Boxing, for once, won big in July
It’s a habit in boxing to view the tiny pieces, the ones in front of your eyes that only involve an agenda. For the folks putting on the fights, they can sometimes get lost by numbers presented on a spreadsheet. For the managers and promoters, it’s often the same. Who loses? The ignored fans paying the bills. Boxing’s fragmentation is the reason why the sport remains in the niche hinterlands, only to surface infrequently to capture the general sports world’s attention.
In July, more specifically the last week of July, that happened.
For once, boxing did it right.
In one week, two major fights that fans craved to see took place, when man-machine Naoya Inoue stopped Stephen Fulton in eight for multiple junior featherweight titles on Tuesday, July 25, followed by Terence Crawford’s masterful performance in stopping Errol Spence Jr. in nine to become the first undisputed welterweight world champion.
Boxing was the real winner. The sport stood tall in the spotlight with Inoue and Crawford winning in spectacular fashion in matches that boxing fans wanted. Boxing served its fans well. There were no controversial finishes. There were no controversies involved with the fights.
Boxing fans were served. Anyone complaining that had an agenda has nothing to do with loving or respecting the sport. Inoue opened and Crawford concluded one of the greatest weeks in boxing history.
This is where numbers surface to support it:
Live gate projections put the Crawford-Spence fight in over $80 million, and numerous sources confirmed the Spence-Crawford pay-per-view garnered over 650,000 buys. With numbers still pouring in, that figure could climb to close to 700,000. When adding all the figures, the entire PBC/Showtime/PPV.com event could generate around $80 million in total, including ticket sales from the sellout crowd of 19,990 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Crawford (40-0, 31 knockouts) became the first male boxer in the four-belt era to claim two undisputed championships, while Inoue (25-0, 22 KOs) showed just how great he is by beating the previously undefeated Fulton (21-1, 8 KOs). Other than Kazuto Ioka, Inoue, a certain future Hall of Famer, became only the second Japanese fighter to win major titles in four weight classes.
July continued a streak of what has so far been a great year in boxing.
On April 22 in a PBC event on Showtime pay-per-view, Tank Davis fought Ryan Garcia in a crossover megafight on April 22 in a PBC event on Showtime pay-per-view, before a sellout crowd at the T-Mobile Arena, which drew over a reported 1.2 million buys. In June, there was Teofimo Lopez Jr.’s upset over Josh Taylor, and the year will conclude with undisputed super middleweight world champion Canelo Alvarez defending his titles against Jermell Charlo on September 30.
It’s a constant fight with mainstream media outlets to get boxing any attention on the sports pages or major city sports-talk radio stations. But with this year, getting supplied with the fights that fans want to see, boxing looks like it is a taking a healthy turn in 2023. Despite the lazy trope of what afflicts boxing, a deeper look reveals just the opposite—at least in 2023, so far.
July continued to make that point.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.
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