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An A-Z of boxing in 2023​​, Part 3: Naoya Inoue, pay-per-view prevalence, more!

Part three of Lewis Watson’s series about what we can expect, hope to see, and the stories that could define boxing in 2023.

BOX-JPN Photo by YUICHI YAMAZAKI/AFP via Getty Images
Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has been a contributor at Bad Left Hook since 2018.

This is part three of a four-part series. For the first two installments, click here for part one, and here for part two!


KSI. Salt Papi. Swarmz. FaZe Temperrr.

I am getting pretty used to receiving DAZN emails with the names of these characters included.

But the cold hard fact that the MF x DAZN series of YouTuber fights is gathering pace is hard to ignore. With an endless pool of combatants to choose from with zero ability needed, we are surely going to see these Misfits cards become more and more common. Essentially, it’s a freak show. But freak shows are popular.

The argument that it brings wider eyes to the sport of boxing as a whole is a little bit of a muddied point — I guess time will tell how these events will, if at all, affect the pro game going forward.

(N) is for NAOYA INOUE AT 122 LBS

Now that the Japanese “Monster” has cleaned up the 118 lb division, it’s onto bigger fish at junior featherweight.

Murodjon Akhmadaliev and Stephen Fulton Jr are the obvious targets for the pound-for-pound star if he is to become a four-division world champion.

How do you beat Naoya Inoue is a question the entire boxing world continues to ponder, and with the 24-0 superstar still only 29, we will have a few more years to try and find an answer.

(O) is for OIL MONEY

More and more sports are having their heads turned east as the lure of money tramples on any morality.

Boxing has never been, or never will be, known for upholding a moral stance on societal issues and this isn’t expected to change in 2023.

The FIFA World Cup heading to Qatar this past winter has given the green light for anyone to fill their boots in these Gulf states, following on from the number of high-profile bouts we have already seen staged in Saudi Arabia.

“Sports-washing” will once again prove a popular term this year as the Human Rights records of these countries are ignored.

(P) is for PAY-PER-VIEWS

Didn’t pay-per-view die a couple of years ago?

Well, Eddie Hearn and DAZN were quick to back-peddle on that opinion as their platform introduced a PPV service to their streaming app.

And it won’t stop there. You have to pay £19.95 in the United Kingdom to watch Chris Eubank Jr vs Liam Smith this Saturday night on Sky Sports, a domestic clash that would never have been considered for additional payment a few years back.

Sure: if you don’t want to pay for it, don’t buy it, but that attitude will continue to see boxing regress as a sport as fans are priced out.


Reviewing incompetent judging needs to be addressed in boxing.

If referees and judges aren’t allowed to speak with the media and face up to scrutiny after fights, then there needs to be a system implemented within boxing commissions to understand these decisions.


I’ve lost count of the number of boxers that I have spoken to who claim to have been thrown on the scrapheap after retiring.

More support needs to be available to ex-pros who will inevitably suffer, physically and mentally, after retiring from such a demanding sport.

Ringside Charitable Trust hopes to change the way we care for our boxing family. The vision for the home is to include medical help and facilities for ex boxers to be cared for both short and long term.


I’ve made no secret of my Sebastian Fundora fandom.

The “Towering Inferno” is the politest fighter on the planet and is on the verge of being one of the most exciting.

He’s still unbeaten as he continues his assault on the junior-middleweight division and is still doubling down on his insistence to fight inside the pocket despite dwarfing most of his opponents by half a foot.

He’s from humble beginnings, surrounded by a fighting family and it’s impossible not to root for him as he aims for the very top.

Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the BWAA. Follow or contact him on Twitter @lewroyscribbles

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