2018 Wishlist
  
2017 has almost gone and looking back, the annual wish list (http://www.newageboxing.co.uk/2017-wishlist) was hit and miss.  To reiterate, it isn’t a predictions list, but more the realistic hopes of a fan for outcomes over 12 months.  Turns out a number of them weren’t so realistic after all!
 
 Super fights have happened of their own volition (GGG vs Canelo, Lomachenko vs Rigondeaux) while the genesis of the World Boxing Super Series leant a hand in bringing together top names at both Super Middle and Cruiser.  The pantomime of Mayweather vs McGregor thankfully didn’t cast too long a shadow over the sport, while in Britain we have seen BT solidify their boxing platform that sees Frank Warren once again become a legitimate pound-for-pound challenger in the British promotional tug of war.
 
Turning the attention to 2018, we have a solid base to build on.  Without further ado, let’s dive into the hopes and dreams of the following 12 months……..
 
The StubHub Situation
An oldie, but a goodie.  The narrative is set by now; tickets go on sale to a big event (insert the names of a Joshua, Eubank etc) and within minutes, those same tickets end up on StubHub.  What we know is that they are sponsors to Matchroom, so of course as fans we question the commercial values of the arrangement.  However we can’t say for certain what is going on here.  Step in then, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). 
 
A Government non-ministerial department, their aim “is to make markets work well for consumers, businesses and the economy”.  They don’t fuck about, their power is real.  Back in November the offices of StubHub and Viagogo got a visit (https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/nov/10/stubhub-and-viagogo-offices-raided-in-ticket-touting-investigation) to find out a bit more information.  There is still a lot of the unknown; Who is benefitting?  Who is organising?  How do the tickets end up so quickly on StubHub? 
 
There is a lot….A LOT….that could come out in 2018 about this.  As fans, we can hope that if there are nefarious actions being undertaken by anyone in the sport, those individuals get drained from the swamp.  There may be a lot of paper trails being buried at present, let’s hope that the CMA get their hands on them and clean up the entire process, meaning that fans can have the access they should to tickets at face value.
 
Social Media Guidelines
Prompted by the recent ongoings of Ohara Davies but it fits a wider narrative beyond just this incident.  Boxers can be feisty types, we know that.  Twitter lends itself to some great moments in the sports; fights being made, fights being hyped and fans discussing fights.  There is value in social media, but as the case of Ohara Davies proves, there is also risk.
 
Pulled from his spot on an O2 undercard for Twitter comments, Davies no doubt has crossed many lines in the past.  But the problem is, the level of offence that people can take is subjective.  To insult the people of Liverpool by referencing The Sun will cause far less anger elsewhere in the country.  When David Haye compared his beating of Audley Harrison to being as one-sided as a gang rape, there will be sub-sections of society rightly more offended than others by the comment.  Eddie Hearn didn’t allow his moral (or financial) compass to pull that fight from happening.
 
It is all subjective.  In itself, this makes policing it difficult.  The British Boxing Board of Control issue their own social media guidelines (http://bbbofc.com/content/social-media-guidelines) – the fact that both Bebo and MySpace are referenced as social media websites perhaps highlights how outdated these are though.  The catch-all line in their best practice says:

“Never use social media to insult anyone directly or indirectly.”
 
They would struggle to make it any more ambiguous, yet THEY are the ones who should be policing this.  The Board hold the licences, the Board have the power to suspend and withdraw or to issue financial penalties.  Not just the boxer though, they can also look past them and interrogate the Management, the Promoter, the Trainer.  In other words, the influencers of the individual. 
 
Boxing isn’t a normal workplace, we accept that.  If you work in an office, chances are these guidelines are laid out and explained on day one.  Boxing isn’t like that.  Boxing relies upon the needle to sell fights.  It is the policing of the issue that is worrying.  Tyson Fury was fined in 2013 for a series of Tweets (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/boxing/9938810/Tyson-Fury-fined-3000-by-Boxing-Board-of-Control-for-Twitter-abuse-against-David-Price-and-Tony-Bellew.html) and various others have been penalised for indiscretions. 
 
It will be interesting to see if Davies gets his wrists slapped by the Board for his actions.  If so will they also penalise others around him who have been part of the Davies character, part of the reason that he is as well-known as he is? 
 
One thing that could really benefit the sport as a result of this is for the Board to update the guidelines.  Written at a time when Bebo and MySpace were still relevant, they are outdated.  They now have case studies, examples where they deem the line was crossed.  With is being subjective as to who will be offended by comments, it isn’t an easy task to police.  However, as they are in control of the sport from the top down in the UK, it is the responsibility of the Board to ensure that boxers are getting both the boundaries made clear and the help they need if they don’t understand them.  Without these in place, how can boxers be held truly accountable? 

Tyson Fury – 2 fights by end of 2018 on BBBoC licence
We’re all fed up by now of the story.  Thankfully UKAD have wiped their hands of the situation (weirdly leaving all seemingly able to claim a victory), so it just leaves Tyson to make his ring return.  Or does it?  The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) said he still needs to apply for a licence.  Tyson said he may not do so, he may explore other options.
 
