Premier Boxing Champions rose out of the ashes of HBO Boxing which perished when the premium network opted to put an end to their decades long commitment to putting on top notch boxing productions. PBC as they are referred to colloquially tried to claim the mantle by putting boxing on network TV and promising to end PPV as we know it. They signed a vast list of stars and brought big names to large audiences in a move that made boxing the most accessible it had been for decades. Now as the clock strikes midnight in 2021 they are the leader in PPV events. In fact SB Nation recently did an article highlighting the cost of buying all of the PBC PPV’s just in the recent month stretch. It is amazing how much of a 180 this company has made from no PPV to some PPV to take advantage of the fan level PPV. I have an acronym that I use called FTF or “fuck the fan” which is what I say when it feels like the sports industry is really just fucking the average fan. This could be ticket prices, parking prices, merchandise prices or PPV events and their cost and what you get for the money. This Tweet from Ring Magazine‘s Michael Montero should perfectly lay out what I am illustrating as far as a shift and overall cost. If you bought every event starting in 2019 you spent just over $1,400 and that does not include what you paid just to have Showtime or any other streaming service for boxing.
I understood PPV much like I understood interim titles when they were used in a manner that coincided with their original purpose. PPV used to be reserved for the biggest events with the best talent meeting in significant fights. Fans now are being asked to hand over $39.99 to watch Luis Ortiz and Charles Martin which is a dramatic far cry from the days of Mayweather and Pacquiao topping the bill. While those two legends did have some hard to justify PPV’s like Pacquiao vs Rios and Mayweather vs Berto, fans were at least treated to watching the very best in the world who paid their dues demonstrate their craft. Ortiz and Martin are not the best in the world, they are not even top five fighters in their own division. This fight should be on FOX or FS1 where it could garner a degree of real exposure. Boxing is not the most popular sport in America, it is a niche sport, people don’t know who these guys are and it appears as though PBC wants the least amount of people possible to watch the event.
In short, I want this PPV to bomb. That’s not because I hate the sport, hate the PBC or anything like that but because the fans need to give the F-U back. If fans do not take a stand by not buying this event they will keep serving it. Now I do not have access to their books and PBC won’t claim it is near collapse so I wonder if they are doing this out of necessity or are they trying to pull a fast one? HBO indulged a lot on PPV and their ratings began to dip making the public less and less familiar with their product. The public did not take what the company was serving. I feel that maybe PBC has become emboldened as ESPN Friday Night Fights died off, HBO is gone, they run Showtime, and a network like NBC never seems to gain any traction in putting out boxing. This is how a monopoly works, kill the competition then raise the price. However, like HBO these tactics may lead to them losing popularity and having to fold in the future. I don’t root for these companies to fail because it means that boxing becomes harder to watch for me and harder to watch for the average Joe meaning the sport as a whole struggles.
I do not intend to bad mouth the fighters here as Ortiz and Martin is actually a pretty good fight. I mentioned frivolous PPV’s in the title and the other one is of course the Keith Thurman and Mario Barrios fight. Thurman and Barrios were the B-side of PPV fights against Pacquiao (Thurman) and Tank Davis (Barrios) and in this era of boxing being on PPV once means being on PPV all the time. Thurman is a part time fighter at this point that lost any traction he gained in unifying titles at welterweight, he hasn’t won a meaningful fight since 2017. He was competitive with Pacquiao in 2019 but is that enough to be a PPV headliner in 2022? Barrios is best known for losing to Davis in a competitive and entertaining fight but that’s kind of it. Neither has a title, this isn’t for a title, neither guy is viewed as the top guy in their respective division. Bottom line, this should not be on PPV either.