By Frank Warren
LIKE FOR AMBITIOUS recording artists with global aspirations, the name of the game is to crack America – and it is much the same when it comes to boxing.
This is why I am so pleased that two of our more recognisable names are being given the opportunity to perform and shine across the Atlantic.
Daniel Dubois and Tommy Fury will take their places on the big Showtime PPV card in Cleveland on Sunday August 29, where leading ‘content creator’ Jake Paul takes his next step as a professional boxer with a highly-anticipated – mostly in younger circles – clash with MMA star Tyron Woodley.
I have been asked on a fairly frequent occasions over the last couple of years to offer up a few soundbites on the emergence of YouTube boxing. I would imagine the inquisitors expected a pretty robust negative response from a grizzled old timer like myself and, I won’t lie, it isn’t particularly my cup of tea.
What I have insisted, all along, is that I have absolutely no issue with any young people – celebrities or not – whipping themselves into shape and having a bash at boxing. If they can make a truck load of money doing so, good for them.
So I am in no way anti Jake Paul doing his thing and, in turn, capitalising on the huge following he has cultivated over the years via his YouTube exploits. From what I understand he certainly puts the graft in and is not devoid of fistic ability.
This is why I am more than happy to accept this Golden Ticket for Daniel and Tommy to massively increase awareness of their talents on such a huge platform.
In the case of Tommy, jumping on a Jake Paul card makes perfect sense. The pair have been circling each other with intent on social media and, if it can be done, it looks like a match made in cyberspace. They both bring big numbers to the table, with Tommy’s profile having grown enormously since his summer of love on Love Island and Jake via his YouTube platform and subsequent venture into the fight game.
Adding Tommy to this show against Jake’s sparring partner Anthony ‘Pretty Boy’ Taylor will kind of test the waters ahead of a potential showdown and it will doubtless be lively having them in the same room together during the fight week build-up.
When it first became evident that there was something brewing between the pair we got in touch with Jake’s people to see if there was business to be done. He then linked up with Showtime and talks intensified to bring us to where we are today.
Unlike many of the other celebrity encounters, this would not be a gimmick fight. True, Jake doesn’t have a boxing background, but he is a capable young athlete who is working hard at it. And Tommy remains in the novice category and had no significant amateur activity himself.
We will see how it all plays out and await the outcome of their respective fights on August 29. One thing is for sure, a fight between these two would be a lucrative affair for both and, at the end of the day, they are in this sport to make a good living.
For Daniel there is a bigger picture. He has got his eyes set on the big heavyweight prize and the more eyeballs that watch him along the way, the better. Like it or not, the USA is a crucial market to enter in order to maximise your returns as a big player in the heavyweight division.
The biggest heavyweight world title fights require the might of US pay-per-view to generate the bumper pay days and you can’t roll up on the night as an unknown and expect the US public to buy into it.
Elite fighters, which I believe Daniel will become, need building globally and America is the keynote destination for succeeding in this process. Nearly all of the current leading British heavyweights have fought in the US. Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Joe Joyce have performed Stateside, while I understand Dillian Whyte is preparing to do likewise.
So Daniel needs to put his own marker down and he is up against a good opponent in Joe Cusamano, who has plenty of knockouts and has never succumbed to one himself.
As a company we have had a long relationship with Showtime and we worked together successfully in the past. Now we have re-engaged there will be the obvious potential in the future for more of our young stars to follow suit and trade leather in the American market.
Showtime is a platform steeped in boxing and a reputation for staging the biggest fights in the sport. Now it is time for the Queensberry Two to step up and steal the show.