Triller Fight Club head Ryan Kavanaugh is arguably the biggest disruptor in the boxing game today, and was a guest on the “At the Fights” SiriusXM show on Friday, giving hosts Randy Gordon and Gerry Cooney insights into the Triller boxing business.
Kavanaugh discussed how he thought the April 17 Jake Paul vs Ben Askren pay-per-view was interpreted by the masses, how the next event (Teofimo Lopez vs George Kambosos Jr on June 5), and his entry into the business of pugilism.
Kavanaugh also dropped some hints on how he thinks, which could be useful for us on the outside, who saw the “anything could happen, and will” vibe in the Atlanta show.
The executive told the hosts that he finds it necessary and wise to be “nimble” when looking to make impactful change in a space, “and to be willing to change and shift.”
“Uncharted territory” is what you are bound to find when coming into a peculiar and insular and complex place like boxing, he said.
“And it’s not gonna be what you expected,” Kavanaugh said, admitting that boxing isn’t what he thought it would be. “It looked nothing like I thought it was gonna look, I knew it was gonna be different, but I’m very pleased with where it is.”
As far as being different, here’s one area in which he’s seeing his fare is being consumed not quite as expected. It looks like, he said, that like 70-80% of the PPV buys came from digital options, and usually the ratio is the other way, the larger majority of the buys come from the traditional cable/satellite funnel.
Most outfits aren’t inclined to give out PPV buy numbers, preferring to keep such stats in-house, and that goes for Triller, too. But informally, after the completion of the Atlanta offering, it looked like the Paul-Askren event might do a bigger number than the Tyson-Jones Triller event from last November. That possibility has been dimmed, it seems like.
The buy tally will be over a million, we gather, and that’s no small feat; —that would beat what the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury rematch did in Feb. 2020. But Paul-Askren won’t skip over 1.5 million buys, which seemed possible 24-48 hours after the event.
Cooney told Kavanaugh he enjoyed the PPV, while noting that purists were not as enthused, many of them. The ex-contender made pretty clear that he’s hooked and will be tuning in June 5 to see what rabbit might be pulled out of the hat for that show.
Kavanaugh came off as pretty low key for a “promoter”; several times he stated that he knows Triller Fight Club won’t be for everyone. But there’s a reason why he sees that he and Triller can fill a void.
“Because boxing’s lost its luster,” he said, and the sport “is shrinking every year.” He noted the ubiquity of the sport and its kingpins, and his desire to make it appealing for a broader audience, and said that’s why he’s pretty confident that his foray will continue to ascend in notoriety and popularity.
“We’re learning from each one,” he continued, voicing his sympathies and noticeable lack of contempt for purists. “That one was not made for the boxing purist. Jake Paul’s 24 years old, he’s a YouTube star. So you gotta give them what they want — they want young, fun, marijuana is legal, music. We gave them that, because this was a young event.
“The next event we’ve got a real title fight, if you’re a boxing purist you’re gonna love it. Because we’ll still have a little bit of the fun in there, but it’s not gonna be this Lollapalooza-slash-Coachella thing, it’s gonna be a pure boxing event with a lot of fun in it. I guarantee you boxing purists will watch that one and say, ‘That was good, it had great fights, they were what I wanted, and I didn’t have to watch the music. But it just depends on the audience.”
Gordon sounded jazzed as he tried to get info out of Kavanaugh as to what the Miami event will look like. Kavanaugh said they’ll have six undercard fights to support Lopez-Kamboos, and reiterated that this one “will be much more focused on the boxing,” saying, “We will respect that this is a real title fight.”
Kavanaugh also said he isn’t a big fan of longer-term contracts between promoters and athletes. “To me, it’s a little archaic,” he said.
The trio also touched on the possible Floyd Mayweather vs Logan Paul exhibition, and Kavanaugh said if Mayweather and Showtime decided to go on June 5 in a competing pay-per-view, there are enough audience segments to satisfy everyone. He sounded confident that real-deal boxing fans would not choose the Mayweather-Paul event over Teofimo Lopez, fighting for the first time since beating Vasiliy Lomachenko last year.