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Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (Triller Fight Club)

19
Apr

THE TRILLER EXPERIENCE

Hi Doug, hope you enjoyed the weekend,

One of my main takeaways from the weekend’s fights was that Triller is actually trying to build a massive live event for when the pandemic is over.

I’ve got a few German friends who used to go to all the Klitschko shows back in the day, and they always said it was an awesome night out. They were always puzzled that (apart from festival shows in Thailand), the rest of the world didn’t do the 3-ringed-circus approach to fights.



Basically, when you buy a ticket, you’re going to:

  • Concert
  • Bar
  • Fights
  • Whatever else they’ve also got at the venue – basically, something interesting or different for the live crowd for 30 minutes between fights if they don’t want to watch the music performance.

And it’s standing room only – you mill about from this point to the other. My friends did say it wouldn’t necessarily work in the UK because people would just end up brawling (Germans are a little more responsible around beer, apparently – no idea about US audiences at live shows, so can’t compare), but they say it’s a great promotional strategy – basically, you sell it to a city that when the fights are over, at 23:30, then 8000 people will be looking to continue the party in the entertainment/bar districts of the town, and they’ll be ready to spend some cash to keep the good times going – so the city offers tax breaks or free policing or whatever. The audience has already been listening to live music, they’re fired up from watching fights (people forget that Wlad fights were boring while they happened, but often ended in a KO so people were happy when leaving), so the audience will go put money into local businesses.

Anyway, I tuned in to this broadcast, just out of a kind of morbid curiosity. But I think, after reading some Americans’ comments on Twitter, that maybe they’re not seeing or understanding the product that Triller is building. Done right, it really could be a winning strategy – especially given that many former UFC stars have a bigger name than a bank balance, due to the underpayment that they receive in that company compared to boxers; and, after the pandemic, people will be really yearning for a great night out.

Anyway, if you can see something I’m missing (maybe US cultural differences, etc), I’d be interested to hear, if you’ve space in the mailbag. Hope you’re well. – K

I’m good, K.

You – and your German friends – make a good point about the overall experience that Triller Fight Club is seeking to create. It’s too bad they didn’t sell tickets to this particular event, at least a couple thousand to a general audience (I know they had some media, VIPs, social media influencers, etc. on site), so we could hear how the live in-arena experience compared to the PPV/streaming experience. My guess is that there would be more than a few satisfied customers, probably folks in their 20s and early 30s.

Much of what caused a stir (and stink) among hardcore boxing fans (at least on my Twitter TL) was the crowded, often scattered, unprofessional, and sometimes foul-mouthed commentary; as well as the length of the musical segments (and the overall broadcast, which I’ve heard was between 4-5 hours). If you spend money on tickets and travel (and lodging if you’re from out of state), and schedule the time be on site for a show, you don’t mind it lasting more than a few hours. You WANT the event to last as long as it’s lively and entertaining, but it’s different if you’re watching a production on TV or your laptop or tablet.

And hardcore fans (the folks who populate my Twitter TL) are usually just interested in good fights. It’s not that they don’t appreciate music and other forms of entertainment, they just don’t like to mix too much of it with their boxing. Some live music is OK as long as it feeds into the energy of the fights. This is something that probably separates the U.S. boxing crowd from the German fans that would regularly attend Klitschko events. My guess is that fans of the Klitschko events were “causal” boxing fans. They knew who the heavyweight kings were – Vitali and Wladimir (both bona-fide celebrities in Germany) – but they probably couldn’t name the top fighters in other weight classes, past or present, outside of the big names from the 1980s and ’90s (Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones Jr., Oscar De La Hoya) and the contemporary pound-for-pound stars, such as Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.  

Jake Paul after stopping his first opponent, Ali Eson Gib.

Of course, the purists and hardcore heads (especially those over the age of 40) should be reminded that they weren’t the target audience of this particular Triller Fight Club. Maybe the producers of the show that features Holyfield will have them in mind, but when Jake Paul is in the main event, they’re obviously going to target a younger and more general demographic. The folks Saturday night’s show was aimed at just wanted to see Paul knock somebody the f__k out, and the kid delivered. Good for him.

