Heavyweight Robert Helenius defeated Adam Kownacki at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn almost 15 months ago and that was the last professional boxing show in New York prior to the pandemic becoming a reality. Promoters tried to survive as they continued to keep fighters busy in closed door venues.
It was Top Rank televised on ESPN, PBC with platforms of Showtime and FOX Sports, Matchroom and Golden Boy on the DAZN streaming network.
The reality is this. Boxing would never shut down because this has been a sport that deals with adversity and always finds a way to bounce back. During a pandemic it was no different, though, Tuesday evening, the reality was boxing again at the Madison Square Garden Hulu Theatre with a different feel to it.
Perhaps “Triller Fight Club” is different from the other major promoters that have hosted championship fights at the Theatre and in the big room known as “The Mecca.” Much can be said about the promotion geared more to entertainment with less focus on the sport.
But Triller had a sellout for their inaugural debut in New York and there were fights prior to the rap music industry taking over and appeasing their fan base. This Triller theme of entertainment, the newest kid on the block, apparently has become a new trend and they say demographics call for this.
So get used to “Triller-Verz’” a monthly series at the Hulu Theatre. This is the trend Triller co-owner Ryan Kavanaugh envisioned with boxing and entertainment, except this old school guy here could do without the rap battle of two popular artists that entertained after the fights
With a free stream on the Triller network, a vehicle for fans to buy in at $2.99 a month, it was difficult adjusting to a style of different and sometimes vulgar language coming from the broadcast. Ray Flores, a professional blow-by-blow commentator and Jamel Herring the WBO Super Featherweight champion were the announcers.
“We’re really a big network,” Kavanaugh said when the series was announced in March. “It’s about continuing to build our customers as well as to continue to deliver what they want. Pay-Per-View is one way to make money but that is for big, big events. In the meantime, we need to build up our fighters and image. The idea is to have a series leading up to our big PPV events.”
The fighters have recently included unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez, who is contracted with Top Rank. Triller won a purse bid to promote his first title defense that was cancelled in June when Lopez tested positive for COVID-19.
Last year, regardless of their unorthodox format of promoting fights, Triller Fight Club surpassed expectations. The promotion generated over 1.1 million pay-per-view buys when Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. came out of retirement and fought to a draw in an exhibition bout that included an undercard of established fighters.
Put this in another perspective. With another outlet to shine, more boxing opportunities work for the betterment of the fighters and they earn a lucrative night of work.
It worked Tuesday night for Chris Algieri in his comeback fight. The former junior welterweight champion from Long Island, easily defeated veteran southpaw Mikkel LesPierre on the scorecards.
And Triller showcased heavyweight Michael Hunter who knocked out Michael Hunter in the fourth round of a scheduled ten-rounder. Yes, Hunter (20-1-1, 14 KO’s) is in the mix of the heavyweight title picture and his right got him the finish.
Overall, a Triller success and there is more to come next month at the Hulu. Important, also to note that boxing has returned to New York for fight starved fight fans and the promoters.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso