More than anything, it’s the sound. The sound of one man’s open palm coming into direct, blistering contact with the cheek of another man.
Yeah. The sound.
Now before anyone jumps up and decries the brutality of the action of SlapFIGHT, the professional slap fighting league, let’s just remember boxing and MMA, OK? Honestly, compared to those two sports, professional slap fighting is downright serene.
And now, in four states (Oregon, Wyoming, Colorado, Connecticut) and Ontario, DraftKings Sportsbook bettors can wager on the action. White Simba taking on Wolverine? Have at it. Monkey Wrench vs. Bayou Bastard? Bastard was +100 a few weeks back at SlapFIGHT Championship 21. Biscuit vs. Slim Reaper? You betcha.
“This was the second event people were able to bet on,” said Mike Salvaris, one of the co-founders of Pro League Network, talking about the event from Dec. 3. “The first one was in September, but we only had one state. Now we’re up to four plus Ontario, and we’re in discussions with other states — and other sportsbooks — and hope to expand in Q1 of next year.”
SlapFIGHT is the brainchild of JT Tilley, and he runs the organization. Salvaris and his fellow co-founder of Pro League Network, Bill Yucantonis, handle everything on the betting side.
“What we say is leave everything related to wagering to us, and we’ll handle that, from building relationships with sportsbooks to dealing with the states to everything,” said Yucatonis. “And you concentrate on making a compelling sporting product and growing the fan base through competition.”
Other niche sports to follow
SlapFIGHT is the first niche sport Yucatonis and Salvaris have brought to the sportsbook scene; the Pro Golf Mini Tour, Strongman Championship, CarJitsu Championship, and Major League Paintball (NXL) are all in the pipeline. (By the way, CarJitsu is exactly what it sounds like: jiu-jitsu competition, but within the confines of a car.)
And there are more than 100 other sports the duo are looking at as potential partners.
“Our goal is to establish enough sports in the right day parts to fill the voids in the betting calendar,” Yucatonis said. “Those Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday nights, we’re focused on creating enough content to fill those spots.”
If the plan succeeds, some of the action will be filmed on location and some will be filmed in a Pro League Network studio.
“Where we see ourselves evolving next is our studio where we will produce some of these sports ourselves,” Yucatonis said. “And the studio side, combined with events that are already existing, like the slap fighting, or NXL Paintball, will create great opportunities to add supplemental events to meet some of those off-peak hours or days for the books. Maybe a few hours a day to provide that stream of regulated content.”
To be clear: This is all regulated. Pro League Network is working with U.S. Integrity on matters of — one guess — integrity, and they utilize data provided by Sports Info Solutions for the statistical feed. And, of course, all this has to pass muster with state regulators.
So far, so good.
“There’s been no inquiries, no issues of any kind at any of the events,” Yucatonis said. “We are very buttoned-up on third-party oversight.”
As for the future?
“If it’s professional and has some semblance of integrity already, we’ll look at it,” said Yucatonis. “We have a list in the hundreds. We’d love to roll out one new sport every month or so to be part of our portfolio. Our goal is trying to get these three or four hours of daily content for the sportsbooks.”
Photo: Pro League Network