Media Review: Picking over the bones of DAZN’s early 2022 schedule

Estrada Gonzalez III, attractive DAZN 2022 schedule selection, George Jenny Books

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DAZN was the first major broadcaster to announce their schedule for the first quarter of 2022, and they set the standard fairly high with some surprising matches as well as a bout that could be the best of the whole year.

Schedule charts appear in February and March, both of which are set to be the streaming service’s busiest months. The first is a heavyweight showdown between Jesse Vargas and Liam Smith, who have both been around each other for a while now.

They both have had worldwide success in the past and both adopt a fan-friendly fighting style, so this clash is likely to be a lot of fun.

A week later, John Ryder earned his well-deserved title in an established international name when he faced Daniel Jacobs at Alexandra Palace in London. Having a home advantage is a big win for Ryder, and Ally Pally is a great spot for boxing, although it’s obviously best known for hosting darts.

February is set to conclude with what, on paper, is somewhat underwhelming for Lawrence O’Colli. The Londoner, who now operates globally and has designs to clear the cruiserweight division, will face Poland’s Michal Sislak.

From a purely competitive perspective, the fight isn’t too bad; Cislak beat Yuri Kalinga and Olanruwago Dorodola in injury time, and went the distance with Ilunga Macapo again in 2020. However, this loss to Makapo is the only time he’s fought outside Poland, and even for the most die-hard boxing fan, Cislak is the Not much of a name.

Okolie himself is very marketable and looks to have the tools to go far in the sport; He now needs the appropriate challenges to prove it. According to those dealing with his career, he’s tough to contend with, despite his lofty position in the 200-pound class. If he comes through Cieslak unscathed, let’s hope there are big battles awaiting “The Sauce” later in 2022.

March kicks off with what is easily the best confirmed fight of the year so far; The triple match between Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman Gonzalez. Now, superweights, the pair first met as lightweights in 2012, with Gonzalez winning the biggest fight of all time.

They resumed hostilities last year, with Estrada putting “Chocolatito” on the cards to exact revenge on another modern day classic. Not only does this third encounter guarantee a stunning feat as well, it matches once again two of the sport’s most accomplished fighters.

The remainder of March completes a strong month for DAZN. Lee Wood and Michael Conlan will meet in Nottingham, while Michael McKinson will travel to the United States to face Virgil Ortiz Jr. The end of the month is the rematch between Kiko Martinez and Josh Warrington.

They are all interesting competitions in their own right and will have important implications for their respective divisions. DAZN may have raised its price last year but is entering 2022 with value for money.

In addition, there is a chance that Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Oleksandr Usyk – scheduled for April – could land DAZN in the UK and that the upcoming Canelo Alvarez fight, likely in May, could do the same. If that happens, the broadcaster will have a schedule that its competitors will find it extremely difficult to get past.

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Last year, we seemed to be able to hash out the actions of YouTuber Jake Paul, who has fought three bouts against ex-UFC fighters, and won them all. Although these events drew a lot of attention (and ridicule), we were able to classify it as a sideshow.

Although Paul is clearly passionate about the sport, he has never fought a real boxer, and in order to do so, we need not concern ourselves too much with his development. When I say ‘we’, I don’t seem to include ESPN Ringside or Sports Illustrated.

ESPN picked Paul’s second win over Tyron Woodley by knockout of the year. It was a brutal one punch victory, but these things need to be put into context. Woodley was on his second professional boxing match (the first was also against Paul) and left himself wide open for what was his right hand telegraph.

The fight itself had no consequence outside the echo chamber of Paul’s events. When you compare this to the likes of Tyson Fury’s dramatic knockout Deontay Wilder earlier in the year, it’s impossible to see how Paul could have been chosen instead.

Sports Illustrated Paul was called “Best Boxer of the Year”. Chris Mannix wrote the accompanying article to explain why, and it didn’t offer anything of value. In fact, his main argument seems to be that Paul deserves the award because he refuses to fight actual boxers.

In the grand scheme of things, these awards don’t mean all that much, but they reek of these catered posts and outlets that they feel will generate the most traffic to their sites. There have been plenty of other boxers deserving of recognition from these major outlets.

Speaking of which, Forbes interviewed Usyk at the end of 2021, and while the conversation with writer Josh Katzowitz didn’t reveal much we didn’t already know about the Ukrainian, it did highlight Usyk’s bulletproof mindset.

He was asked how life has changed since his victory over Joshua last year, and how he views his standing in the sport. Based on his answers, Usyk is totally uninterested in anything that is not directly related to his goal of establishing himself as the best in the world.

Compare that to Andy Ruiz having stunned Joshua, and it’s clear that AJ won’t face a distracted Usyk in the final rematch.

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