It makes me chuckle when I read Tweets from fans that are mad about Paul cold cocking another non-boxer. Guys, chill. Please. Paul just started boxing. He’s a celebrity. He doesn’t need to take the sport seriously, but he does. Give him some credit for facing a former combat athlete in his third pro bout. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a once-in-a-lifetime talent, born into a fighting family (his father a former contender, his uncle a two-division champ), literally grew up boxing, had a stellar amateur career capped by an Olympic medal, and he fought a guy making his pro debut in his FOURTH fight. Edgar Ayala, who retired with an 0-4 record, had better technique and mobility than poor Ben Askren but I doubt he had much more experience. And even if he did, his punch-resistance was about the same as the MMA fighter/wrestler. Bottom line: Most young boxers – even those as seasoned and talented at Mayweather – are spoon fed during the first year of their pro development.

I tuned in to this broadcast, just out of a kind of morbid curiosity. Did you pay for it?

But I think, after reading some Americans’ comments on Twitter, that maybe they’re not seeing or understanding the product that Triller is building. I can’t really hold that against them. From what I saw – and I admit that I probably took in one total hour of the show (the last couple rounds of Cunningham-Mir, Prograis-Redkach, a bit of Bieber, and the main event) – it was all over the place.

Done right, it really could be a winning strategy – especially given that many former UFC stars have a bigger name than a bank balance, due to the underpayment that they receive in that company compared to boxers; and, after the pandemic, people will be really yearning for a great night out. I think you’re right on both counts. I wonder if at some point Triller Fight Club will welcome MMA matches instead of having MMA fighters take on boxers in boxing matches. I think they probably will (as well as have boxers fight MMA fighters in MMA matches). From what I’ve read, they prefer Oscar De La Hoya to face an MMA/UFC fighter.

 

TRILLER TRASH

Dougie,

That Triller event was perverse. I wanted to be open-minded to what could have been an innovative boxing event, but it was awful. The concerts felt like an imposition to the fight action (instead of an intermission), and the commentary was vulgar.

The Tyson/Jones affair worked for the most part, because it at least felt like they were trying to take it seriously, but this one felt fake and nearly unwatchable.

And in the one real boxing match, Redkach ended up faking a low blow to keep from getting absolutely dismantled by Prograis.

The whole night was embarrassing. I hope legitimate boxers refuse to do business with them in the future, and just relegate them to the margins of the sport.

Thank goodness DAZN had some real action on earlier in the day. Let’s get Boo Boo in there with an aging GGG, since Andrade can’t seem to get any name fighters to fight him. Who you got in that match up? All the best. – JC, Dallas, TX

Demetrius Andrade takes it to Liam Williams. Could he do this to GGG? Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

I think it’s an even middleweight matchup at this point in Golovkin’s career. I like Andrade and I think he’s got a lot talent, but I believe the 2012-2017 version of GGG would have stopped him late in a one-sided fight. Now, I think it’s a distance bout that could go either way, but I’d favor Golovkin, who has more experience than Andrade, more all-around game than Liam Williams (who had his moments vs. Boo Boo), and, of course, more punching power than Williams (who buzzed Andrade a few times), to win a close unanimous decision.

That Triller event was perverse. Damn, it was that bad? I didn’t tune-in until mid-way through the Cunningham-Mir bout and only paid attention to bits and pieces of it from that point until Paul-Askren. (I had Triller Fight Club on a laptop while The Godfather was on TV at the same time, and even with the sound down the Coppola classic commanded my attention.)

I wanted to be open-minded to what could have been an innovative boxing event, but it was awful. The concerts felt like an imposition to the fight action (instead of an intermission), and the commentary was vulgar. From what I paid attention to, the commentary and presentation was just too much/too loud/over-the-top. I respect everyone who was part of the crowded broadcast booth, but I think it would have been better had they approached the fights the way the commentary crew did during the Tyson-Jones show. In that inaugural Triller presentation, Snoop Dogg was the “Class Clown” who made people laugh and kept everything loose and non-traditional while, for the most part, the other commentators stayed in their lanes and played it straight. With the Paul-Askren show it seemed like everybody (except for Al Bernstein) was trying too hard to be like Snoop, thus straying out of character and their strengths as commentators/analysts. It had a chaotic vibe, but maybe that’s exactly what the producers wanted and maybe that appealed to a number of demographics that don’t include hardcore boxing fans over 30.

