Snoop Dogg was a prominent player during the Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. exhibition boxing match. He took social media by storm with his whimsical commentary when he served as a musical performer and broadcast analyst.
Turns out his participation was a preemptive punch for much bigger plans ahead.
TikTok rival Triller launched its live events business with Tyson’s start-up Legends Only League, and the baton is now being passed to the entertainer born as Calvin Broadus Jr., who is pairing pugilism with the social platform as a celebrity investor by launching a boxing league billed as Fight Club.
The show’s DNA is designed to mirror last weekend’s structure and showcase from Staples Center.
Fight Club won’t be focusing on old-man grudge matches, but more on up-and-coming boxers and quasi-concerts with premium production values. Fight Club is slated for five to eight pay-per-view events a year and also will feature celebrities who want to try their hand at boxing. Triller also plans on acquiring a pair of platforms in the coming weeks to further grow its distribution and audience reach.
Triller will also tap into traditional boxing matchmakers, promoters and executives with years-long skin in the sport to navigate them as needed, and bring them palatable matchups with fighters with name recognition. The first show is scheduled for February, with Texas and Nevada among locations under consideration.
“We are changing the entire game,” Snoop Dogg said in a statement. “Boxing will never be the same and the audiences expect a new standard now. Fight Club is that standard.”
The boxing promotion game has not been easy for those in hip-hop. Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports’ pro boxing vertical shuttered earlier this year without ever making a serious mark, and 50 Cent’s SMS Promotions went into bankruptcy in 2015.
Now it’s Snoop Dogg’s turn. He said his involvement in Tyson-Jones ranked in the top five moments of his career.
Snoop Dogg’s personality was projected through the broadcast, and he plans on doing the same for Fight Club programming as a host and announcer.
The artist will also work on getting the featured musical acts. French Montana, Wiz Khalifa, YG, Saint Jhn, Ne-Yo and Swae Lee were all featured in between bouts Saturday.
During Tyson- Jones, former NBA player Nate Robinson was knocked out by YouTube star Jake Paul, leading Snoop to quip, “You can’t play boxing, and you can’t play with this pimpin’.”
The 49-year-old entertainer will work with Ryan Kavanaugh, a film financier and producer of more than 200 movies. The Hollywood executive’s investment company Proxima Media is the majority owner of the Los Angeles-based Triller, and Kavanaugh is positioning much of the app’s future behind its celebrity backers.
“We’re going to bring back the days of when the entire family watched boxing,” Kavanaugh told The Times. “There will be different tastes for everyone.”
Kavanaugh is expecting Tyson-Jones to exceed 1.59 million buys, which would rank the PPV in the top 10 boxing events of all time. Triller reportedly paid $50 million for the rights to the fight.
“Despite everyone wanting for it not to work, we upset them by changing things up and making it work and dominated the conversation on Saturday,” Kavanaugh said.
Much like you can’t “play” boxing, one can’t “play” as a promoter either — just ask Top Rank boss and boxing lifer Bob Arum, who’s still going strong as he nears 90.
The Hall of Fame promoter has guided such superstars as Muhammad Ali and Oscar De La Hoya, and even popular sideshows like Eric “Butterbean” Esch. Although Arum has an exclusive TV deal with ESPN, he doesn’t consider these new boxing verticals as a threat to his bottom line.
“They are not competition,” said Arum. “I’m welcoming it. No harm, no foul. If people want to pay for these non-athletic contests, nobody is putting a gun to their head and forcing them to buy it. By all means give it to them. I can’t fault these people for putting it on. There is no reason to be antagonistic — but buyer beware. Fans come to us for the real fights.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.