In the past few years, especially during the pandemic, there has been an increase in people consuming digital media in the form of streaming apps. The sport of boxing has been slower than others when it comes to this, but as of late, it has picked up on the idea of utilizing that option more so that there are more ways to absorb the content wherever you may be. ESPN has the Plus, FOX has the FOX Sports App, Showtime the Showtime Anywhere app, Triller Fight Club, and finally we have DAZN, which are all players in the boxing streaming world. Let’s not forget companies like Linacre Media, who stream club shows for smaller promoters.
A few weeks ago, we saw the much-anticipated launch of ProBox TV, founded by Garry Jonas, the founder and CEO of Iron Mike productions, in partnership with Roy Jones Jr, Antonio Tarver, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Paulie Malignaggi.
Just like anything new that is introduced to the boxing world for the first time, the launch came with some intrigued while others rolled their eyes. It’s hard to get behind another streaming app these days as there are so many available, and with the lack of success that Triller has seen makes people wonder if this app is going to see longevity.
One of the differences going into the launch of this app versus others in the past is that there are real boxing people involved. The level of experience is there, from communications to producers of shoulder programming and even the CEO himself all have years of experience in the boxing sphere. This is not a situation where you take people from multiple spaces that have never worked in boxing and put them together to produce and host an event. This is a more refined product, and a significant amount of thought is put into everything from the podcasts, featuring those partners, to matchmaking. I say this watching it from the surface and the lead-up to their first event. The real question will be whether the execution portion of it will match the level of expectation set by those involved.
The first test will be their inaugural event on Friday night, which is headlined by light heavyweight Fanlong Meng (17-0), putting his undefeated record on the line against former world champion Jean Pascal (35-6-1).
Meng is rated #1 in the IBF, and with the Arthur Beterbiev vs. Joe Smith Jr. fight happening next month, Fanlong has the opportunity to force that mandatory shot with a win on Friday.
Jean Pascal, age 39, is an interesting story as he last fought in December 2019. Pascal has been inactive due to testing positive for more than one banned substance, prior to a planned rematch against Badou Jack after they battled Dec. 28, 2019. Although he has been inactive, Pascal is always game and will be considered a gatekeeper of sorts for Meng to see if he is ready for the next level.
There is some irony in having Pascal on the main event slot as the ProBox venue is part of a rehab facility called “White Sands.” This is not to say that Pascal was in rehab, but his career and the credibility that comes with it certainly is. You cannot right the wrongs of the past, but you can start building your credibility back the minute you get an opportunity to do so, and for Pascal, the time is now.
For 34 year old Fanlong Meng, this is a chance to get his name out there in the boxing world. Many will watch, whether to get behind the product or analyze everything that appears wrong. Either way, eyeballs will be on the screen, and he can make himself into a “must-see tv” with an impressive victory over a former champion.
The part of the card that I am most interested in seeing is this “Last Chance Tournament” that ProBox has put together. The tournament takes place in the junior welterweight division, and all fights are scheduled for eight rounds.
The concept is different and fresh, which should result in fans wanting to tune into these fights. Labeling it “Last Chance” will incentivize these fighters to give it their all, and when being put in that scenario, it should make for some good action in the squared circle. The hope is that these types of tournaments can bring different levels of promoters together for fighters competing to stay on a roster.
ProBox TV is currently offering both a monthly subscription ($1.99) and the option of paying for the entire year ($18.00). It sounds like you will get more “bang for your buck” on this one, but for some, it’s another bill added to the many other subscriptions. If this Friday’s card isn’t incentive enough or you want to see some events on the horizon, ProBox TV has already announced their headliner for the June event. If you are a hardcore fan and love the flyweight division, WBO junior flyweight champion Jonathan Gonzalez (25-3-1) will be defending his title against Mark Anthony Barriga (11-1) on June 24th.
My Three Cents
The jury is not out yet on ProBox TV and won’t until at least the end of the year. There is plenty of promise regarding the things they are doing and have planned for the near future. The only question that remains is whether ProBox TV is here to stay or a flash in the pan? Only time will tell, but from the looks of it, after Friday, people will more than likely be ready to hit the subscribe button and potentially witness the next big wave in the sport of boxing, ProBox TV.