The Beltline: If you never buy a ticket, how much is your opinion really worth?

One morning, a decade ago, I received a series of angry emails from boxing fans. They were upset because of an injury and cancellation that had ruined their Saturday night. They believed that I, as part of a cover-up, was hiding a secret. In addition to wanting refunds, they demanded the truth and felt entitled to it. They wanted to know why their plans had fallen apart so suddenly, just a week before the fight, and what we, as the promoter, would do about it. Some even claimed to have lost trust in us and vowed never to buy a ticket for a fight again, whether promoted by us or anyone else.
As instructed, I stayed silent and followed the process. I was reminded that thick skin was necessary to operate in the boxing industry and that I shouldn’t feel sorry for these disgruntled fans. It was important to learn when to confront challenges head-on. In time, I came to understand that to be successful in this industry, one had to develop a sense of detachment and a sense of superiority, compartmentalizing fans’ opinions as irrelevant. However, it was only with distance and maturity that I truly grasped this concept.
Reflecting on that time, as I wrote yet another press release about a canceled fight, I couldn’t help but sympathize with the disappointed fans. I, too, had experienced the letdown of buying tickets to a fight that was later rescheduled due to an injury or illness. I questioned the legitimacy of those reasons and desired an outlet for my frustration. However, I would have received no response in those situations, just as I was instructed to remain silent now.
Fortunately, I was fortunate enough to secure a position in the sport that allowed me to attend fights for free. Whether as a press officer or journalist, I had the privilege of accessing the fights without worrying about expenses or ruined plans. As one of the privileged few, I no longer cared about the concerns of paying fans; their issues no longer affected me. I could now focus on fighters and the fights themselves, enjoying unparalleled access.
However, I was not alone in adopting this mindset. When journalists and people at press conferences pose questions to promoters and others in the sport, they often forget to address the soaring ticket prices in 2023. This issue, a major concern in boxing and sports in general, is conveniently overlooked by promoters. Journalists fail to care about the struggles fans face, such as paying exorbitant prices for the worst seats or spending over 250 pounds to avoid watching fights on a screen. Journalists have no qualms because they are comfortably seated in their complimentary ringside spots.
Consider this nightmarish scenario: completely empty arenas where only promoters, family members, influencers, sheikhs, and starry-eyed content creators armed with phones and cameras are present. Meanwhile, fans, the ones who actually fund the events, are nonexistent. Thankfully, there are examples from recent years that prove this scenario is possible. This is boxing, after all; where there’s a will, there’s a way. Furthermore, Neil Diamond sounds just as good singing “Sweet Caroline” alone.
It begs the question: would fans even be considered important if not for their money? Sadly, we’ve witnessed evidence of this through the endorsement and dependence on secondary ticketing websites, inflated ticket prices, and the mistreatment of fans when fights are canceled. We’ve also seen promoters smugly funding events through other means, known only to them, thereby disregarding the value of fans altogether. Despite boxing’s current unattractive state, it is crucial to respect and appreciate those, like the readers of this publication, who still appreciate its beauty and see beyond its flaws.
Moreover, as boxing continues to struggle for an identity in 2023, it is not the boxers, promoters, or media personnel who should be considered its saviors. It is the fans. They are the ones who continue to support the sport by purchasing Boxing News and attending events, despite the risk of disappointment. They are quick to forgive and understand the essence of boxing when it is at its best, putting them first. (If only the boxers would reciprocate this sentiment once the opening bell rings.)

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