Sound For Sound is a recurring column that further explores the relationship of rhythm and boxing by celebrating the music that influences and motivates fighters as they prepare for, and to excel under, the game’s brightest of lights
The game, boxing, is down bad. There’s no other way to look at it.
The USA’s best fight, if not the sport’s best fight, is in at least its third or fourth year without being made. Fans were told unified Welterweight champion Errol “The Truth” Spence, Jr. and WBO champion Terence “Bud” Crawford agreed on all terms for an undisputed championship bout in mid-November. Instead, some fans received a $40 consolation prize from boxing newcomer BLK Prime who delivered Crawford’s devastating, yet predictable, sixth round knockout of David Avanesyan in a pay-per-view main event.
Here it is mid-February, just a few bouts have happened in 2023, only Matchroom/DAZN has provided a schedule of fights, and most matchups with any notable name(s) involved is headed to PPV.
|Match Up||Weight Class & No. of Rounds||Broadcast Platform||Date||Cost|
|Jake Paul vs. Tommy Fury||Cruiserweight/12 Rds||ESPN+ PPV||Sat., Feb. 25, 2023||$49.99|
|Adrien Broner vs. Michael Williams Jr.||Welterweight/12 Rds||BLK PPV||Sat., Feb. 25, 2023||$39.99|
|David Benavidez vs. Caleb Plant||Super Middleweight/12 Rds||Showtime PPV||Sat., Mar. 25, 2023||TBD|
|Canelo Alvarez vs. John Ryder||Super Middleweight Undisputed Championship/12 Rds||DAZN||Sat., May 6, 2023||TBD|
In addition to the four aforementioned fights, a few other bouts planned for PPV have been rumored for months. The following are still officially unannounced but expected before June:
- Errol Spence, Jr. vs Keith Thurman (non-title 154-pound fight on Showtime PPV)
- Devin Haney vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko (likely ESPN PPV/ESPN+ PPV)
- Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia (Showtime PPV on April 15)
Canelo Alvarez’s return against UK’s John Ryder – on his Cinco de Mayo weekend – is expected to land in Mexico per ESPN’s Mike Coppinger who reported the development in a recent article.
While US fans won’t have to pay any money outside of a monthly DAZN subscription to watch former unified Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua attempt to restart his career versus one-loss Jermaine Franklin, the same can’t be said for a potential undisputed Heavyweight championship between WBC and lineal champion Tyson Fury and unified champion Oleksandr Usyk. Fury-Usyk inexplicably remains unsigned.
Between the combination of scheduled fights, and the few still in-the-works, fans are looking at seven fights totaling around $450. This excludes monthly subscriptions for Showtime, ESPN+ or DAZN. Furthermore, only two of them actually involve a world championship being contested – Haney and Alvarez’s undisputed crowns.
All told, the next few months of boxing will force an already incorrigible fanbase either past a point of no return, or for some “The Balancing Act.” In other words, some money conscious fans may start to pay closer attention to managing monthly subscription fees, the total money spent on PPVs, or even the time spent tracking which platform is broadcasting a particular bout. Ain’t like Sports Center provides the results of all these fights.
Maybe 2023 is the year where the Last Rites can finally be read for boxing. Prizefighting dates back to the top of 16th century in England, but boxing appeared in an Ancient Greece Olympiad with a three-digit year followed by “BC.”
Dedicated to who you knew and all that he knew of you
In loving memory, call this a living funeral – Skyzoo on “The Balancing Act”
Skyzoo Takes Fandom to New Heights With Help of The Other Guys
Back on January 13, esteemed Brooklyn, New York lyricist Skyzoo teamed up with D.C.-based production duo The Other Guys (Joe and Isaiah) to over-deliver for hip hop fans. The trio released an LP entitled The Mind of A Saint, a suite comprised of 10 tracks that essentially serve as a companion piece to FX’s John Singleton-created series Snowfall. Over the 10 adroitly produced records Skyzoo verbally takes listeners on a re-watch of the show’s five seasons through a first-person turn as lead character Franklin Saint.
Naturally, for a Sound For Sound installment, I’d immediately jump to Sky’s boxing reference to Brooklyn’s own:
How I caught a play, went to Oakland, got the science right
Bricks got the duffle bags looking like they’re Iron Mike, bet I’m the messiah type
Fortunately for fans in the mid-1980s, “Iron” Mike Tyson was box-office. By age 20, after knocking out then-WBC champion Trevor Berbick to become the youngest Heavyweight champion in history, Tyson quickly started receiving his own duffle bags with a series of increasingly large fight purses. “The Baddest Man on the Planet” became the first to hold the WBA and IBF titles, along with the WBC belt, to become the division’s undisputed champion. The only complaint about Tyson’s PPVs was that fans had a hard time paying $50-$60 for a fight that wasn’t expected to go more than a round or two.
