I doubt it has gone unnoticed that Bloody Elbow is doing a bit of coverage of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley fight on Showtime pay-per-view this weekend. It'd be dishonest to say that traffic is not motivating this in any way. Of course we want to do good traffic numbers, bringing in readers is what keeps a site like this going. I would never advocate for boxing getting a disproportionate amount of coverage on the same week as a major mixed martial arts event, but there simply is nothing near the scale of Pacquiao/Mosley going on in the world of MMA this weekend.
Beyond the traffic interests, we have always covered major boxing events as well as stories that interest us from the world of boxing. Just as we cover ADCC, the NCAA wrestling championships, occasional K-1 events and so on. We're a multifaceted combat sports site and I think that our broad coverage is a very good thing.
A certain segment of MMA fans can tend to get overly defensive about boxing coverage on this site (and others) because they feel that there is some grand war for attention between the two sports, or that the success of one means the demise of the other. Simply put, it's all nonsense. If anything, many executives in both sports feel that there is a positive relationship that can exist between the two sports.
In many ways boxing has been made better by the growth of mixed martial arts. Fights more appropriate for premium cable have been forced off pay-per-view, ideas like the Super Six (despite failures in execution) came out of the view that the sport needed to take new risks and now promotional entities like Top Rank Boxing (which presents Saturday's event) have learned lessons from the UFC's new-media successes.
Additionally, the UFC traditionally streams event interviews and press conferences for fans from around the globe. Boxing enthusiasts will have access to these things and more with the Pacquaio vs. Mosley stream, which is being offered at Top Rank Boxing's official website, as well as Yahoo! Sports' boxing page, for $54.99.
UFC president Dana White often has said the future of all entertainment delivery lies with the Internet. duBoef believes the online stream is more of a supplemental platform, but he does agree there is demand for the product.
"I think if it's my perspective or Dana's perspective, we may be saying the same things, but I wouldn't say that we are revolutionary in that thought," duBoef said. "We're watching the Olympics that were delivered on an online basis simultaneously to traditional distribution over television with NBC. You turn on the Sunday night NFL game on NBC, and they're telling you to go to their online portal. The Masters was delivered online. All this content is another mechanism. It's another distribution avenue. I think the unique thing about it is that it hasn't really been explored on the pay model. Most of those are free offerings. Now that we know we have pay-per-view customer base and we have the technology that can keep the signal encrypted and secured, we feel comfortable now with allowing it to supplement our distribution.
"I don't believe it's going to take away from our current distribution models. I think it's just going to supplement it. There are plenty of kids in college that don't have a cable box in their rooms, but they have a laptop."
They also touched on the idea of the competition between boxing and mixed martial arts:
UFC boss White is expected to attend Saturday night's fight in Las Vegas, just as he's attended several of Pacquiao's previous bouts. The MMA head honcho often says he's still a fan of boxing, and duBoef believes there's no reason the two sports can't coexist. In fact, duBoef said his company's studies show that the two sports rarely battle for the same dollar and actually could benefit from each other with some strategic positioning.
"I actually love the synergies of the two sports together as you would bundle the fight category," duBoef said. "It's not just my view. My data tells me there's only a seven percent overlap of customers. That's it, and that's empirical data, which I think is good for both of us because if someone is engaged in MMA, they may also think, 'Hey, I want to give this Manny Pacquaio a shot. He's an exciting guy.' Somebody in boxing may think, 'This Georges St-Pierre, I've heard a lot about him. He's drawing big crowds. I want to see him fight.' I think if you look at the two sports as the fight category, I think there's wonderful synergies between the two. I don't see one audience eating up another's appeal.
"I think there's a huge opportunity for growth, and I think the opportunity is not one that eats into each other. I would say that because of boxing's history, you have a more embedded fanbase in older genres, and those people could possibly want to give MMA a chance, and vice versa. There are some of those younger MMA fans that are glued to Spike TV and reading online blogs that may want to give boxing a chance. I don't demean MMA's product, and I think it's important for MMA not to demean the product of boxing because the synergies together are wonderful. I think there are greater opportunities that way rather than looking at it as a competition."
DuBuef's stance is actually very in line with my own when it comes to the synergistic relationship that exists. When I touched on the reasons I write about boxing on this site, but I left one out. I love boxing, and I want to encourage people to give the sport a try. That love of the sport of boxing is why I run pieces like I did a few weeks back about the tremendous fight between Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz. Similarly, that is why I would encourage people to check out Manny Pacquiao. He is a boxer with an easy to understand and appreciate style, not reliant on the clinch to break up opponent rhythms or reliant on fancy defensive maneuvering.
There are great things about boxing and my feeling is that people should be encouraged to watch this relative of mixed martial arts and at least give it a chance.