Yes, Haye and Chisora fought on a Luxembourg licence.  No, it didn’t diminish the event, the outcome or the attendance.  However, they were both in a tight spot at the time.  Let’s be clear; if Tyson Fury wants the fight with Joshua, he needs that BBBoC licence.  The fight only makes sense in the UK, and Joshua won’t be taking out a BIBA licence or such like any time soon. 
 
In fact my wish isn’t to see Joshua vs Fury in 2018.  I just don’t think it is realistic, as that fight fills Wembley twice over.  If we are seeing Tyson back, then my wish is more simple.  Two fights, both under a BBBoC licence in the UK.  Doesn’t have to be for a world title, doesn’t even have to be particularly competitive.  Let’s just see that it all still works, that the two years out haven’t killed the magic.  2019 is the time for big fights.
 
YouTube Income
We’ve seen YouTube work at both ends of the spectrum in 2017.  As fans, it’s been great to see MTK broadcast their product free via the IFL platform.  Mick Hennessy has tried it to less fanfare, firstly with Hughie Fury vs Joseph Parker and then laughably, with the debut of ‘Pink Tyson’. 
 
If the rumours are to be believed, Fury vs Parker rounded up to under 10,000 buys.  At £15 a go, that’s £150,000.  Financially and commercially, that would be a disaster if true. 
 
So, it hasn’t worked with a payment platform.  The problem is, giving away your product is just that; giving it away.  Of course that’s great from a fan perspective, being able to load a laptop or Smart TV and watch free boxing, but commercially it isn’t adding anything to the bottom line of the Promoter.  Sure, there’s the argument that it allows a window for potential ticket buyers; but what if it’s a bad show?  You can put people off just as easily as luring them in.  This debate is a separate entity entirely.
 
The challenge is to find a way to commercialise YouTube to the benefit of all involved.  Can small hall promoters find a way to commoditise it, taking into account production costs?  Can larger promoters find a way to bypass TV, cut the middle man and take the money themselves?  No doubt YouTube will play a part in the future, but we don’t know to what extent.
 
A fan’s hope here is that someone unlocks the potential of YouTube (or Facebook live, or any other online platform) to their benefit and that of the fans.  2018 may be too soon to master it, but don’t be surprised to see a few have a go at it.
 
TV platforms – Consolidation
 
Less is more sometimes.  We all enjoy boxing on TV, from small hall to Wembley stadium.  As the year closes we now have eight domestic broadcasters:  BT Sports, Sky Sports, Dave, ITV, Channel 5, FreeSports, YouTube, S4C.
 
Although boxing may be in a good place in the UK, is there realistically enough talent to give quality viewing to eight different broadcasters?  Each of them is involved because they want to grow the sport.  Not through philanthropy or goodwill, but to make money.  They each want more viewers.  The risk here is that every new viewer that tunes in needs to see quality boxing, or else the Off button will be reached for.
 
This isn’t to say we need world titles on every card.  Far from it.  What we do need are well matched, exciting bouts.  One of these can land on a small hall card up or down the country every weekend without a TV camera pointed at it.  It’s a case of making sure that if we have TV cameras at shows, they are at the right shows.
 
Therefore let’s not spread the talent any thinner than it already is and risk the dilution of quality.  Let’s instead consolidate, try and ensure that if it is broadcast then it is quality.

WBSS – Build on the success
The World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) has undoubtedly been great for boxing fans.  Anyone entering has been given the respect they deserve, anyone not in it is almost cast aside.  The winners will be held in the highest regard within their weight division.  The prestige of the Ali Trophy for the winner may mean more to boxing fans than any world titles they pick up on the way.
 
Has it helped cross the sport over to a new fan base?  Probably not.  The fact that in the UK a lot of the British fights have been behind the ITV PPV wall doesn’t really help, and the great fights in the cruiserweights involve a majority of Eastern Europeans that the casual fan won’t care for. 
 
However it could help bring in new fans.  A heavyweight model would certainly do it, but would likely be too costly.  We are hearing that the organisers are looking down the weight divisions though, not up.  Given that there seems to have been a leaning towards enticing UK fans so far (four fighters out of the total 16) then featherweight may seem a logical progression.  Frampton, Quigg, Galahad, Warrington, Selby.  That would fill over half a tournament alone.  However as nearly all of them are with Warren, who didn’t provide a fighter in either of the first two tournaments, it seems this might be unlikely.
 
Which divisions they focus on, the important thing is to ensure the best are involved again.  There were fears that this would be a Super Six V2, but it hasn’t been.  It has turned into a boxing juggernaut.  Now it just needs to find a way into the wider sporting consciousness.
 
No Mayweather……unless
Let’s not dwell too much upon the August debacle, but it’s safe to say that history won’t remember the modern great Mayweather fondly in reaching 50-0 against novice boxer Conor McGregor.  It was what it was; people made money.
 
Stay retired Floyd.  The sport is doing OK without you, although your ego may not like the fact.  The only reason that we need to see Floyd come back is to ‘pass the torch’.  Errol Spence, Keith Thurman, one of the Charlo brothers, even Canelo again.  If you need to scratch the ego one more time, at least do it with someone that can carry the legacy after.
 
No McGregor…..at all
Unlike Floyd, who could generate the legitimate interest and money, I don’t ever want to see Conor McGregor in a boxing ring again.  The guy’s a dick, stick to MMA.