By Ben Jacobs
If you have attended a Mickey Helliet promoted show in person, you are likely to have come away satisfied with the entertainment on display. Now the option will be there for the wider public to see what many hardcore boxing fans have already experienced.
Helliet this week announced a deal with broadcaster Eurosport which will show live action from his “Hellraiser Boxing” cards beginning with the February 21 show at the Camden Centre in London.
“I never really set out to be a promoter, I wanted to be a manager but then I started promoting so I could manage a bit better,” Mickey told BoxingScene.
“Invariably other promoters were not looking after my fighters in the way that I wanted them to. For the out and out promoters, the idea of it is to make as much money for every show, that’s it. The shows that I promote, quite often we break even or we lose money but the fighters get the right fights to develop them at the right pace.
“To get a TV deal where the guys are getting the exposure that they’re going to get on Eurosport is brilliant. I think it’s going to open up a lot of doors for a lot of the fighters.
“I never pretend that every fight on every show is a 50/50, because it’s not. We have to build the fighters up. The guys that I’m managing I try to pick the right fights for them, especially early on, that can often mean fighting journeymen. But you always make sure that there are a few fights where both guys are going in to win and that’s what we’re going to do with Eurosport. There’s been a lack of that before the last couple of years, there were too many one sided fights where you knew exactly what was going to happen.”
Boxing is currently well represented on British television. Sky Sports screen Matchroom Sport’s fights in addition to some big international bouts. BoxNation screens domestic fights as well as a plethora of international action including the likes of Floyd Mayweather. There is also terrestrial station Channel 5 which shows Mick Hennessey’s stars such as James DeGale and Tyson Fury, and now Helliet’s fighters will have the chance to show their talents to a Europe wide audience. Was it therefore difficult to get the broadcasters on board?
“They first spoke to me a while back, for different reasons I didn’t think it was right to do it,” he explained.
“Then just recently they said we’ve got a date, you’ve got a show on that date, could we do it on Eurosport? So I thought definitely, we’ll have that.
“It was very difficult to motivate the big players to get interested in boxing. I still think it’s difficult. I’ve had a number of sit downs with big, big organisations and they’re very open to boxing, they understand the difficulties of it but they’re definitely more open and receptive to the idea that it is for them.
“With the amount of outlets, there’s so many channels on TV and they need content, they’re short of content and maybe boxing provides a solution. It fills a gap and attracts viewing figures. In Britain it’s very popular certainly. Just about any male remembers who the fighters were in the era when they were growing up. I remember when we had Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Herol Graham people would say you used to have Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Probably at that time people were saying we used to have Joe Louis. But when I was at the recent Carl Froch versus George Groves fight, that was as good as any fight I can remember seeing, in any era. That was a world class fight. And they’ll fight again those two. It was big the first time round and it’ll probably double that the second time.
“I started putting shows on at the Marriott. Then they head hunted me to go to Café Royal. When I went there I said if I’m going to join you I want this and this and this and the boss there said, ‘We’ve had so many bad experiences with boxing, we’ll give you one date, if that goes well we will give you another one, and if that goes well another, why wouldn’t we? But we’re not going to make a big commitment.’ I ended up staying there for six years. So I’m thinking the same now.”
Helliet already manages a number of boxers and anticipates that in the wake of his television deal more will join his stable.
“I’ve already had more fighters contact me. We’re planning on doing more shows and I’ve got another broadcaster that sounds very keen to get involved so I think we can accommodate more fighters. It’s very good exposure. Eurosport gets higher viewing figures than any other sports channel as far as I know because it’s not just in one country, it’s all over. Eastern Europe is an emerging market and they’re well positioned at the moment so we’ll be putting on some eastern European fighters, not just in the opponents’ corner but some prospects as well.”Tags: British Boxing