The last bonafide professional boxer to share a ring with the great Floyd Mayweather has aired his views on the sport’s current state.
Andre Berto, who lost in twelve rounds to Floyd Mayweather in his swansong bout of a mammoth six-fight Showtime deal in 2015, is concerned about the road boxing is traveling down.
Countless exhibitions, old legends making comebacks, and YouTubers given precedent over young stars are quickly becoming the norm.
The last eighteen months have seen a seismic shift to promoters looking at social media followers over talent and new companies popping up, declaring they’ve reinvented how some believe they should showcase boxing.
It’s a tough pill to swallow for many of those who care deeply for our unique code.
The former two-time welterweight champion echoed what many already know is taking place as the game as we know it is fast morphing into WWE-style events with far more severe consequences.
As the saying goes, ‘you don’t play boxing’ – but there seem to be many people out there who don’t believe that is true.
Berto, for one, attempted to predict a future that is already in the early stages of coming to fruition.
“I slowly see boxing making a slow shift in the way the music business did. Like the record labels, promoters may stop investing in young talent and making them stars,” said Berto.
“Fighters will have to do the work and bring a solid social media presence to be a priority on the roster.
“True boxing will become saturated by “Boxing Entertainment.” Will the actual sweet science of boxing be lost?
“Will boxing promoters feel it’s a waste of time building and investing into a young talent from scratch?
“The club shows will be even more important for young fighters to build a buzz/following. IG (sic) pad work can only do so much.”
On how TV companies could also be in danger due to the focus on those online Pay Per Views, Berto concluded: “You have Triller’s “Fight Club,” YouTube vs. Tiktokers, and Mike Tyson’s “Legends Only League…etc.
“They will pull viewers because of celebrities and performers. But soon, the venues will be limited, dates will be limited, and everyone will be streaming. So No network, no problem.”
It’s a bleak future for the amateur level and just above, those fledgling professionals who build themselves from nothing to something.
A prime example of this was Manny Pacquiao, who fought his way out of the Philippines to get noticed stateside. Stories like this could soon become a thing of the past.
Boxing is becoming a social media sideshow. Those social media influencers are becoming influencers in boxing. Adding in professional fighters to call it a “boxing event.”
In reality, many of those shows are nothing to do with boxing. They could very much pass for a concert.
Add to that the fact a considerable portion of the crowd knows zero about those pros competing.
What have we become, and did Floyd Mayweather start it all?