As fan and as a writer, purchasing pay-per-view boxing is a prerequisite these days. I’ve done them all, from Bruno v Tyson, Hamed, Lewis through to Hatton v Tszyu and everything in between. So strong is my thirst to see the stars of the fistic world that I even succumbed to the very shallow temptation of Eastman v Hopkins. A fight never likely to distract the annual visitors to the Dulux sponsored, Watch Paint Dry Championships.
I’ve threatened, in a fit of pique, to not purchase PPV fights before. Too many have this implied kudos bestowed upon them and while £14.99 is relatively economic compared with the $50-60-70 price tags American PPV carries, far too many fall well short of the ‘special’ standards these fights should be surpassing. I’m not sure at what point Ricky Hatton’s fights became PPV by default, well I suppose I do, it was following his enthralling and worthy victory over Kostya Tszyu around this time three years ago, but few of the ensuing contests come close to meriting the investment. Castillo perhaps?
The energy, significance and entertainment contained in the Tsyzu contest merited the PPV tag both before and in the 20/20 perspective of reflection but those heights were not rescaled by messrs Urango, Maussa et al. This isn’t to say I discredit the value of all of Hatton’s fights post Tsyzu and clearly the tough Mancunian is now seeking to satisfy demographics beyond the confinement of pure boxing fans, but PPV?. Hatton’s fights have, of course, become events. Bigger than merely boxing shows and his star is projected long beyond the parameters of the sport he’s graced with cheeky wit and brilliance for more than a decade.
Slinging a PPV tag on the fight is a necessary, whether the fight, on purely pugilistic criteria deserves the supposed accolade. You see the word ‘event’ doesn’t really sell after ‘free to air’ in quite the same way. Something of perceived value, regardless of how superficial, will often sell quicker than something worthy given away for free. This PPV tag made the simultaneous noises about giving something back to the fans ring a little hollow, perhaps the effort was made for those who roll up to the gate rather than those spectating from sofa side but I certainly didn’t feel looked after.
In the end I drew the line on PPV at Juan Lazcano. He was reasonably acceptable as an opponent for Hatton’s post-Mayweather rebuilding, but £14.99 extra?. Is it really a special fight? A categoric no. It’s important to stress I’ve drawn this metaphorical line before, but finally, finally I didn’t cross. I didn’t buy and I found the experience curiously liberating.
Reports suggest it was relatively entertaining but evidence of Hatton’s decline was once more evident. The subtleties, and shifting feet of his youth lost in the past three years and replaced by a gutsy, forward marching, face first brawler.
Clearly, with 57,000 paying punters at ringside and presumably a healthy response at the PPV ‘gate’ Ricky Hatton is very unlikely to be too concerned by my stand. I’d have loved to watch the fight. Just not enough to part with £14.99.
I’ll be back, reluctantly, for Malignaggi, just about.