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Cassper v Naak: Does it matter if they are motivated by money?

Cassper Nyovest may have had a motive for his first exhibition fight against Slik Talk, but does anyone really know what the beef with Naak Musiq really is?
Thu, Apr 07, 2022

PHOTO: Cassper Nyovest Twitter

There are elements of beauty in the art of sanctioned violence. Dancing feet and swerving bodies which create angles that limit contact. Beauty lies in the discipline of preparation, the improvisation required in combat and the orchestration of your enemy’s downfall.

The sport still largely operates under the Marquess of Queensberry Rules, and boxing has seen its fair share of beautiful practitioners. Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather was a ringmaster well versed in the defensive aspects of the fight game and took a lot of joy from diminishing his adversaries’ quest for blood. The foolish called him boring and technical, the wise mourned this gross mischaracterisation of a genius.

Beauty is not the expectation this Saturday when Refiloe ‘Cassper Nyovest’ Phoolo takes on Anga ‘Naak Musiq’ Makubalo in Sun City this Saturday. Profit is. There is little evidence to suggest that this ‘bout’ will be a delight for aficionados except for workout videos against defenceless punching bags. And we can’t glean much from Cassper’s fight against Slik Talk who gave credence to the assertion that he came out to collect a cheque last December.

The genesis of the derision between Cassper and Naak is unclear, but we live in a “secure the bag” capitalist society so the manufacture of disdain in the Twitterverse can prove profitable. Cassper is already looking past Naak and has set his sights on an even bigger money-spinner against longtime nemesis, AKA.

Makubalo, on the other hand, has been uncharacteristically quiet in the lead up to the bout, with minimal training videos released. He is the underdog. A tactic, some suggest. The idea is to give Cassper the surprise of his life on Saturday night.

While Naak is predicted to at least throw a punch and automatically mark a bigger improvement to Slik Talk’s dismal effort last time out, the odds are heavily stacked against him. But this is boxing after all and he does have a puncher’s chance. Cassper’s defensive skills are yet to be tested and this matchup is likely to degenerate into a scrap – a brawl devoid of beauty.

How did we get here, where prowess, skill and ability are overtaken by farce and spectacle?

The popularity of boxing has been in decline the world over for years now, with Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) the combative preference. It is no exaggeration to suggest that Mayweather set us on this ugly path. Exhibition fights are the norm for retired boxers and usually occur without much fanfare. But in December 2020, Money announced an “exhibition” fight against YouTuber Logan Paul. The usual rituals of manufactured scorn, behind the scenes training and disrespect, were followed to sell the fight. The lead up to the fight had the drama of a real encounter.

Paul even spoke about how it was a dream come true to face Mayweather. A laughable statement because his “path” to this bout was due to social media popularity and not going through the ranks from the amateurs to dismantling everyone in the professional stage en route to a title shot. The fight reportedly sold more than one million pay-per-view buys.

Mayweather has a knack for money, and Cassper is a master of being profitable from culture. So, it was no surprise when he took this turn in December 2021.

He deserves his props though because he conducted the first bout without much sponsorship support, and although it was of poor quality, he did it. Which matters. He has shown it can be done and has moved on to a bigger spectacle, just like he did with his Fill Up series of one-man concerts.

South Africans and groove are inseparable and this weekend’s activities are filled to the tilt with what looks poised to be Las Vegas-style scenes of debauchery in the company of celebrity.

The undercard on fight night will comprise real boxing encounters and hopefully, this captive popular audience may derive a renewed interest in the art of fisticuffs due to the immense marketing leverage of one, Cassper Nyovest.

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