By Terence Dooley
Frank Maloney could be the latest promoter to leave Sky TV’s rapidly diminishing boxing stable according to yesterday’s edition of British tabloid newspaper The Sun. Maloney, a long-time regular on Sky, is believed to have been dropped by the subscription network despite having David Price, one of British heavyweight boxing’s brightest hopes, in his stable.
It means that both Maloney and Ricky Hatton will be left to scratch around for a TV deal from Channel 5, BoxNation, the U.K.’s two other players in the boxing on TV business, or someone else. Alternatively, Maloney may opt to step back from promoting and concentrate on managing Price, who could then appear on our screens as part of a tie-in with Matchroom, the promotional outfit who now provide Sky’s entire boxing output give or take the odd U.S. bill.
Price, 13-0 (11), picked up the vacant British and commonwealth belts with a solid fourth-round KO of Sam Sexton last month and is due to fight in Atlantic City on July 27. However, the 6’ 8’’ 28-year-old heavyweight prospect was left disappointed after failing to secure a domestic showdown with the former British and Commonwealth titlist Tyson Fury, who vacated the belts due to the difficulties of making a fight with Price as Fury boxes on Channel 5.
The failure on both sides to make Fury versus Price due to rival TV deals meant that British boxing fans lost out on another big domestic clash. Indeed, the list of big U.K. fights that don’t get made is far greater than the roll call fights that do (eventually) get made.
Granted, Rendall Munroe and Scott Quigg finally met to decide British 126lb supremacy at the weekend, but that one ended in a technical draw after a clash of heads in round three left Munroe with an horrendous cut above his right eye – a wound which required nine stitches.
Ironically, it was Hatton Promotions’s last bill on Sky TV. Despite producing a packed card it was a case of too little too late for Ricky Hatton’s firm and, it would seem, Maloney who are now both out in the cold as far as Sky are concerned as the network looks to Matchroom for its future boxing output.
Indeed, there are fears that Matchroom’s expected boxing monopoly on Sky TV will be a bad thing for the sport and many, this writer included, wonder if Eddie Hearn and his team will be able to bring together the best fighters in the country for regular fifty-fifty fights. History would suggest that this will not be the case simply because boxing never, ever gets it right on a regular basis.
Still, recent events suggest that Sky are tired of working with promoters who will not work with one another, cannot or will not match their leading names against the best possible opponents on a regular basis and have, in the past, used Sky’s system of awarding relatively long-term contracts to their pool of promoters to produce shows that are often all filler and no thriller. Only putting together the best bills and fights when they are approaching the end of their current TV deals and angling for new ones.
Sky, it seems, have now underlined the fact that boxing is not a charity and that TV networks cannot continue to support a sport that gets it wrong more often than it gets it right and which has been on a path of self-destruction for decades. It may be that promotional groups will now have to routinely pitch their men in against the best to produce the best fights and push the sport forward. Then again…
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