Published on March 3rd, 2017 | by Michael Newell
Hype=PPVs in embarrassing Haye v Bellew build-up
David Haye and Tony Bellew, two pretty average boxers who have somehow found themselves competing in the most anticipated fight of 2017 so far.
Okay, that is slightly harsh on Haye, who back in his heyday (excuse the pun) was a good fighter. However, even if he’d lived up to his potential he would have never gone down as a great fighter.
Merseyside-born Bellew also has a decent record but it seems that after his acting role in the 2015 film Creed, he’s happy just to get up in front of the cameras to bring the attention on himself.
The fact that their non-title fight at the O2 Arena has got attracted so much attention is a sign that boxing and the broadcasters who televise it have got their priorities wrong. Too much effort is now put into hyping up a fight – just for it to be one big let down.
Let’s look back at the eagerly anticipated (and long overdue) Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao fight in 2014. It generated $400m through pay-per-view, a record in boxing, but turned out to be complete letdown after months of hype and build-up.
Both of boxers looked too scared to lose, there was no risk-taking, just a lot of defensive boxing and plenty of disappointed fans.
Admittedly, there is pleasure you can take from the pre-fight mind games. It’s part of playing the game – getting the upper hand before you step into the ring.
However, it is getting way over the top now, to the point where it is not even fun to watch anymore.
And I would expect another letdown when Haye and Bellew finally come face-to-face in the ring. It feels like all the effort from both sides has been put into promoting the fight – with lots TV coverage building up an picture of the two hating each other.
To be honest, the two boxers have done a pretty good job of cranking up the animosity. There has been shouting, insults, a bit of pushing and even an attempted punch thrown by Londoner Haye. It seems like they really do hate each, right?
Perhaps they really do hate each other, although there are many people out there like myself who see it all as a bit of manufactured aggro, with Sky orchestrating it all to increase their PPV numbers.
It’s not the first time and it certainly will not be the last time we see Sky come up with ridiculously over-dramatic campaigns for this reason.
But does this really benefit the spectacle everyone wants to see – the actual fight. With all the trash talk, the promises of harm being inflicted, can Haye and Bellew actually live up to the expectations that have now been put on them?
You would think that after having to talk such a hard game that the biggest thing on the two’s mind is to avoid an embarrassing early round knock-out.
Is the fight just going to be another Maywhether-Pacquiao borefest, with the whole thing is forgotten in a matter of weeks?
And it’s not just boxing. So many sporting events are hyped up with great expectations only to end in a disappointing spectacle.
It’s not rare to see a match such as Arsenal v Manchester United end in a dull stalemate, after hours of build-up.
Formula 1 is another example. Last year saw an extremely dull season of racing, with Sky seemingly putting more effort into stirring up off-the-track issues betweens Mercedes team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Okay, Sky do not make the rules in F1, but it gets pretty tiresome watching manufactured drama away from where we want it to be; on-the-track, on-the-field-of-play, not off it.
So Sky are not entirely to blame when the spectacle is not what we expect it to be, but they are just making things worse. And at times, as with the Haye v Bellew fight, it’s becomes embarrassing.
It’s time to get back to basics and start focusing about what we are all really want to see – the sport.