The signing and subsequent disaster that is the Jake Paul deal with Showtime Boxing could spell the end of the network in 2023, World Boxing News understands.
Several reports in the media suggest Showtime will at least get downgraded in the coming months after signing Paul failed to turn around the fortunes of the ailing boxing program.
Showtime Boxing may not survive the Jake Paul deal
Suggestions Showtime Boxing will cease next year come with some foundation and would spell another significant loss for the sport.
HBO Boxing, a much-loved and integral part of boxing’s fabric, closed in 2018. Five years later, the same could happen to Showtime.
Showtime signed Jake Paul in a blaze of glory. However, it was a bold, stunning and polarizing move. They thought the YouTuber would bring his 50 million followers with him and give their coverage a massive shot in the arm.
When announcing the deal, hopes were high despite Triller stating Paul was done in boxing.
Former President Ryan Kavanaugh said, “We had our two fights with him.
“I think we’ve gone the distance with him that we can go. We won’t be doing any more Jake fights.”
Signing Jake Paul
Picking up the slack in May 2021, Showtime Boxing boss Stephen Espinoza told MMA Junkie: “These guys [YouTubers] are doing serious training camps, going to Puerto Rico, spending time.
“I know the guys who sparred with them. I know the guys who train them. Is he at the start of his career, and does he have things he needs to work on? Absolutely.
“But that doesn’t mean he’s not a legitimate participant in the sport. It means he’s a young fighter, a young fighter with a huge following.”
Espinoza also stated the fact Paul made his name pulling pranks on YouTube shouldn’t have a bearing on his boxing career.
“I think if it were any other following than social media, people wouldn’t give him a doubt,” Espinoza said.
“If he made his name in the Olympics and came in, no one would ask questions.
“He just happened to make his name in social media, and he’s a talented young athlete.”
50 million followers – 200,000 sales
Fast forward three fights and a lot of hot air publicity later, Paul is currently staring at a boxing career abyss on an alternative network.
His first fight with Tyron Woodley did okay. All seemed rosy in the garden. However, their rematch and the fight with Tommy Fury falling apart hurt the whole show.
Eventually, they had to settle on a reported 65,000 buys. The latest offering against opponent Anderson Silva also bombed despite mass advertising.
The bout ended with Paul dropping Silva with a debated right hand. The blow was all-important for the final unanimous decision at the Desert Diamond Arena last Saturday night.
Paul predicted 700,000 sales of the Silva fight. In the end, he estimates 200,000 to 300,000 without a final tally confirmed.
The last time Paul made a statement like that, the purchases were actually far lower. Paul vs Silva could be around the same ballpark as Woodley II.
Speaking to his brother Logan, now a WWE star after trying boxing, Jake blamed several factors except his inability to fight to a high standard.
“On Wednesday, when the news came out about Anderson saying he got knocked out [in sparring] or whatever, the fight was in jeopardy. All this press came out, the pre-buys tanked,” Paul said.
“The general public sees that and thinks it’s not happening. Tommy [Fury] pulled out. Hasim [Rahman] pulled out. ‘Jake Paul can’t get an event together. This is done.
“It killed ticket sales. We were still selling tickets, but that day everything went to zero. It was so annoying.
“I think it will probably go around 200,000 – 300,000, which is upsetting.
“This is the worst time of the year to fight, but guess what? I had to fight.
“All of my fights from now on will be in the summer. There are no sports,” he outlined. “There’s like this perfect gap in July and early August when there are no sports.
“All my other fights were during Covid when no one had anything to do and anything to watch. NBA, NFL, nothing was on.
“I had to fight this year. But I just had to get it done. I was tired of waiting around.”
Showtime can ill-afford this flop, especially from someone with a reach of 50 million followers.
In 2018, when HBO was about to fold, promoter Bob Arum predicted this happening to Sirius XM.
“Both HBO and Showtime are competing for viewers with Netflix. So every dollar they have has to go into what they’re great at – providing entertainment.
“HBO certainly has done it. They have really, really good, good programming. And so does Showtime.
“So I’m also predicting that Showtime will be exiting from boxing within the next year because, as great as they’ve been for boxing, they don’t belong.
“Does Fox belong in boxing? Of course, they do. They’re a regular network that has a lot of sports. ESPN is perfect for boxing. That’s where it’s going.”
Pitting Paul against Nate Diaz in a bout next and giving him the mouthpiece to declare he can become a world champion or beat Canelo Alvarez has certainly backfired.
The kid must fight off the haters and doubters by facing a real boxer with a pulse.
Their time in boxing could be over after many years as they join HBO in the boxing graveyard unless something drastically changes.
Signing real star boxers and giving them the platform afforded to Paul would be a start.
Premier Boxing Champions, who have come under fire for not making the fights fans want to see, could also be in trouble.
Unless there is a massive shake-up and a change of attitudes from many at the top of the sport, the backlash will continue, and nobody is safe.
The views expressed in this article are the opinions of Phil Jay.