Alex Ntiamoah-Boakye, CEO of Box Office Sports Promotions writes:
This piece has long been on my mind to share but due to one or other reasons I decided to hold but then again I believe sharing one’s opinion of the future of the sports in our local space is something noble if it is to save the future.
This I believe would be a compass to guide the stakeholders of the sport in Ghana especially those who are vulnerable to prepare before disaster strikes. I labelled some stakeholders as vulnerable as compared to the extent of the effect impact in case a “disaster” strikes on the sport.
I place the Boxers, Coaches, Clubs as the most vulnerable as against other stakeholder groups due to the impact effect in case something unpleasant happens to the sport.
With my over two decades (as a licensee – 2001) in the sport on the local scene, I have been able to ascertain the sport and it vulnerability and have discussed informally with the various stakeholder groups of what to do to save the future of the sport as well as how to improve but seems like many would prefer a little comfort today than to endure for proper planning to safeguard the future livelihood of the stakeholders whiles sustaining the standard of the sport.
I am writing this piece against the backdrop of Showtime’s announcement of ending boxing by close of this year. This is worrisome as HBO also one of the top TV supporting boxing exited from the sport in 2019. This trend should send a signal and the local boxing stakeholders should take a clue from.
On the local scene Metro TV was onetime the biggest network that partnered the sport with its Mortein and Mens Only Boxing League and later the Fist of Fury which was not sustainable.
After the exit of Metro TV, we couldn’t get any TV to fully support the sport till recently Max TV coming on board with the huge investment they have brought to support the sport.
After Metro TV’s exit, stakeholders suffered, as the model of the league was not a proper approach to the sport as it gave a monopoly power to the TV over promotions as against the local licensed promoters who knew how to build boxers to the world level.
With the Boxing League, the TV had the opportunity to annexed the local boxing scene with regards to promotions which put out the local promoters out of business. At the time of Metro TV’s exit, most prominent promotional outfits like Ambition Boxing Promotions, Baseline Promotions, Sikaprix etc were out due to the fact that they were under resourced as against Metro TV due to its media business and relationship with Corporate Ghana.
The proper thing to do was to engaged the promoters at the time to had designed a proper boxing series in order to bring good competition among the promoters and open ways for them have access to Corporate Ghana which would have sustained them at the time of Metro TV exit.
What the administrators at that time failed was to recognize the effort of the promoters at that time to grow and sustain the sport till Metro TV grew interest. With that mistake, boxing took a nose dive for sometime till new crop of promoters took over to have brought the game on high level which had grown the interest of Max TV.
With many promoters being active, boxers can have the best out of their talent as they can demand the right price for their service rather than a straight jacket for all irrespective of the weight class, the level of the fight etc., The risk of each level of fight is different and therefore compensation must be commensurate to the risk involved.
The reason why the exit of HBO and now ShowTime would not have a devastating impact on US boxing is because the laws protects the local promoters as the TV are not same as the promoters. They know the TV taking over the promotional space of the local promoters would be a disaster to the sport as the TV would have many option and different plans at different times and are not just established for boxing but other general purposes as well.
But the impact of Max TV with the league going on without the local promoters would be a disaster as the mode of the league is disruptive of the boxing ecosystem, this is evidently shown in the free gate approach, not having proper rules as how to be a candidate for the best boxer, interference in judges decisions etc.
I believe in the fact that Max TV is a business entity to have come into business to make profit but the approach and with the aid of the administration is detrimental to the future of the sport.
The proper way is to engage the promoters, design a holistic boxing series and to engage the promoters. Let say Max TV Fight Night whereby Promoters be supported with resources like venue, set up and some reasonable cash, this in return Max TV take total rights on the content as well as marketing rights. And with the 20 Fight Night slots, the local promoters would be in business whiles Max TV also being in business by owning the content and marketing rights where most TV and media houses makes their money on their investments.
This would automatically get all the good fights under Max TV whiles the gates would generate some reasonable revenue to pay the boxers properly and would be the sure way to sustain the sport. This will grow the promoters’ brands and can have a good profile to access sponsorship.
I have given the above solution not be seem as just a critic or a saboteur but someone wanting the betterment of the sport.
With the current trend, and with the Car as a bait, good and high level fights would be treated as same as ordinary and impact won’t be commensurate to the purse. With the current trend, boxing fans would be conditioned to free gate and after the exit of Max TV, promoters would struggle to sell out venue even with good fights and therefore no individual promoter would want to invest into the sport on the level of promotions.
With huge finances promoters has to invest to build a boxer into a world class, the impact of free gate would get him discouraged and therefore the future of the sport may be on the blink and the most to be affected would be the boxers, coaches and the local clubs/ gyms.
Promoter as mostly businessmen would want to invest in other sustainable areas whiles administrators, managers and others may go and follow their businesses, politics and other endeavors.
We need to look smart to protect the future of the sport especially the boxers and their neglect in the future would breed social vices which would be a menace to society at large.
I may not be perfect in my write up but as it is my opinion, I have shared for any interested stakeholder to take note before it is too late.