Fans face long wait for superfights – Greenburg

It could be a while before we see the best meeting the best again inside a boxing ring according to former HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg.

While the boxing world is yearning for superfights such as Fury vs Wilder 3, Fury vs Joshua and Canelo vs Golovkin 3, Greenburg believes the global COVID-19 pandemic will mean the wait for those events will be longer than fight fans would want to believe.

When boxing does come back – likely in June or July – there will be no spectactors in attendance, which means blockbusting events would already be at a major disadvantage – before you even factor in the threat a global recession poses to disposable incomes and therefore PPV buys.

Greenburg told John Wall Street: “There won’t be gate revenue and in a down economy fans may be hesitant to shell out $70 or $80 for a single night of entertaninment.”

The February rematch between Fury and Wilder in Las Vegas drew a live gate paying just under $17million – a record for a heavyweight bout. From a PPV perspective UFC 249 meanwhile has just drawn 700,000 PPV buys at $64.99 without a massive star attraction or a live crowd – but given it has a different business model the financial impact the pandemic has on boxing remains to be proven or not.

Boxing’s last glorious era probably came in the mid-80s when fans packed arenas and cinemas around the world to see the likes of Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran and Tommy Hearns square off in enormous events. And Greenburg believes there is a good reason the fight game has always managed to survive despite almost constant rumours of its demise.

He said: “The reason boxing has always been able to initiate a change in technology that created more revenue was because it was a popular mainstream sport. Unless boxing has a major rejuvenation or a fighter as electric as Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson comes along…”

The seemingly obvious play next for boxing then comes via huge entertainment platforms such as Amazon and Apple – who already have the audience, tech setup and payment infrastructure to take on and host megafights.

But to Greenburg’s point above – without the right box-office attraction to sell, it just may not be worth their investment.

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