Boxing is a sport that is full of smoke and mirrors. Indeed, it is hard to keep up with all the underlying subplots and difficult to verify which ones have any truth to them. A lot of the time, there is very little substance to what we’re seeing in the media and for the most part, it is a ruse that is designed to drive interest in a fight. It goes without saying but the more interest that there is in a fight, the more money it will generate in terms of pay-per-view sales.
Take the upcoming fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder as an example. Granted, the Tyson Fury vs Wilder 3 odds suggest it will be a walkover with Fury at just 1/3 to win the fight, but the broadcasters are still expecting an excess of a million pay-per-view buys at a price of $79.99 each. Indeed, there is a lot of money to be made in boxing and sometimes it doesn’t matter who the best fighter is, but ultimately who the more skilled promoter is.
In reality, capturing the public’s imagination is what it is all about and often a burly boxer doesn’t have the gift of the gab needed to do that. Step in a quick-thinking promoter who knows how to move the needle and in the blink of an eye, we’re believing the hype ourselves. It should be pointed out that there is only so much that can be said before a boxer has to back up the terrifying reputation he has been given by his promoter.
What’s up? Press conference👀 pic.twitter.com/q23KO9FTHE
— Alexander Usyk (@usykaa) September 23, 2021
Every now and again, however, we are reminded of the staggering influence promoters have when their fighters come up well short in the ring. It is during these shocking occasions when they are shown to be lacking the talent we have been led to believe they have, that we begin to learn that promoters for all intents and purposes, hold all the power.
One just needs to look at the tale of Anthony Joshua over the last two years to understand this phenomenon. Indeed, thanks to the eloquence of promoter Eddie Hearn, the world had been under the impression that the 31-year-old was going to rival the accomplishments of the best in the sport and eventually become the greatest of all time.
Whenever the topic of boxing would come up, Hearn’s rhetoric would dominate the conversation with most punters convinced that AJ was on course to leave a legacy that the global fighting community had never seen before.
“Oleksandr Usyk deserved the victory.” 🇺🇦👑
🥊🛎️ On-the-bell reaction to #JoshuaUsyk with:
Listen on @BBCSounds ⤵️#bbcboxing
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) September 26, 2021
The first cracks in that dream began to appear when Joshua lost for the first time in 2019 to surrender an unbeaten record. Still, Hearn worked his magic and had us believing that Joshua’s defeat was down to a lack of application rather than a shortcoming of skill.
Only, those same cracks turned into a massive hole when Joshua lost for the second time in his career in September 2021 and in doing so, gave up any chance of being considered the greatest of all time. The illusion had been shattered but how much did it really matter?
Thanks to Eddie Hearn and a few undoubtedly good performances, Joshua has racked up more than $125 million over the course of 26 fights. So, how important is a promoter in a boxer’s career? You do the math.