What Triller Said About Boxing

I said in an article earlier this week that the Triller pay-per-view of Youtube star, Jake Paul vs. former MMA fighter, Ben Askren was a sideshow fight that was all sizzle and no substance. I was correct, depending on your definition of sizzle. It remains to be seen, but if this circus actually drew a number then traditional boxing might find itself referred to as a sport of the past, almost the same point it reached around 2010 when the UFC spent the previous five years carving a piece of the pay-per-view pie that the politics of boxing left on the table.

More importantly, if Triller will become the known example of “boxing” in the United States, the sport might be better off known as something of the past.

Attempting to explain every detail of this train wreck would be impossible and a crime against humanity. However, there are important points to be made because as mentioned, the effectiveness or lack thereof could have a major impact on the marketability of boxing.

As far as the broad strokes, the fact that the broadcast had four fights in four hours tells you this show had a lot of stalling, and more often than not, it appeared that the director of the production might’ve spent some time with Snoop Dogg before the show went on-air. There were random camera cuts away from the action, unexplained video packages, and backstage segments that could’ve been written by Vince Russo. The announce team, which consisted of a rotating group of individuals, based on who happened to wandering toward the desk, would start conversations with others off-screen so the viewing audience would occasional hear one side of a conversation that had nothing to do with the event.

The viewing experience for this show was like a car wreck in Doc Brown’s DeLorean that destroyed the space time continuum.

About 45 minutes into the pay-per-view Joe Fournier, a businessman from England that has actually pursued a career in boxing that brought a record of 8-0 into the bout, ended the opening contest after two rounds when Reykon, a music artist, couldn’t answer the bell. Yes, a 38-year-old novice beat a singer with no fight experience to start the event.

After that, there was a musical performance that had more lip syncing than Milli Vanilli. A dozen dancers twerking couldn’t save this segment. Next, somehow, Ric Flair was in attendance to officiate a slap fight, which is the literal explanation of what happened, not figurative. I have to be honest, as much as I’m a fan of Ric Flair, and it’s nice that he finally got some pop culture recognition in recent years, someone of Flair’s status involved with two yokels slapping each other is just embarrassing. I hope “The Nature Boy” got a good payday for this appearance because it’s well-documented that he had many financial problems, but still, signing autographs at Big Bob’s card shop would’ve been a better option.

Former UFC heavyweight champion, Frank Mir made his pro boxing debut in a six-round contest. Antonio Tarver, who hasn’t fought in nearly six years, was originally scheduled for the fight, but wasn’t cleared by the athletic commission so he was replaced by Steve Cunningham, who hadn’t competed in four years. The 41-year-old Mir went on a four-fight skid in Bellator before he concluded his tenure with a victory over Roy Nelson in October 2019. I’m guessing his limited options in MMA are what led him to boxing. Cunningham was a decent boxer, but not necessarily a threat to KO Mir, who outweighed his opponent by 70 pounds for the fight. Cunningham won a one-sided decision that didn’t have much action.

However, during the bout, former champion Oscar De La Hoya, who is scheduled to make a comeback under the Triller banner in July, was at the commentary desk. Oscar, who has well-known substance abuse problems and went to rehab more than once, appeared to be extremely intoxicated on camera. The 1992 gold medalist has admitted to problems with alcohol and cocaine in the years since his retirement. Obviously, in more recent years, a lot more is known about the medical use of marijuana, and clearly, Snoop Dogg smoking on live pay-per-view isn’t a problem for him. However, anyone with a substance problem of any kind probably shouldn’t be around an environment with marijuana and alcohol readily available, the same way someone that has a problem with alcohol probably shouldn’t be at a bar. It’s not a matter of morality because while Snoop Dogg can smoke without incident, Oscar is just a different person with a different reaction. Without a doubt, Oscar was intoxicated and the fact that a camera was put on him and shown on picture-in-picture during the fight, it seemed very exploitative by the organization. Oscar shouldn’t have been on camera, and the way more attention was drawn to his slurred words and inebriated appearance was a way for Triller to get some “red meat” to get attention on social media. The only thing for sure from the entire segment is Oscar De La Hoya shouldn’t be anywhere near competition, despite the plans for a return.

In the only bout on the card that featured two legitimate boxers, Regis Prograis beat Ivan Redkach via stoppage in the sixth round under completely illegitimate circumstances. Redkach was behind on the score cards and feigned a low blow when it was actually just a body shot. Lex Luger did a better job selling in his second WCW run than Redkach trying to find a way to avoid the fight. Several replays showed that the punch was nowhere near a low blow, but he stayed with the act, rolling around on the canvas under a stretcher was brought to ringside. It was one of the most bizarre incidents I’ve seen at a boxing event, and it was a phony finish on an already gimmick pay-per-view.

After four hours of horrendous production value, Pete Davidson material that got rejected at Saturday Night Live, uninspiring music acts, Oscar De La Hoya about as coherent as The Sandman during peak ECW, and a phony finish to the previous fight, it was time for the main event.

Ben Askren entered the ring after it appeared he followed the Homer Simpson training program to prepare for it. It was clear that Askren was just there for the payday when he looked very doughy compared to his last UFC appearance just a year and a half ago. Askren was never known as a striker during his MMA career, but barely attempted to throw an actual punch before he was hit with one clean shot that immediately sent him crashing to the canvas. The referee stopped the bout in less than two minutes into the first round. Jake Paul celebrated like he won the Super Bowl, even though he dropped a guy that was more concerned with dough nuts than dodging punches. The quick finish prompted many on social media to speculate that the fix was in and that Askren took a dive. I don’t think that was the case, I would guess that Askren’s plan was legitimately to just try to coast through the fight without taking any damage, and he didn’t care if he lost a decision to a Youtuber. When Askren actually got caught with a punch, he just didn’t want to try to continue and put in minimal effort to try to answer the referee. But, I don’t think there was some plan for Askren to take a punch and have a worked finish.

At this point, I’m sure you can tell that I think this was a total disaster and a completely train wreck. It was sad to see that Askren, who was considered one of the top contenders in MMA during his prime, reduced to a doughy shell of himself for a payday. Oscar De La Hoya is inaudible on live television, and a fictitious low blow ends a fight. Jake Paul isn’t a rising boxing, he just fought gimmick fights without legitimate competition, but if it sells then there’s money to be made from it. If this lowest common denominator of crash TV becomes what the public thinks the sport is supposed to be, what happens to legitimate boxing? Have the political games that prevents marquee bouts from getting signed tarnished boxing to the point that the general public is willing to accept this sideshow as an example of boxing? This circus should be a notice to boxing promoters, get the major fights in the ring before the perception of the sport is completely tainted. The Canelo-Triple G and Fury-Wilder trilogy bouts should be signed as soon as possible because this Triller venture was an embarrassment to fight industry.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta
E mail drwrestlingallpro@yahoo.com | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta