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How Triller is Revolutionising the World of Boxing

Unicast Entertainment Writing Analyst Basheer Alsayd on how a popular and controversial new social media site, Triller, is attracting new audiences to the boxing ring

Boxing. Pugilism. A sport as old as time. It was first invented when man looked at his fellow man and thought: “I want to bash his head in.” From the ancient Romans and Greeks to the Marquess of Queensberry Rules to Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, it’s stood the test of time. Nevertheless, the sweet science has always existed, and it had to evolve to maintain its fanbase. Therefore, with the growth of social media and the decline of traditional TV viewership, the sport must find new ways to grow its audience.

Enter Triller. The social media giant has been working hard putting on fights and attracting a newer, younger audience. Triller’s first venture into the boxing world was the exhibition bout between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr., and by all metrics, it was a success. The main event was sure to attract avid as well as casual boxing fans. The fight was discussed when Roy Jones Jr. first won the heavyweight title after beating John Ruiz in 2003, but negotiations never got anywhere. News of the fight was a treat to everyone who had watched either man in his prime or even their YouTube highlights.

This would have normally been enough to have a successful pay-per-view, however, Triller was more ambitious. As co-main, Jake Paul, YouTube star and internet celebrity, was set to fight former NBA star, Nate Robinson. Paul was coming off two knockout wins against fellow YouTube sensation Deji Olatunji and AnEsonGib (AKA Gib); the former being a high-profile bout on the undercard of the famed KSI vs. Logan Paul event. With Paul’s appeal to a new and unique fanbase that never would have shown any interest in the sport, Triller managed to access a completely new market that had been untapped by the boxing world. The event, reportedly, sold 1.6 million pay-per-view buys, the most for any boxing card that year.

The first event foretold Triller’s strategy for becoming a home for boxing by mixing celebrity with traditional boxing matches featuring world champions and ranked fighters. Moving in this direction would allow Triller to attract the attention of two demographics: people invested in boxing as a sport but also those mire interested in the celebrity scene. This was further emphasized by their production. Triller events would often feature celebrity commentators, such as Snoop Dogg, as well as musical acts between fights.

No better example of this other than the next Triller boxing event: Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren. The bout not only served as a showcase of Triller’s production quality, but also the brilliance of Paul’s management, as Askren was the perfect opponent: a combat athlete that posed no threat when stripped of his wrestling abilities. The event included musical performances by top artists such as Justin Bieber, Ice Cube, Diplo, and Doja Cat. Not only that but the undercard was stacked top-ranked pro-fighters and some former world champions (i.e. Regis Prograis & Steve Cunningham). Therefore, if you were a boxing fan, it was a must-watch event; and if you were a pop-culture fan you would have wanted to watch all the big-name performers.

Jaeson Ma, advisor to the CEO at Triller, details the process through which Triller entered the boxing world in an interview with Unicast Entertainment’s Rishit Jain. Ma describes how the Tyson v. Jones Jr. fight presented an opportunity to grow the brand and allow the company to expand and differentiate itself from its competitors.

That being said, Triller’s boxing venture has its fair share of critics. Hardcore boxing fans have been complaining of the events being made into spectacles, and there being an excessive use of theatrics. If you were to ask most hardcore fans, their biggest complaint would boil down to “they’re not serious”. This is not an absurd claim after hearing Snoop Dogg, as a commentator, describe the Tyson v. Jones Jr. bout as “two of my uncles fighting at the barbecue”. The comments angered many a fan who were enamoured with the fighters’ achievements and their service to the sport.

However, Triller has done two things to dispute these claims. The first is the signing of Jim Lampley, the legendary HBO colour commentator, as a new addition to the broadcast team. This will surely add more to Triller’s appeal as fans have been complaining about commentators since HBO announced it was leaving the fight business and Lampley has a unique ability to raise the value of any production he participates in. The second thing Triller has done is winning the bid for the Lopez v. Kambosos Jr. title fight. Teofimo Lopez is the undisputed champion at lightweight and promoted by Bob Arum, who has been a promoter since Ali v. Frazier in 1971. By obtaining the rights to this fight, Triller showed that it can compete with the “powers that be” in boxing and it is serious in its venture. 

Triller is off to a good start, and anyone who is interested in combat sports will be following closely. The road surely won’t be easy, there will be many challenges to come. Dealing with old-fashioned promoters that seem to prefer an archaic way of handling business that doesn’t seem to be adaptable to the current climate. Competition from other networks that have more experience in the boxing world. Providing an answer to DAZN’s subscription model. These are all obstacles that await Triller Boxing Club and it will be interesting to see how they are dealt with.

Watch Jaeson Ma’s full interview with Unicast Entertainment here

Basheer Alsayd



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