Courtesy of Paddy Hobbs, Head of Sport at PR agency PrettyGreen
The countdown to the biggest sporting event of the year is underway. Anyone who argues differently or protests that they have no interest in watching is lying to themselves.
Combat sports don’t follow the same path as others in defining what makes an elite contest.
The most talented in your division? Great, but what’s your chat like? If it’s not up to much, the biggest fights might not be for you.
This isn’t a criticism in the slightest, more deserved praise of the sport’s growing embrace of one of the core marketing approaches available to them – hype.
With Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, you’re drowning in hype. No two athletes on the planet get the importance of generating it more than these two do and that’s exactly why this “first ever billion-dollar fight” is going to be huge.
They are of course both immensely talented within their own field but it’s their ability to know what sells and relentless willingness to push their manufactured personas through their social media channels and at press conferences that makes them box office.
The build-up to a big fight is now an event in itself. Slights in a pre-fight press conference are rarely truly off the cuff and instead carefully orchestrated to create headlines, increase conversation across social media, gain views and ultimately increase revenue through pay-per-view.
Manchester United are one of the richest sports clubs in the world. But would anyone other than the true die-hard fan tune-in to watch their pre-match press conference? When you compare to the pandemonium, pantomime and genuine enjoyment of those orchestrated by McGregor in particular, you could easily charge for this alone and nobody would feel short changed.
The clash of minds pre-fight may well outdo the clash of fists but no matter how much this fight is dismissed as a ridiculous mismatch, there are enough ‘ifs’ to make sure the hype train won’t be derailed, this will be the richest fight in boxing history and we’ll, perhaps secretly, enjoy every second of it.