“The Balancing Act”, the seventh track on TMOAS, is a mid-tempo record with a funky bassline that slithers along under enchanting strings accentuated by some crisp horns while Skyzoo, or Saint, boasts of his prowess at running all facets of his burgeoning business. In just a short time Saint forged a solid working relationship with a reliable distributor of high-grade cocaine, mastered converting raw product into lesser expensive yet highly addictive crack, and then assembled a multi-layered street organization to handle all the key areas of operations.
After the second verse Skyzoo brags, “Supplying ain’t no object, baby, I mean there’s never been a time where I couldn’t get things where they needed to go to, right.” Later after the third verse in the song’s outro moments, Skyzoo unabashedly shares that he amassed “70 Ms” as a result of his ability to “juggle them hats” to navigate both the “pros and cons” and the “high and lows” of the game.
Perhaps boxing could use a young Saint… I’d loved to take a second to unpack that the Los Angelino Franklin Saint is loosely based on, “Freeway” Rick Ross, has launched his own promotions outfit. But, Ross’ company is in its infancy, and his effectiveness in boxing is yet to be determined.
Sound-wise “The Balancing Act”, as well as parts of the second half of TMOAS, leans more toward the soulfulness of Livin’ Like Hustlers more so than the G-funk of The Chronic or Doggystyle. Over the course of the 10 tracks Skyzoo bodies each equally. However, it’s on “Balancing” where we find Skyzoo’s Franklin well beyond the album’s earlier planning stages, or at the end after the weight of the game’s top spot has become far too much to shoulder. Over the final songs of TMOAS Skyzoo concedes to the game’s imprisonment of his free will, but in third and final verse of “Balancing” Skyzoo speaks admirably about the code of the streets by which he chooses to abide.
They say my Fox Ford drive like my box Porsche
But I can’t yay or nay it, I just get dropped off
I’m guessing I’m not y’all, re-ups and stock calls
From where your bail bondsman plans on roping your block off
Chrome in the top drawer, been here before, won’t be my last go
Come with a duffle open, leave with a body bag closed
Cost of doing business, I see as no prob at all
Delicate touch, to a ki’ (key) I’m Ahmad Jamal
For more on TMOAS click HERE for this writer’s interview with the album’s creators Skyzoo & The Other Guys.
Boxing’s Loyal Fans and The Game That We Have
Frank-ly, after sitting idle during the pandemic with episodes of the the Earn Your Leisure podcast, reading Instagram posts from Ritholtz Wealth CEO and CNBC personality Josh Brown (an EYL guest), or even learning about the real estate ventures of The Breakfast Club’s DJ Envy and partner Cesar Piña; I’m simply not spending $450 on the 2023 version of pay-per-view boxing. I’ve watched Jermell Charlo become undisputed champion in a once deeply-talented Super Welterweight division. The unofficial 154-pound tournament played out over 4-5 years, and only cost fans their monthly Showtime subscription.
Yes, Benavidez is a two-time former 168-pound champion. And yes, Plant held the IBF title until his November 2021 PPV debut, in which he was stopped by Alvarez in the 11th round of their undisputed championship. Alvarez is still the division kingpin, Benavidez and Plant aren’t fighting for a title, and they have zero unification victories between the two. The fight should be good, there’s a healthy rivalry between the two, but why does it cost me $74.99 again?
As mentioned earlier, yes, most PPVs are $74.99 now, but fans are still strapped with monthly subscriptions for up to three to four other platforms that feature boxing. These could range from $7 to $20 per month, depending on whether any streaming apps are being bundled. Fans necks are snapping while trying to watch numerous screens on Saturday nights. Fights can air on ESPN+, FITE TV, BLK PPV, DAZN, and then fans might need to sign up on other platforms for some international fights. All this and we still can’t get the best versus the best all that often?
I guess the state of boxing is tantamount to Skyzoo’s realization earlier on TMOAS when he spit:
Panther in my blood, shameful of my business
But the way business been going, shame ain’t too expensive – Skyzoo on “Panthers & Powder”
We’ll all have to wait and see how the yet-to-be-unveiled schedule(s) look for 2023. And maybe in December, if things do screech to a halt, boxing’s power brokers will come to the conclusion that apologies are in order.
RIP David “Trugoy the Dove” Jolicoeur aka Plug Two aka Dave
Featured image courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions
Skyzoo & The Other Guys. (2023). The balancing act [Song]. On The Mind of a saint. First Generation Rich; HIPNOTT.
All lyrics were taken from Genius