to fall into place, said Smith. He recalled that this sport changes on a dime, and upsets happen…so it is wiser to not plan too far in advance. Spoken like a vet in the sphere…
—Smith said he isn't sure what is next for Mikey Garcia, even what weight he might work at. Danny Garcia is weighing options, will want to see how Spence vs. Porter plays out. He'd like to be first in line to work off that scrap, Smith said…but maybe a rust shedder first would occur. “We do some dates that we could work around,” the comms guy stated. All these cats should stay in shape, stay ready to rumble…Like, see how Caleb Truax was hurt and then Alfredo Angulo stepped in, and will battle Peter Quillin.
–Rosenthal asked about other rematches..what about the Charlo vs Harrison 2 talk? No date set for that one, Smith said and Hurd vs J Rock 2 are ready, so one or both will occur this year.
–Rosenthal then lobbed a softball to Smith, asking the VP about the columnist for the LA Times who opined that rock is dead, I mean, boxing is dead. Nah…Smith said that the sport is doing OK, and cited some bouts for PBC that were fan friendly rumbles. “We've had several fights” that were “very action packed, good fights,” and he said the Fox deal has worked well for PBC. More eyeballs have been summoned and buzz, too, what with Andy Ruiz‘ upset special over Anthony Joshua. He said he looks at it from the PBC POV, and he noted that some of their stars have gloved up often, have been active, and their fights have been solid. He said all told it's been a good year all around, and people are making great bank. PBC got slammed for “over paying” a few years ago, but now money is flowing freely…so, plenty of evidence to discount that Times opinion piece. He did pretty well with that softball. “I'm in the PBC bubble,” he noted, and give him a point for honesty. Elsewhere, some fighters aren't getting the fights they wanted, he continued, and then stayed in the PBC lane, and lauded the construct that has boxing back on free TV more so. Bouhairie moved the ball forward, and said do maybe promotional beefs keep some of those must have fights from being made? Smith said warring parties can and do come together to get ‘er done, he said. But what about a Crawford vs Spence fight, Bouhairie countered. Smith said hey, the Wilder vs Fury 2 can get made, by rival platformers. But what if Crawford and Spence are wanting, say, ten million each. “Who is going to pay a twenty million dollar license fee for that fight, that's a big number even for big spenders,” he said. BUT…but if you keep building it, if, maybe, a Spence becomes a unified titlist…then down the line a bit, it becomes sort of a Hearns-Leonard type tussle. Neither man has gotten to that level, where those guys were. Crawford needs to beef up the resume, he continued…and then it would become a “mega event.”
Decent points made…but I'd hop in and say there is something to be made for guys fighting each other in their primes, and not fall prey to over-marination. “Am I missing something from a business standpoint,” Smith asked rhetorically. No diss to hard-cores…but “we want other people to come in to the tent,” he offered. The casuals and rare to the table types will come round when more marination occurs, Smith said. Can't compare a Spence vs Crawford scrap to a Trinidad vs. De La Hoya faceoff, in his mind. “People knew about those guys,” said Smith.
–Bouhairie did well, when he asked about the PPV proliferation, and the move away from “Free Boxing 4 All.”
“We're not putting everything on PPV,” Smith said. Three of 18 cards on PPV, not a bad ratio…and the undercards are good, he pointed out. The cards and fights on Fox have been solid, he declared. “You can't have everything,” he said, noting he wishes he looked like Denzel Washington.
And the fighters want to get those juicy paydays…and sometimes PPV is the only way to get to that number. “I think boxing fans more than anybody else understand” that PPV pots trickle down well to the boxers, Smith said, before moving on to other subjects.
—Smith was asked about sentiment aimed versus PBC…in context of their original model of doing time buys to gain purchase into the arena. Yeah, some people snipe away…but PBC wants to pay the fighters well, and give good product to watchers. And different models do that different ways. He said he has never understood why some fans and media are so focused on how the fights get to the ring. Why not focus more on the fighters being paid well, and the fights…unless you have a personal bone to pick, more so. “As a consumer, do you really care how hot dogs are made if you're eating it on the fourth of July,” he said…excepting Hebrew Nationals‘ formulation.
–Will there be overlap, some integration of WWE and PBC? Yes indeed, integration happens at Fox…You've seen fighters folded into NFL content. And WWE and baseball playoffs, you will see fighters presenting themselves in those milieus.
—Smith joked that as long as he doesn't get fired, he will be back rapping with those lads, maybe next month.