Social media packs a punch for boxers

Thu, 07 Feb 2019 15:12:00 GMT

Boxers are using social media to "hustle business" and boost their earning potential in the ring, according to a new academic study.

Fighters who receive purses of more than $1million have at least 150,000 Twitter followers and regularly use the social network to enhance their “star power”.

Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University and the US analysed data relating to 25 professional boxers, including Floyd Mayweather Jr, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Julio Chavez Jr, and British fighters James DeGale and Dereck Chisora, over a three-year period.

The findings are included in The Power of Self-Promotion: Twitter Followers and Guaranteed Purses in Professional Boxing, published by the Journal of Economic Insight.

Guaranteed purses, ranging from $15,000 to $32million, were matched with the number of Twitter followers a fighter had amassed at the time.

The study compared celebrity status and online popularity with success in the ring and overall earning potential.

Professor John Harris, Associate Dean Research at GCU’s Glasgow School for Business and Society, said: "The research demonstrates that professional boxers enjoy a boost to their guaranteed purse based upon the number of Twitter followers they garner.

"The sport of boxing has changed in recent years, with social media playing a role both in its international popularity and in shaping how fights are arranged and promoted.

"Boxers essentially work as independent contractors who must “hustle business” to flourish. Charisma, likeability and professionalism mean more than success in the ring.

“It is clear Twitter will continue to assume an ever more important role for boxers and elite athletes across a variety of sports.”

The study references how Floyd Mayweather Jr and Conor McGregor used Twitter over an 18-month period to stoke up interest in their boxing/MMA crossover fight in August 2017.

Professor Harris worked with Professor David Chaplin, of Northwest Nazarene University, in Idaho, and Professor Ken Brown, of Missouri State University, on the paper.