By Terence Dooley
Gareth Williams, CEO of Hatton Promotions, advised BoxingScene.com that they are exploring a link-up with fellow promoter Frank Maloney in a bid to provide the British boxing public with fifty-fifty matches between prospects as well as top domestic title fights.
Rumours that Maloney is on his way out of the sport swept through the boxing community over the weekend, with one or two people stating that Frank was set to retire and would hand his stable over to Ricky Hatton’s company. Frank, however, was quick to deny these whispers, it seems that we have not seen the last of the veteran London-based promoter.
“No, I don’t know anything about that,” said Williams when asked if Hatton Promotions were taking over Maloney’s business. “What we are trying to do for the future of boxing is to ensure that promoters work together for the good of the sport. We have worked closely with Frank in the past and have both been to Sky together to see if we can work together regularly.
“We have said to Sky that boxing will suffer if all the promoters try to build up people’s records and don’t put kids into big fights – you will never move beyond putting on shows for twelve hundred people. I think it makes perfect sense that we work together.
“We’ve worked with Matchroom, Frank Maloney and have obviously just worked with Golden Boy, we are happy to work with anybody. That is the only way to progress the sport.”
Ironically, rumours of Maloney’s retirement spread across ringside in Huddersfield on Saturday night. Williams, though, pointed out that Saturday’s British super-featherweight title showdown between Gary Sykes and Carl Johanneson, two Maloney fighters headlining a Matchroom bill, is an example of what Hatton Promotions and Maloney aim to achieve, competitive headline fights between leading fighters that can be put together without the political manoeuvring that so typifies the business of boxing.
“Look at the weekend as a perfect example,” Williams explained. “You have a Matchroom show with a main event provided by Carl Johanneson and Gary Sykes, two Maloney boxers. As a natural progression from that we look at guys like Anthony Crolla, Stephen Foster and Gary Buckland who could all put on a cracking fight against Gary Sykes so the best step is for the promoters to work together to make those fights. Fighters get to find out who is the best fighter in their division, Sky get competitive fights and it is what the viewing public wants.”
It has been done before. Indeed, Maloney teamed up with Frank Warren in the past to try to put on the best possible fights. We all like to play ‘fantasy matchmaker’ and, for example, a successful union between the Hatton and Maloney could help make a round robin in which heavyweights Richard Towers, 9-0 (7), David Price, 9-0 (7), and Tom Dallas, 13-0 (10), meet relatively early in their careers and without the inordinately long build up period that typifies, and often derails, potential British showdowns.
“Exactly, that is exactly it,” confirmed Williams when I asked if this move made fights like Price versus Towers viable. “Or you put someone like Richard Towers in with Tom Dallas. Then you have the winner fighting David Price and it builds the fighters up.
“We have spoken to Frank and Sky but as I said, this is nothing new. We worked on Gary Buckland against John Murray on a Matchroom show last year. We had Andy Morris fighting Gary Sykes on a Matchroom show. We have to look at doing new things. That is our philosophy.
“The way things are in this country right now makes it hard for boxing to survive. I’ve been in America for this past week spending hours and hours with Golden Boy Promotions to work out how we can get our kids over to America for opportunities. I don’t come at this from a fan’s perspective. I come at from the view that we have to give people opportunities and fights to keep the sport healthy, whether they take them is up to them.
“Stephen Foster is a classic example, we offered him a chance to fight for the European title – he accepted it and was successful. We gave Scott Lawton the chance at a European – he was unsuccessful but he still had that chance. Matthew Hatton had a big opportunity to fight in America against Saul Alvarez.
“Everyone in boxing was telling me that I was crackers to even contemplate that fight but Matt’s had his biggest payday, he fought live on HBO and for a world title, and he will get more opportunities.”
The close ties with Golden Boy were put into place during Ricky Hatton’s fighting career, Ricky boxed on their shows and formed a bond with Oscar De La Hoya, a union that Williams hopes will benefit UK-based boxers, giving them the chance to feature on US cards.
“We try to promote our fighters and give them opportunities,” he reiterated. “Golden Boy are in a better position than ourselves because there is more TV over there so for example this year they are putting on about 90-odd fights. They haven’t got the same pressures of limited TV dates that we have in England so from their point of view sending guys over here to appear on UK shows isn’t needed just yet but from our point of view it is a great chance to get our kids dates over there.”
Matthew Hatton has been the biggest benefactor of this collegiate approach. Saturday’s fight with Alvarez saw ‘Magic’ pick up some new fans en route to a decision defeat, with HBO insisting that the younger Hatton brother will appear on their screens again.
“HBO executives have confirmed they will put him on again so as a risk it was well worth taking,” says Williams. “I talk to all sorts of fighters, trainers and managers and a lot of them won’t take that type of risk. But fair play to Matthew, he gets some bad press on those Internet forums with people saying he’s only got to where he’s got because he’s Ricky’s brother but he took a big opportunity that a lot of people wouldn’t have taken and it has paid dividends for him.
“I’m glad to say that, as a company that was branded around his brother, the fighter who has taken things on and walked the walk is Matthew. There was honour in his defeat and he’s emerged with so much credit and so many doors have opened for him.
“The whole philosophy of what Hatton Promotions is about is to give fighters opportunities, it is then up to them if they take them. At this moment in time we have one major broadcaster backing British boxing [Writer’s note: Premier Sports and Primetime are standalone subscription channels, ESPN has been terrible in regards to the UK scene].”
He added, “God only knows the state British boxing would be in if it wasn’t for Sky. With the best will in the world there is only so many Saturday nights that Sky can put out. They’ve got four promoters and have to satisfy their needs so it has to follow that the promoters have to work together, otherwise what state will the sport be in after a few years?”
“We can’t continue in the vein where everyone wants to protect fighters and build impressive records. Sky will lose interest and the British public will lose interest so we have to work together and put kids into big fights,” he stressed when again pointing out that Hatton Promotions will work with, rather than take over, Maloney’s stable.
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