As the title suggests, this is more of a pondering question rather than an opinion piece. Rather, like someone who announces their sexual orientation and then seeks acceptance or approval from others, I’m happy with what/who I am and to what extent I am interested in boxing. But I find it fascinating/annoying how the so called –and self-appointed- ‘Hardcore’ fans of the sport seek to put down or insult someone who is perhaps slightly less interested or less invested in the sport of boxing.
I’ve decided to class myself as a ‘Hardcore Casual’ as I find the whole thing rather amusing. So firstly, let me lay down my credentials as a boxing fan:
My earliest recollection of watching a fight was seeing Mike Tyson win the heavyweight championship from Trevor Berbick in 1986, although I can’t recall whether I had taped it through the night or just watched the replay the next morning on ITV. I recall watching most Tyson fights like this. I remember watching Frank Bruno’s fights on Sportsnight on a Wednesday night, although I’m sure I used to listened to commentary on the radio of these fights. Another early memory is of watching a preview show (and then the fight) of the 1987 Hagler vs. Leonard superbout. My interest waned somewhat between the mid 1990s until perhaps 2003/4 -although I do recall still watching fights- and I was 16+ then, so probably worrying more about getting my dick wet during those years. I seem to recall sitting eating fish and chips with my good mate who was enthusing about one of the Morales/Barrera fights that got me back into watching it more. He buys Boxing News every week and would often tell me all about what he’d read during our nightly chats at work. Since then I jumped aboard the Ricky Hatton train and subsequently Manny Pacquiao during that time when I’d watch anything whether it was Friday Fight Night on SKY or some random bout on Eurosport. Again my interest has waned since 2015 but that is worthy of another article I think.
Casuals: Love them or hate them they’re hear to stay
So now I’ve laid out my boxing history this brings me to the question in mind. With the introduction of the internet and subsequently social media this has given fans of the sport of boxing a chance to discuss the sport with each other. Now bear in mind that boxing is not as popular as football or many other sports (just look at the coverage it gets in a newspaper). Very rarely do we see boxing on the back page unless it’s a big fight involving one of the few crossover stars and most fights featuring a Brit gets a bit piece written on it about six-eight pages inside and usually on the same page as little snippets about fishing, speedway etc.
When wanting to find out daily information I began to look online (notably Boxingscene) for boxing news. It was there that I first encountered forums – a virtual room where you could post your opinion or enter a discussion with others. I rarely posted anything but from what I saw it was a case of someone posting an opinion on who would win a potential fight -possibly based on like or dislike for one of the boxers- only for them to be belittled and put down by someone who thought he knew more statistics about the boxers. In recent years I have joined Twitter. Initially this was as a tool to gather immediate information about things or people that interest me, with boxing being one of those. I follow a few selected boxers, some news sites and journalists, but mostly boxing fans. It’s these people who I notice class themselves as Hardcore fans, all vying for their position on this invisible spectrum of being a boxing fan. “I was aware of Golovkin in 2006″… “Yeah well I saw his first amateur fight on a stream so I’m a bigger fan than you”. I am shaking my head at this point.
WHO GIVES A FUCK what obscure fights you’ve watched or what meaningless statistics you know…
But to these people it does matter. It enables them to feel superior to what they class as a ‘Casual’ fan. I’d guess your typical Casual fan is a bloke, most likely a football fan, who watches Sky Sports News and who believes and gets taken in by the hype spouted by the Sky team and most notably promoter Eddie Hearn. You’ve got to remember that it is their job to get people to watch and ultimately buy Pay-Per-Views or attend a show. This leads me to another point: I’ve never actually been to a boxing show nor do I have any intention of going to one, unless a loved one or someone I knew was actually fighting. See, I am of the opinion that the best view of a boxing match is in your front room, on your HD TV with close ups and slow motion replays allowing you to see exactly what is happening, as opposed to being 200 yards away, behind some drunk bloke who keeps jumping up every time a punch is thrown. There are probably housewives in Leeds that have been to 10 times more boxing shows than me but does that mean that they are a bigger boxing fan than me? Who cares?! I certainly don’t. To me she’s a boxing fan. Whether she’s a fan of just one fighter or she watches streams of Indonesian flyweights, she’s still a fan and still entitled to an opinion. So if she wants to tweet saying she WANTS Kal Yafai to win his world title fight or, in her opinion, he WILL win the fight then so what? That’s her opinion. See, I believe that no one’s opinion is WRONG! You can have an opinion on anything without knowing anything about the subject in question.
Your opinion should be formed based on what you know about the subject and of course opinions can always change. So, if in someone’s opinion for instance they think Callum Smith beats every other super-middleweight out there then who are you to tell them that they are wrong? It’s just their opinion. But back to the original question – I’m quite happy just being a boxing fan. I DON’T go to shows. I DON’T watch random Asian strawweights via a stream. I DON’T remember or care who won what fight between Ali/Frazier/Foreman. And I don’t know what Takashi Miura’s inside leg measurement is nor do I know the combined win/loss record of Diego Chaves first 10 amateur opponents for fuck sake! In the same way I don’t Lord it over people because I’ve been watching boxing for over 30 years and I don’t expect some little twenty-something troll to me or call me a Casual because he doesn’t agree with my opinion, just because he’s been wanking over a Bob Mee book full of statistics.
Remember, no one starts off as an expert in anything. So all these Hardcores would’ve one day been knowledge-less Casuals. The funny thing is is that your typical Casual fan who tweets Eddie Hearn some gushing praise, probably couldn’t care less about being branded a Casual. The ‘C’ word has become the standard insult by these ‘superfans’ all vying for acceptance by each other and the need to feel like one of the Hardcore mob. Remember, there’s always someone (probably many people) out there that know more than you.
Thanks for reading and if you got to the end then you probably are a HARDCORE fan!
Follow Rocco @rocco_619
Both hardcores and casuals alike will enjoy this piece by Chris O’Neill on Russian destroyer Artur Beterviev.
Photo Credit: The Classifieds Plus