Recently, Floyd Mayweather was called to speak in front of the Nevada regulatory board because of scenes in an “All Access” episode in which fighters fought a 31-minute round without a break. In the same episode there was a clip in which female friends of Floyd were shown smoking marijuana while Mayweather instructed one of his entourage to go out and get more rolling paper. In front of the board Mayweather suggested that those two instances were staged and not authentic. Shocker!
Could it be that Floyd just gave the fans one of the best reasons to turn him and the unreality TV part of boxing off? Not only does he pick his opponents instead of fighting the most deserving and dangerous ones. He even stages his pre-fight training sessions and personal life situations to sell tickets and enhance pay per view buys. This further leads us to question whether anything about him is authentic.
Personally, I never bought into or watched much of HBO 24/7 or Showtime All access before major bouts. And the reason for that is, like all reality TV, it’s mostly staged. If you want true reality, film an entity when they don’t know it’s being filmed. I’ve been in too many boxing gyms and part of many training camps and am well qualified to see that what goes out over the air on HBO and Showtime is mostly scripted. Everything produced during 24/7 and all access is done for one single reason, and that’s money. If you believe you are really getting an up close and personal sense of the fighters, you’re not. At least not to the point you think you are.
However, the production of those shows is terrific. The editing is superb and they always leave you wanting more. And the reason for that is because the networks and producers know how boxing fans, and sports fans, are extremely curious about fighters and athletes and what it’s like to be one. Especially a championship or Hall of Fame caliber one. And Floyd Mayweather understands this as much or more than the executives and producers of those shows do. Which is the reason why he’s always looking for an angle and new way to escalate things and take it to the next level.
Mayweather has said, “We’re promoting to a new, younger generation. We believe in going outside just boxing and doing things differently. Because we did things differently, we got better numbers this time around.” So in essence the entire thought behind the 31 minute round and his girlfriend’s smoking marijuana was done to increase pay-per-view buys among the younger audience. And that’s the reason why you got a screen play from him and his posse.
Pre-fight specials like 24/7 and All Access don’t bring the viewer’s closer to the fighters. They only let the fans see the side of them, whether it’s good or bad, that helps build a story for the fight. And this is done because the promoters and network broadcasting the bout aren’t satisfied with the millions they’ll make based on the merits of the fight alone. So they come up with a storyline that they believe will make the viewer take more of an interest into one of the fighters or a theme that accompanies the bout. The same applies to HBO’s “Hard-Knocks” before the start of each NFL season. You better believe if the camera is rolling, the action on and off the field is scripted as much as the plays the teams run on the field.
Today outrageousness sells. The substance of the fight or the surroundings during an NFL teams training camp is actually pretty boring after five minutes. Watching a fighter do exercises and running in the morning is pretty boring, regardless of how much they try to go high tech with it. The same things apply to football. Watching players sit through meetings and then bang the tackling sled is also mundane after five minutes unless there’s a fight or an argument. Therefore the network executives provide nothing but fluff and stories right out of the WWE or the soap opera “General Hospital.” And the fighters and players are more than happy to go along with it in the hope of making a name for themselves. Only the acting is terrible.
According to Floyd Mayweather, that type of stuff goes over with the younger viewers and helps spark interest in the fight, or team. And Floyd is right on the “Money” with that. But not here. I’ve been in too many gyms and know what really goes on during a fight camp. And it’s not what I’ve glimpsed on 24/7 or All Access during the few times I have actually watched those shows.
Why do Mayweather and the network executives treat and think that the viewers and fans are a bunch of complete and total idiots? Perhaps they just may have judged a majority of the audience correctly. That, and they look at the PPV buy numbers.
It’s not as if fights haven’t always been hyped in ways that aren’t 100% legit. But we’ve really gotten to the stage where almost nothing surrounding the fight is real.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com