KSI and Misfits: Five things mainstream boxing can learn from the influencer scene

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How to build a star in this social media-driven era

Influencer boxers have a head start in this regard as their whole platform has been built on their following across social media. But in recent years especially, there has been a clear shift in how the public consumes media, with YouTube and social networks overtaking traditional outlets (TV and radio) in the eyes of younger people. Misfits Boxing know where the majority of its audience is coming from, so there is a focus on short and snappy content with call-outs via Twitter and Instagram. Plus, YouTube videos from the fighters themselves which include training footage and building up rivalries with other fighters.

There are simply not enough legitimate boxers who use social media to their benefit. Ryan Garcia is a prime example who has utilised varying platforms to make himself a mega-star.

On a smaller scale, cruiserweight prospect Viddal Riley has millions of followers and his own YouTube channel following his work as a trainer for KSI.

There is now a lot of hype around Riley despite him still needing to achieve something of note in the pro ranks. Other fighters should take note and do the same thing.

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Building rivalries between fighters through boxing cards

In traditional boxing, there is far too much reliance on the main event fight. Despite a lot of competition between different promotions, it is often found that all of their eggs are put in one basket with the bout at the top of the bill. But putting on fights on the undercard where there is legitimate spite between the opponents is a must. To follow on from the previous point, the bulk of this rivalry building can be done via social media, not just at the pre-fight press conferences. To build a more sustainable future for the sport, events need to be put on where the majority of the attending fans care about the fights throughout the card. It will make for a more enjoyable night's entertainment and will ensure they are more likely to return for another event. You don't have to go as extreme as the influencer scene, but just ensuring that the undercard isn't jammed with nothingness would do.

Put on more competitive fights (not just the main event)

This is a similar point to the last, really. Having rivalries are great, but there really must be more competitive action between the ropes as well. Matchmaking has really taken a drop off in recent years. You often find that cards are full of bright prospects against journeymen brought in to take a battering. This cannot be fully avoided as it is a tried-and-tested formula to give more experience to younger fighters. But you look at Misfits and they have even contests throughout the night. So perhaps barring just one or two fights a night, you are able to enjoy five or six well-matched and competitive bouts. The crowd on the night proves the benefits of this. At Misfits, fight fans are in the arena and seated throughout the event so they do not miss any of the action. But with traditional boxing, the venue gradually fills up the closer you get to the main event with the place only at capacity when the top attractions make their ring walks. Right now, there is far too much missable action on boxing cards, so promoters need to take a few risks with their boxers to make more engaging fights.

Ensure fighters don't fear losing their unbeaten record

Speaking of taking risks, I and most other boxing fans are pretty sick of hearing excuses why the top fights are not happening.

From Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua to Terence Crawford vs Errol Spence Jr, there are clashes up and down the weight classes that should have happened already.

There are a few reasons why not. Politics between rival promoters can get in the way, but also fighters and their teams are often scared to take fights that are too dangerous. There is an obsession with unbeaten records in boxing, but some world-level fighters who are unbeaten have a padded record having only fought opponents at a far inferior level. To achieve true greatness, you need to fight the best in your weight class in the process and even if you lose, you will gain more respect just for trying and giving fans the fights they want. With Misfits, there is obviously not as great a discrepancy in terms of boxing ability, but the best very often do fight the best. There is more of a reliance on the fans over building up this unbeatable aura around a fighter. This makes it easier to put on these stacked cards, as fighters are willing to risk falling a couple of steps with a loss in pursuit of glory. Boxing really has some huge fights in the palm of its hands, but those involved in the discussions need to give their head a wobble and make the most intriguing fights.

Introduce mystery opponents

Misfits announced ahead of KSI's most recent fight on January 14 that on the undercard, there would be a mystery opponent appearing. Understandably, this created a lot of buzz as this is something that has never been done before in combat sports. It has the vibe of WWE about it, but there is nothing wrong with that. Boxing could benefit from being more of a show, and Misfits are doing just that with their big characters and unconventional business model. On the night, in true Royal Rumble style, the mystery fighter was Luis Alcarez Pineda (KSI's former foe) and his Undertaker-esque entrance created one of the pops of the night in London.

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The reaction in the arena and subsequent mass views over social media made this stunt more than worth it and it begs the question; why has this not been done before? It would have to be done in small doses, as the novelty would wear off pretty quickly if there is a mystery opponent on every boxing card. But using this motif every couple of months is a no-brainer for fight promoters. We have seen now the level of intrigue it can create. The only problem is that moments like this can fall flat on their face if the mystery fighter is an underwhelming one. Though if promoters can ensure this is avoided, adding this to a fight card is a superb idea that is a gift for fans in attendance - and it's a sure-fire method to create a viral moment.

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