There was deserved ridicule and derision for celebrity boxing matches in 2018. The fight, if it can be described as that, between KSI and Logan Paul, two highly popular Youtube ‘personalities’, was the most notorious. The social media bloggers, who amassed a fortune through their online videos, sold out the Manchester Arena for their six round farce.
It was a circus – a meaningless spectacle that captured the worst of modern celebrity culture and sport. Manufactured beefs, novice fighting and a huge casual audience were the ingredients to that tasteless cocktail of absurdity.
But, amongst the ridicule of boxing purists, the more savy characters of the sport were taking note. There were lessons to be drawn from the event. You could condemn the quality and integrity of the occasion, but you couldn’t argue with the success of selling out a major arena, enticing an entirely new demographic, and generating significant profit. Promoters and boxers should have been watching, critically, and reflecting on how they could evolve.
It was with interest, then, that we saw Kynoch Boxing Promotions announce a show in Glasgow on February 2nd. The outfit, which was established in 2018, but has many years experience in boxing, has already shown creativity. There are shows around the city, in different venues, involving their large stable of fighters from various backgrounds, as well as a world class woman boxer. But the show in February marks a new step in professional boxing here as it will, like the Youtube event, be held during the day. Brutal combat sport over lunch, leaving your evening free. Interesting.
There is also a new pricing structure that encourages younger people to attend. For those who don’t have a natural history or affinity to the sport that could be more attractive.
Evening events are a tradition in boxing. Friends, family and supporters meet for drinks and watch matches before descending on the city’s bars and clubs to continue their night out. It’s a tested model. But it often restricts participants to those who – like us – enjoy a drink, or ten, and a party.
There’s a generation of young people that don’t fit into that category. They drink less and consume their entertainment in a different way. There are older people who, without being patronising, don’t want to spend their evening surrounded by intoxicated boxing fans before making their way home through the busy city after midnight.
It’s a bold move and, whilst it may not mark an instant cultural shift, or replace the traditional model of events, it could be a useful addition to the Scottish boxing calander, offering diverse choice to prospective fans.
We’re also impressed by Kynoch Boxing fighters’ embrace of social media. One of the fighters on the bill, Dean Sutherland, is a young prospect in the welterweight division who looks to be a real talent. But, beyond his technical ability, he also understands the importance of self-promotion on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. Sutherland produced an excellent video summary of his first year in the sport as a professional with shots of his matches, training and interviews. It has been shared across social media, generated over six thousand views and gained the attention of new sponsors who have invested in his career.
We laughed at the KSI-Logan show. It was a crass mockery of our sport and we certainly didn’t buy it. But it was an example of how promoters and fighters – in a saturated market where there is not a great deal of money outwith the top level – could evolve their approach. It is the future and, if done in an honest and credible way, has to be considered.
We wish Kynoch Boxing well with their afternoon show and will follow with interest.