What: The boxing reality series “The Contender” debuts on EPIX on Friday, August 24, with the Hispanic audience an important factor in its success.
Why it matters: The tradition of boxing across Latin America and among Latinos in the U.S., has never been stronger.

Eric Van Wegenen

This fall may be the rebirth of boxing in the mainstream. From Canelo Alvarez (@Canelo) vs Triple G (@GGGBoxingin September to new massive deals by ESPN (@espnand DAZN (@DAZN_USAto invest in the sport, the buzz has not been this loud consistently in years. Also in the mix will be the reintroduction of the reality series that started it all in sports “The Contender,” (@TheContender ) which will begin its weekly run in a few weeks on a new home EPIX (@EpixHD), starting August 24 at 9 pm EDT. Core to the success of that show, and for that matter all of boxing, is the rabid Latino fan base, which has supported all forms of boxing even in its lowest moments. From South Americans to the Caribbean, Mexico to Central America, boxing remains a tradition to Latinos.

We were able to take in one of the shows for The Contender this past spring in Los Angeles, and we recently caught up with Executive Producer Eric Van Wagenen (@EricVanWagenen(also familiar to Latino fans as the EVP of “Lucha Underground”) to find out what will be in store for those tuning in on EPIX this fall.

Portada: The Latino community is obviously a prime market for the Contender, when putting together the show does that market factor into decisions on talent?

Eric Van Wagenen: We want to appeal to all demographics when we cast “The Contender,” but the primary focus is on boxing talent. Obviously, the Latino fans make up a large percentage of all boxing fans, but most boxing fans are drawn to fighters who put on entertaining fights, even more than any regional or ethnic loyalties.

They support live events, broadcast events, and actively engage on boxing social media. To build the Contender brand, we will need a strong Latino fanbase.
Daniel Valdivia (Credit: Epix / Dianna Garcia – Beck Media)

Portada: Sergio Mora was a past champion and is part of this show. How valuable was it to have him win in the past, and how important is he in the storytelling this time around?

EVW: Sergio Mora was the ideal champion for us in season 1 and a great example of the power of this format. He’s a former world champion and one of the few guys from season 1 that is still fighting. He helped us evaluate the talent early on, and was even a frequent sparring partner for the boxers before and during the tournament. Having been through the “TV” part of the experience before, his advice was very helpful -not only to the boxers, but to the producers as well.

Portada: We believe you have one Latino boxer in the show, from Mexico? Can you tell us about him?

EVW: We have two Latino boxers; Daniel Valdivia, born in Mexico but moved to Tulare, California as a young boy to follow his father who was a migrant worker in California’s central valley. Also, Marcos Hernandez – a young father and native of Fresno, California. These men live only 75 miles away from each other, and their careers have been circling each other for a long time.

Portada: Regardless of the winner, boxing is enjoying quite a rebirth overall. As the sport grows even further, how important is it as someone promoting the sport, that the Latino audience stay engaged and involved?

EVW: It’s very important to appeal to the “hardcore” boxing fans as we reboot this series and Latino fans are some of the most supportive of the sport. They support live events, broadcast events, and actively engage on boxing social media. To build the Contender brand, we will need a strong Latino fanbase.

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Portada: What will Latino fans of the sport enjoy most with this go-round?

EVW: In boxing, a “Mexican style” fight usually implies toe-to-toe, nose-to-nose, tough exchanges with lots of shots traded. Given the five round format of our tournament, the fights are extremely action-packed without any boring rounds.

Portada: If you were advising brands on why to get involved in boxing again, especially those interested in engaging with Latinos, what would you tell them?

EVW: We saw a lot of Latino families coming to our Contender fight nights. Fathers and Mothers came with their children. The love of the sport is constantly passing down to the next generation, and they become life-long boxing fans.

Portada: Lastly, what would fans of the series expect to see differently in this series than in the ones past?

EVW: While we still go deep into fighter’s backstories and families, we have a higher caliber of fighter than in previous seasons. Additionally, the fights are shown in their entirety, without music, sound effects, or clever editing. You will see exactly how the fights went down.

