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Australia’s Premier Boxing Series aims to win new fans with a new, non-gaming approach

Boxing always has trouble attracting new fans.

Amidst the multitude of punitive structures, poor refereeing decisions and infrequent TV coverage, sports fans in general seem to step back and say “why bother?”.

Problems that create a gap between a brand and a new potential audience are easy to spot, but hard to fix. There are too many competing interests, most in the game would say.

There is no cure for all sports problems. But small steps on a local scale can make a big difference.

Or to put it another way: raindrops, as the famous boxing trainer Bouie Fischer liked to say, can wear out a stone.

When Ace Boxing Promotions teamed up with Australian free-to-air streaming service 7plus to create the Premier Boxing Series, they changed the game. At least at home.

Two months and three shows into their partnership, and the Premier Boxing Series has cashed in: creating regular, mandatory tournaments that will turn casual fans into full-time members who were so-called “fancy”.

“We are very happy with the results,” said Glenn Hosking of Ace Boxing. “I think the audience has responded well to where we’re getting solid viewership numbers. There have been some good fights and some good talent has been discovered, so things are still going to work out so far.”

The latest bout on May 8 was headlined by an exciting six-round contest between former Australian cruiserweight champion Ben Kelleher and Joshua ‘Chucky’ Francis, which the visiting Kiwi won on points. It was a fitting end to a card that saw seven bouts broadcast in a three-hour TV spot. There is no filler in these shows, no gaps between fights and absolutely no auctions.

“That’s what we want, that speed,” said Hosking, who will be playing at the Southport Sharks AFL Club on the Gold Coast on May 29 when there will be an international competition between junior middleweights Dan Hill and Tae Kyun Kim and a women’s fight. between junior lightweights Deanha Hobbs and Angel Rushton, among others.

“Everybody does it differently. What we do is try to bring entertainment between the ropes as quickly as possible and show as many fighters as possible on our cards.

“That’s what we see as what the audience wants. They want to see more movement and less talk and that’s what we’re trying to deliver.”

The broadcast team of play-by-play announcer Andy Raymond and color analyst Nathan Di Carlo have worked together for years. A pairing that just works.

“Andy Raymond is very well known in Australian sport. “He’s worked with Fox Sports for a long time in motor racing and the NRL and boxing has been around forever, he’s almost the voice of boxing in Australia,” Hosking said.

“And what I appreciate most about Nathan’s comment is that there is no anointing about it. He calls it as he sees it. You may not agree with it, but he’s not going to blow anyone’s smoke.

“I feel that the audience is not stupid. They know what they are looking at. And Nathan’s role is to give some details where he can, but to be honest with the audience. He is not a fanboy commentator, he is very honest in what he thinks and sees. I think it sounds good.

“I think they are a great team. They get along well, even with chalk and cheese, but sometimes that’s a good thing.”

Ace Boxing was started by Angelo Di Carlo over two decades ago and the promotion company has fielded an incredible 123 cards in that time. Competitive wrestling has always been a staple of Ace’s shows and although Di Carlo has taken a step back from the business recently to focus on his personal life, the company is still committed to delivering fights that are good for the fans.

“Angelo has been matching the best cards in Australia for the past 24 years,” Hosking said. “Everybody in Australia knows that and almost everybody has seen it. But it’s not something we just did, it’s been going on for 24 years.”

Ace Boxing will present programs across the country with other interstate promoters under the Premier Boxing Series banner. The first will be with Team Ellis at the Melbourne Pavilion when fan favorite Jack Brubaker challenges Mitchell Leek for his Australian middleweight belt on June 19. Other bouts are scheduled for Sydney and Perth.

“We have fighters that we encourage but we also work with everyone in boxing,” continued Hosking. “We want to show the public what good fights look like. We are not interested in matching or entering personal records or anything like that. We want to put on good, good, even fights and let them get out of the ring, which is what sports is all about.”

An audience-centered approach seems to bear good fruit.

“I agree with that. And that’s probably the most important thing to us. We don’t take our audience for granted and introduce them to something and tell them what they are watching. We want them to make their own decisions,” said Hosking.

“As you know in boxing, when it comes to decisions, you and I can watch the same fight and have different opinions about who won and how they lost and everything else. Part of the beauty of the game is that people can look at the same thing and see it from a different perspective.

“Bringing high-quality fights is a priority for us, rather than trying to make stars or record people’s records for the sake of it. We’re just looking to fight the best fights we can.”

All of these may seem like small steps in the local market, but they are already making a difference to the level of boxing we see on our screens.

The raindrops break down the stone.

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