The Beltline: Do we hear and know too much about boxers today? – Boxing news

As well as the prospect of actually seeing it happen, much of the appeal of Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk agreeing to an April 29 heavyweight fight was that, by doing so, Fury promised to begin a social media blackout and focus exclusively on training.

Of course, given it was Fury, this was a promise you had to take with a pinch of salt, no different than before regarding retirement or handing out punch bags to the homeless. But still, for about 24 hours, it seemed as if Fury, so entertaining in the small— very small – doses, would stay true to his word and leave his phone alone, thus sparing the world a few more ugly text videos and maybe even giving us the chance, in his absence, to miss him.

It was unfortunately a promise Fury couldn't keep. He couldn't hold it because Fury vs. Usyk was a fight that was destined to never materialize, meaning two boxers fumbled a payday and we, the payers, were not only robbed of seeing the two best heavyweights in the world share a ring, but then endured additional videos of Fury calling Usyk all sorts of names and blaming his rival for the fight not happening.

For us, the viewers, it was just annoying. It added insult to injury, it seemed like a desperate attempt to control the narrative, and it also served as a reminder of how boring even the most typically entertaining boxers can be if they end up just selling wolf tickets.

Because although these days we are quick to equate accessibility with a better product or experience, sometimes the truth is the opposite. Sometimes there is a reason why people, including boxers, have to earn the right to be heard and listened to. Sometimes part of a person's appeal lies in an air of mystery, something that is shattered the moment they reveal everything about themselves on a daily basis.

It's a weird dichotomy, I'll admit. On the one hand, we want to feel closer to these athletes and gain a greater understanding of how they train and what makes them tick, but on the other hand, it's often when you get this kind of access that you open yourself up. disappointingly, in boxing as in life.

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Certainly this was not even an option in years past. You had the press conference to announce the fight, and then you had about eight weeks of silence—perhaps punctuated by the occasional in-depth and considered written piece—until fight week arrived. For big pay-per-view fights, you'd later have HBO's 24/7 and other countdown shows like that, but even with those shows, a lot of what got you excited was the element of mystery and surprise on fight night. To not know. What about? element. The feeling of being left in the dark.

Then, of course, you slowly started seeing footage of the two headliners in the locker rooms with their hands wrapped, and you'd see them walk to the ring, and you'd wait for the tenterhooks for the first bell to sound. They weren't even human at that moment, these men. They were slightly larger. Something better. Almost alien.

It probably felt this way because we knew little about them beyond what they produced as boxers in the ring; where, of course, they were most expressive and most brilliant. Thank goodness we didn't have to read their poorly written and researched opinions on race, gender, immigration, school shootings, celebrity deaths, or vaccines. We also didn't need to see our heroes smile in front of Anne Frank's house for an Instagram photo, or read their desperate attempts to explain why OnlyFans is the BEST WAY to bring them EVEN CLOSER to their followers. “Stay away,” we might have said in the event of that. “This distance is just fine, thank you.”

Because if there's one thing I know, having followed the sport both before social media and now, in the mire, it's that boxers are never more fascinating than when they're either talking about boxing or simply boxing. There's a need for the other stuff, I accept that, but when fight week comes around and the idea of ​​listening to the boxers involved isn't something you anticipate but rather something that feels as glitzy as washing the dishes, you know you're dealing with a serious case of exaggeration.

It's common these days too. Indeed, there are many boxers whose obsession with telling strangers all their thoughts, be it on social media or in front of either a camera or smartphone, has made them almost unbearable to follow, both on those platforms and in turn in ring. These are often good boxers too, boxers that 10 or 15 years ago I would have found compelling. And yet, because there is such an emphasis today on becoming a “brand” or a “personality,” they have almost prostituted what was once their unique selling point: their boxing ability.

In the case of Fury and Usyk, as exciting as it was for a few days, when it seemed like it was going somewhere, no one really needed to see all those captions and hear all those cruel names being called. In fact, even Frank Warren, the fight's promoter, told talkSPORT last week: “You know what killed this? Social media. All the hype on social media.”

Besides, Fury and Usyk had chosen it not engage in a public display of incompetence, many of us would have been none the wiser as to the progress of the negotiations and therefore, when both finally made a pig's ear of it, the backlash, as a result of this ignorance, would have been far from as bad as it got.

But because we're all now chronically online, and because we've all been conditioned to believe that nothing we do is of value unless other people know about it, boxers like Tyson Fury can't help themselves. And if you think this makes the fights harder to arrange, take a moment and consider how hard it will be for these chronically online boxers to one day kiss relevance goodbye and walk away and retire.

Tyson Fury surrounded by cameramen at Wembley Stadium ahead of his 2022 fight against Dillian Whyte (ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

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