Cover Image courtesy EPIX

What: Chivas Regal activated its Chivas Fight Club for Gennady “GGG” Golovkin’s Cinco de Mayo Fight on Saturday.
Why it matters: Chivas has been able to tap into GGG’s fervent Latino fan base with this strong connection to the champion boxer.

Brands are always looking for ways to bring fervent fans of teams, sports and leagues into the fold in support of their products. Since fans tend to support the companies that help their favorite entities, the most direct way to attract them is through a straight sponsorship.

But Chivas Regal (@ChivasRegalUSlaunched an even stronger connection to the ardent supporters of middleweight boxing champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (@GGGBoxinglast year, giving fans special treatment at his win on Saturday vs. Vanes Martirosyan in Carson, Calif. The Chivas Fight Club provided those fans with access to exclusive content, interviews and more from the famed boxer and his team, including Mexican trainer Abel Sanchez (pictured above with GGG).

GGG was selected because he stands for the principles he believes in and represents the heart and soul of the fighter in all of us.

The initiative helped Chivas gain access to those superfans through special giveaways and activations at the Cinco de Mayo bout, after a successful run at GGG vs. Canelo Alvarez in September in Las Vegas.

Through the campaign, special themed cocktails were made with boxing-themed names like “The Undisputed Champion,” “The Eliminator” and “Fists of Fury,” each utilizing different liquors in the Chivas family. Fans were able to become free members online and on-site at Saturday’s fight.

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For Chivas, partnering with GGG makes great sense in connecting with his fervent Latino base. The Club’s materials note that GGG was selected “because he stands for the principles he believes in and represents the heart and soul of the fighter in all of us. GGG comes from humble beginnings much like that of the Chivas Brothers, who created Chivas Regal.”

Chivas has a strong social media component to The Chivas Fight Club, encouraging the use of the hashtag #FightForIt as members share their own stories of what they are fighting for. It’s an on-message connection that reflects GGG’s own history.

“This movement is special to Chivas as it brings to life our core values, embracing the mixture of cultures and importance of shared success, as every person has a unique battle they fight with passion, gloves on and off,” said Shefali Murdia, Brand Director for Chivas Regal, Pernod Ricard USA, in a statement. “Like the Chivas brothers, Gennady comes from humble beginnings and has allowed his dreams to push him to where he is today, all while staying true to his values and Winning the Right Way.”

See the Chivas Fight Club TV commercial here.

Cover Image Credit: Randall Slavin

What: Tecate has signed a sponsorship deal with boxer Gennady Gennadievich Golovkin.
Why it matters: The addition of GGG to Tecate’s influencers is a powerful marketing boost for the beer brand, and adds an interesting twist to the promotion of the boxer’s rematch with El Canelo Álvarez, also sponsored by Tecate.

Tecate has just announced a sponsorship deal with Gennady Gennadievich Golovkin “GGG”, the Kazakhstani professional boxer who currently holds the unified WBA (Super), WBC, IBF, and IBO middleweight titles. This will be a powerful addition to their list of brand ambassadors. Together with Sylvester Stallone and El Canelo Álvarez, Tecate hopes to reach the boxing audiences more effectively than ever, especially in preparation of the expected rematch between GGG and El Canelo in May this year.

Tecate became the box-sponsoring beer when it activated the fight between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather in 2007, and has gone on to sponsor the most important fights ever since, like Mayweather vs. Pacquiao in 2015, Canelo vs. Khan in 2016, and Canelo vs. Golovkin in 2017, just to mention a couple of examples. The beer company has been El Canelo’s official sponsor since 2016, and this year will be Tecate’s first time sponsoring boxers fighting each other. Gennady will receive a 360-marketing campaign to promote his 2018 fights.

“Boxing remains Tecate’s biggest passion point and we continue to see more opportunity to authentically build the sport with true fans,” said Gustavo Guerra, Tecate brand director, in a press release. “With Golovkin’s unique style and his global popularity, we can’t wait for him to get back in the ring.”

“Tecate is a partner whose reverence for the sport, the fighters and the fans is truly impressive,” added Tom Loeffler, GGG Promotions Managing Director. “We’re very happy to have signed the 2018 fight contract with Golovkin and GGG Promotions where Tecate will be featured prominently in the center ring, around the mat and throughout future arenas.”

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