Originally announced in early 2022, studio Steel City Interactive’s eSports Boxing Club (ESCB) planned to finally deliver a triple-A, realistic boxing simulation game to the long-starved fans of the sport. Planned for an initial launch on PC before moving to PlayStation and Xbox consoles, the game has steadily released development updates over the years, showcasing gameplay videos and professional boxers joining the roster.
If you’re looking for ESCB to release, though, you’ll instead have to tweak your search. In late September 2022, ESBC transformed into “Undisputed.” The name change came to reflect the project itself, with creative director Ash Habib rationalizing the change following many questions about the game derived from its “eSports” name. The game will have many single-player elements, so ESBC no longer represents the experience.
Since the name change, the Undisputed team has seemingly been ramping up the hype train for its repeatedly delayed launch into Steam’s Early Access program. It’s possible that a small version of the game will hit PCs in the coming months, delivering the embers of the first triple-A, fully-fledged, and realistic boxing game since 2011’s Fight Night Champion.
Awaiting the launch of Undisputed
For a new development team, Steel City Interactive is certainly shooting for the moon, embarking on a huge undertaking in an attempt to deliver the biggest boxing game of a generation. Teaming up with company Ten24 – who worked on Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II and Death Stranding – the team decided to go all-in on true, next-gen visuals powered by motion capture and scanning professional boxers.
So far, the roster is impressive, to say the least. The Undisputed roster list currently includes Muhammad Ali, Wladimir Klitschko, Cecilia Braekhus, Vasyl Lomachenko, Frank Bruno, Carl Froch, Sugar Ray Leonard, Vergil Ortiz Jr., Joe Frazier, Saul Alvarez, Dmitry Bivol, Tyson Fury, Jorge Linares, Oleksandr Usyk, Terence Crawford, Katie Taylor, and Jack Dempsey.
Perhaps most enticing for less involved boxing fans, though, will be the incredibly detailed Create Boxer mechanic, which allows you to make an absurdly detailed boxer of your own for gameplay. Other modes will include eSports Tournaments, Hardcore Mode, and The Club – which is set to include deep RPG mechanics. Adding authenticity to these modes, Steel City Interactive has revealed a whole host of partnerships, including with gear producers, governing bodies, and even professional ring card holders.
Even with regular updates, previews, and news alerts for the upcoming game, Undisputed has set, missed, and decided to keep hidden an eventual release date. In February 2021, the team said that they were “committed to launching into Early Access on Steam in the coming months with a launch window in March. Eventually, delays were announced, as was the scrubbing of a hard release date, but outlets reported a plan for late 2022.
On September 28, the @PlayUndisputed account revealed that “Joyce, Canelo, Carroll, Bridges, Taylor, Usyk, Benn, Edwards, Garcia, Crawford, and Robinson” will be in Undisputed when it launches into Early Access on Day 1. Since then, each post has added another name to the Day 1 roster, bundling in Deontay Wilder, Sunny Edwards, Arturo Gatti, Micky Ward, Shawn Porter, David Adeleye, Sophie Alisch, and Jessica McCaskill.
— Undisputed (@PlayUndisputed) October 12, 2022
Still, the majority of the comments below these posts concerning a possible release date or window go unanswered. The Steam page also only reads “Coming Soon,” so it’s difficult to gauge if Undisputed will launch into Early Access before the end of 2022. That said, the clear ramping up of anticipation for the Day 1 release, would hint that Steel City Interactive is getting ready for launch.
The slim pickings for boxing games in the meantime
As luck would have it, Fight Night Champion is still available. While very clearly quite dated and comparatively narrow in scope compared to most modern sports games, it remains the best example of boxing sim gaming. That said, its cost is high from Microsoft, considering that it was released two console generations ago and is merely a backward compatibility release rather than a remaster for the Xbox.
Even away from home consoles, the selection is a bit thin, but that doesn’t mean that high-quality games aren't available. Among the online casinos in Ontario, the site graded as being “best for online slots” has well over 1,000 games to choose from. Two of these are boxing-themed, with Knockout Wins being the most popular and Knockout Diamonds having a less closely associated leaning on the sport. Still, the fact that these slots continue to draw in players further demonstrates the desire for more boxing games.
For the most part, boxing has been utilised in less mainstream forms of gaming. Creed: Rise to Glory is a virtual reality game that gives you the point of view of the boxer for each fight. On the Nintendo Switch, the Fitness Boxing games always catch on as, since the Wii, motion-control fitness games have been a niche of Nintendo.
While soccer, hockey, and baseball have in-depth, very well-crafted management sims for their sports, boxing can count itself alongside the likes of football without an officially licensed simulation game. That said, while it won't be licensed by a promotion or governing body, there's a lot of optimism for World Championship Boxing Manager II, which is still in the works.
It seems that the best of modern boxing gaming comes in the form of more arcade-like games. For some quick fun, a boxer creation matrix, and a fairly good career mode, Boxing Champs is a sound choice for those wanting to climb to the belts. A more expensive option with a lot more flair is Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions, which doesn’t quite land as well as the price would suggest.
Undisputed may be nearing its long-awaited Early Access release, but in the meantime, there are ways for gamers to delve into the world of boxing.