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Saturday, 4 June 2011

It's good to talk

People are looking forward to July 2 when David Haye faces one of the Klitchkos in one of the biggest heavyweight bouts for a long, long time....  Interest on both sides of the Atlantic and across Europe will see big audiences see these monsters colide.
What is surprising though is that so many experts (and no doubt many folk swayed by these experts) believe that the Hayemaker has ‘talked’ his way into the fight.  The current WBA champion (and former Ring cruiserweight unified champion a la Evander Holyfield) has certainly talked a lot (more of that later), but who should Wlad be fighting instead??  Another of the likely lads from his past record - certainly no more talent on that list...  

Haye is the fight that had to be made - but because he is #2 and Wlad is #1 - his talking helped but could just have easily been detrimental to the fight happening.
What his talking has done is mean that the fight is a BIG one, a bigger one, and well done David for that.  Boxing has been crying out for some marketing, some publicity, something to compete with to get the crowds in and David’s talking, his posturing, his stunts have all driven the interest in the fight.  Wlad meanwhile (putting his undoubted boxing assets to one side) does not stir the imagination (outside of his adopted home in Germany).  Of course, he will benefit significantly from David Haye’s promotional work - with the purse set to break recent records - so everybody wins.
To now see Mr Haye copping flak because of this promotion makes no sense.  Talkers can be fighters just as much as fighters who don’t do much talking (the recent Degale vs Groves fight saw the ‘non-talker’ win the bout - though in a tight fight ‘the talker’ Degale was many folk’s winner).
With MMA delivering so much on the promotional front, with other sports getting better organized, learning from other sports’ more modern approaches and starting to drive interest - Boxing needs fighters like David Haye.  It needs fighters who know the value of generating publicity, of raising the sport’s awareness - simply being the most exciting sport is no longer enough.  
All sports need their athletes (the ones who have the greatest hold over the audience) to be as interesting (in and out of the ring or pitch or wicket), to drive awareness (and sales) and to promote (self or other).  In today’s increasingly accessible world, the power of the individual to have an impact - and an immediate one at that - is increasing - so to have a ‘talker’ on your promotional side is what any promoter wants.  Of course other attributes will drive public interest (and deliver $$ results) - but being aware of promotion (self or other) is a key factor for any boxer who wants to drive up his value.  And boxing as a sport has been slow to recognize the avenues available in modern world to assist this.
If you don’t believe me - look at the level of current Twitter followers for fighters (talkers vs non talkers) and for promoters (the biggest ones on the planet - and the individuals tasked with driving the sport’s popularity).  Whilst social media is only a snapshot (and a really “hot” snapshot right now) of the efforts that go into promoting a sport - surely these numbers “talk”.
Fighters
  • Wladimir Klitchko - nil
  • Vitali Klitchko - 157 (yet to make a tweet!)
  • David Haye - 9k (only just getting started)
  • George St PIerre - 202k (MMA!)
  • Floyd Mayweather - 1.2m (nicknamed ‘MONEY’ - do you think he knows what he is doing!!)

Promoters
  • Don King - 352
  • Bob Arum - 4 (yet to make a tweet)
  • Oscar De La Hoya (or his goldenboy operation) - 24k
  • Frank Warren - 4k
  • Dana White - 1.5m (MMA head honcho now he REALLY knows what he is doing)

Whilst David Haye’s mouth will have minimal impact on the result of his fight (though he has either inspired Wladimir K or got under his skin) you have to praise his efforts (maybe not some of the individual examples perhaps?) and implore more fighters, more managers and more promoters to understand what is needed.  What is needed to ensure boxing brings in a growing audience to drive the sport’s future.  
Of course, what it really needs if for the Hayemaker to deliver on his talk (apart from the bit about retiring in October - come on David - don’t do that to us) - and deliver a sensational fight with a ‘highlight reel’ finish.  That would really get folk talkin’.....


Follow me on twitter - @Carts888

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