by Frank Warren
Channel Five’s declaration that it has ‘no plans to show boxing at the moment’ was damning news to cauliflower ears this week.
Since July 2011, C5 had provided live coverage of shows promoted by hard grafting Londoner Mick Hennessy whose stable includes Tyson Fury, James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jnr. The ratings had been high, particularly for Fury who, at near prime time on a Saturday evening, attracted close to three million viewers for his thrilling victory over Dereck Chisora.
C5’s withdrawal means there is now no ‘free to air’ coverage of boxing in the UK and given the huge interest that remains, the sport deserves far better. Please note, that the BBC Sports Personality for the Twentieth Century was boxer Muhammad Ali, and the two highest earning athletes in 2012 according to Forbes magazine were boxers Floyd Mayweather Jnr ($85m) and Manny Pacquiao ($62m). They generate enormous revenue through pay-per-view sales because clearly people are interested in watching them perform.
History shows that major fights broadcast live at primetime on the terrestrial channels can attract eight figure audiences. However, production costs of broadcasting major events can be expensive and unfortunately TV executives lack the foresight to invest long term and allow gifted prospects to blossom into superstars. Instead, it’s cheaper to bung an old movie on!
Elite fighters like David Haye and Amir Khan are already household names and following the success of Team GB at the last two Olympics, there is more outstanding young British talent emerging now than there’s been for decades.
But to flourish the sport needs as many outlets as possible. While subscription channels like BoxNation, Sky Sports and ESPN continue to provide fabulous exposure, a terrestrial presence is essential to showcase the biggest stars and attract the casual fan.
Boxing can never have too many stars so the news that David Haye is to resume his ring career is to be welcomed.
The former undisputed world cruiser and WBA heavyweight champion is primed to return in the summer against a ranked but as yet unnamed opponent. Venue and broadcaster are still to be confirmed.
‘The Hayemaker’, still only 33, shall be returning on a British licence – provided he passes the mandatory medicals – after apologizing in person to the Board of Controls stewards for his well chronicled shenanigans with Dereck Chisora at a Munich press conference 13 months ago. David proved the consummate professional – both between the ropes and beyond – when he stopped ‘Del Boy’ in round five of their highly publicised grudge settler before 30,000 fans at Upton Park last summer.
He further enhanced his stock – and that of our sport – with his chivalrous performance in the jungle during the latest series of ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here...’
Despite performing just once since his lame unification spat with Wladimir Klitschko in July 2011, Haye remains mandatory challenger to Russia’s WBA champion Alex Povetkin and is still rated in the top five with the other sanctioning bodies over which the Brothers Klitschko preside.
If Haye is triumphant upon his return this summer, expect him to feature in world title action again very swiftly.
It seems that new US wonderboy Adrien Broner is taking his role as heir apparent to Floyd Mayweather a bit too literally.
Already a two weight world champion at the age of 23, Broner was arrested in the early hours of Tuesday morning and charged with battery after biting the arm of a security guard after a brawl at a Miami Beach nightspot. He was later released on a $1500 bail bond.
Ironically known as ‘The Problem’, Broner sports impeccable 26-0 ring stats but has several stains on his rap sheet. A year on remand, accused of robbery and assault, scuppered his plans of shining at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and, in 2010, he was nicked for purse snatching.
His mentor, ‘Money’ Mayweather recently served two months in a Las Vegas jail for a domestic violence misdemeanour. Broner, penned to jump two weights to challenge WBA welter king Paulie Malignaggi in June, is heading in the same direction unless he sharpens up his act.
It disturbed me to learn that former England amateur ace Iain Weaver has secured a professional boxer’s licence in Spain.
The 2010 Commonwealth Games champion and European silver medallist from Ferndown in Dorset was denied a licence in the UK after scans revealed a cyst on his brain.
I’ve had my quota of ‘run-ins’ with the Boxing Board over the years but always concede that their medical safeguards are second to none. Sadly, not every nation adheres to the same standard.
It’s hard not to empathise with young Weaver, a talented 23 year old anxious to chase his dream. He’s an adult who’s aware of the risks but boxing is the most dangerous sport. We’ve not had a fatality on these shores since 1995 and all involved are desperate to keep it that way.
BoxNation welcomes back George Groves to the channel with his fight in Germany against Baker Barakat to be screened live tonight. Arthur Abraham’s WBO World Super-Middleweight title defence against Robert Stieglitz is the main event.
Fast rising super-middleweight talent Frank Buglioni has been scouted to play a boxer in a forthcoming film being shot in London.
He’s got the Hollywood star looks and he’s producing the results in the ring with an unbeaten seven fight record.
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