How influencer fights turned boxing into another Marvel movie

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My two great loves, cinema and boxing, are basically destroyed in the same way. Both were obviously always commercially driven. They are businesses first and foremost and need to make a profit. But in the last 15 years it has reached the point where there is no room for anything but shameless commercialism and the overall product is suffering.

So, what is killing the life out of these two loves of mine? In boxing, it’s these monstrously impressive boxing events that are sometimes shown on real boxing broadcasters like DAZN or Showtime. In cinema, it’s the proliferation of Marvel movies or, more broadly, IP-based entertainment and “universe-building”.

However, for the purposes of this piece, I will use Marvel as shorthand because it is the most dominant entertainment force in history. As if the US Army was making movies – and they are; to see: Top Gun, Iron man, American sniper and so on.

I’ve written before that I think Jake Paul is good for combat sports, and I stand by that. But he was the first in a generation of impressive fighters, and he seems to take it seriously. I’m talking here about the newer wave of Floyd Mayweather vs. Deji Olatunji or whatever “pro” he can find to share the ring with Tommy Fury. These are the things that take the life out of sports.

(Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

The first line is the simple fact that these films try to be, to put it simply like Martin Scorcese, an amusement park for the eyes. Marvel movies are full of big and expensive sets, adorable people in hats, and obnoxious dialogue filled with broad, funny jokes that people without a sense of humor find hysterical. They are all something to behold. Even when they are eager to comment on the state of the military-industrial complex (very difficult) or climate change, they rarely have anything interesting to say.

I know you don’t watch these movies for their social commentary; you watch them to turn off your brain and see hot people flying around and beating ugly people. Same with influencer events. No one watches these fights because they confuse Deji with Roberto Duran. He has three million Instagram followers, so I think he could fight Floyd Mayweather. Why not? There’s no risk for Mayweather, and even if it’s completely pointless, it’s fun to see two men from different worlds collide.

This mixing is my next line. It’s boring to anyone with half a brain, and it’s just shamelessly commercial. I don’t understand why anyone is completely off the hook for Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield appearing in the new Spider-Man movie. All they do is mash potatoes into a few movies and mix up vaguely familiar worlds.

Really talented directors and screenwriters don’t start with a “universe” they want to add, or a tertiary character they want to film around, so they can keep the money rolling. No, Quentin Tarantino and PT Anderson start with a blank page and create a world and characters you know (or wish you knew) within the first five minutes of the movie. They’re not just putting Ant-Man in China so Chinese audiences can meet Paul Rudd before Ant-Man is released in Shanghai. It’s clear to see why these come together. This is pure audience engagement. There is nothing deeper than that.

That’s my biggest problem. These events lack depth. I understand that money rules and is the number one consideration, but that doesn’t mean it should be the one and only consideration. This does not mean that the genius of a great director or fighter should be dismissed.

It gets even more complicated when the big broadcasters pick up these fights. This takes space and budget away from true future professionals. Every top young fighter today has a bright fan pedigree and has been tied to a promoter since their teenage years. Where do the other fighters come from? Will these impressive events prevent fighters like Marvin Hagler or Bernard Hopkins from taking unusual paths before finally getting their due? Will there be enough money in boxing to keep these events going for the long haul, while still allowing promoters and broadcasters to draw untested fighters who show flashes? I do not know. What I do know is that the purse strings in boxing get tighter every year.

I have the same concern about cinema. Every time a talented director comes out with a cheap, slick indie film, suddenly they’re making a Thor movie. So why not? Marvel can blow all other studios out of the water in terms of resources. After a few Marvel movies, you’re rich for generations. Jon Favreau is worth $200 million. Something tells me it’s not original Swingers remains. Having said that, it really is money. I’m sure he knows that.

It is a difficult time for my two great loves. I know these things come in waves and eventually people will want original content again. I just don’t know when it will happen. In terms of boxing, I have less faith in the apparatus that right the ship. Few have made the mistake of expecting boxing to shoot themselves in the foot at every turn.

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