The Tyson/Jones affair worked for the most part, because it at least felt like they were trying to take it seriously, but this one felt fake and nearly unwatchable. I agree. They captured lightning in a bottle with Tyson-Jones. I’m not sure why they wanted to stray from that chemistry/formula. My guess is that they wanted to appeal to Paul fans, not Tyson fans, and my guess is that Paul fans liked all the cursing and yelling and drug use. I could be wrong. I know Paul has a lot of fans/followers but I don’t know much (if anything) about them. It was all very weird and occasionally cringey to me, but I kept in mind that none of it was aimed at me, a 50-year-old longtime hardcore fan. The DAZN and FS1 shows that aired on Saturday were for me. Showtime’s nine-card summer schedule is for me. That particular Triller Fight Club, not so much, but I did want to see Regis Prograis in action, and I was a little curious about how Paul-Askren would play out (it went the way I expected). I’ll be into the main event of the June 5 TFC show (Teofimo Lopez-George Kambosos Jr. lightweight championship).

And in the one real boxing match, Redkach ended up faking a low blow to keep from getting absolutely dismantled by Prograis. Well, you can’t blame Triller for that.

The whole night was embarrassing. Maybe I’d feel that way had I watched the entire show, but I didn’t, and when the music numbers were on I turned the sound up on the TV and watched what was playing there (The Godfather); I’m not a Bieber or Doja Cat fan. But I didn’t take any of it seriously enough to feel embarrassed for anyone who was part of it.

I hope legitimate boxers refuse to do business with them in the future, and just relegate them to the margins of the sport. Bro, traditional boxing is in the margins of the general sports world. The world class/elite boxers don’t fight enough, don’t challenge themselves enough, and the industry can’t deliver the big fights that fans demand. Beyond that, the current game lacks personality and showmanship apart from a few standouts. At the end of the day, casual fans just want to be entertained. Triller’s trying to do that. It didn’t work for me or you but it did for others. Regarding the “legitimate boxers” boycotting Triller, if TFC offers them more money and exposure than they would receive fighting on traditional platforms, they’d be foolish to turn down the opportunity.  

 

LUIS ORTIZ

Ortiz ranked @5 with no career wins and no achievements.

Incompetence or corruption? – J.H.

Neither. Oldman Kong is just lucky to be a part of a division that’s evenly matched (and rather shallow) below the top three. He’s got 32 career wins, including stoppage of a then-world rated Bryant Jennings and seasoned gatekeeper Tony Thompson. But his two losses to Deontay Wilder (The Ring’s No. 2 contender at the time) earned his lofty spot, for now. He came close to stopping the Bronze Bomber in bout No. 1 and was ahead on the scorecard before getting starched in bout No. 2 (in 2019). That counts for something. Could Joseph Parker or Andy Ruiz be rated ahead of the Cuban? Arguably, yeah. But Parker’s best win was a split nod over Ruiz in 2016, and as sensational as Ruiz’s stoppage of Anthony Joshua was, the Californian laid a big fat lazy egg in the rematch.

If Parker beats the division’s top gatekeeper, Dereck Chisora, in impressive fashion or if Ruiz blasts the faded Chris Arreola (both fights are on May 1), maybe the Ring Ratings Panel will see fit to advance one or both over Ortiz. We’ll see.

 

PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION

What’s happening Doug?

I’m watching a couple of Jose Ramirez fights and I started to think- Ramirez is an over achiever due to his professional preparation. He’s a good athlete but, more than that, he always comes with an iron will and is super prepared.

  • So, Doug, here’s my question: who do you rate as the most consistently prepared and focused fighters out of today’s stars?

Best – Alan (You can’t say Adrian Broner!)

Aw, no fair!

Anyway, Ramirez is in the top 15, for sure. The WBC/WBO 140-pound titleholder is the epitome of tenacious, and his conditioning and focus is a big part of that. I’d include Canelo Alvarez, Roman Gonzalez, Naoya Inoue, GGG, Shawn Porter, Terence Crawford, the Charlos, Artur Beterbiev, Caleb Plant, Teofimo Lopez, Gary Russell Jr., Stephen Fulton and Ramirez’s May 22 foe, Josh Taylor, to that list.

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