By Boxing Insider News
In an announcement that is bound to substantially raise the stakes for British boxing in the coming years, some of the top names in the sport in the U.K. have teamed up to bring fight fans a package of prospective matchups that will be presented on BoxNation, the ’round-the-clock boxing channel in Britain, and do direct battle with Sky Sports.
The group that has been assembled includes Frank Warren, one of the United Kingdom’s leading promoters; Frank Maloney, who is a leading manager (managers and promoters can be one in the same in the U.K.), and iconic boxing figures such as Ricky Hatton, Barry McGuigan and Amir Khan, through his promotional company. Together, they control quite a bit of the talent that is available. But not all of it.
Eddie Hearn, who runs Matchroom Sport, the biggest rival of Warren’s, is backed by Sky TV, and thus there is an escalating war over who will wind up with the best fighters, with stars playing one side against the other. Hearn is in a leveraged position as someone who, by way of his father Barry, has his fingers into many sports that are televised with Sky, but the new arrangement is something designed to bring this combination of boxing entities on more even ground, and then some, with its powerful adversary, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch.
Warren, in the column he pens for The Sun, explained that “boxing politics have stopped big bouts from taking place,” although the politics of television, which are directly related to boxing, may have reached a new level of importance here.
Hatton, aside from bringing all of the fighters he has under contract into the deal (eighteen of them, including middleweight contender Martin Murray), has also agreed to be the front man for this new venture.
Hatton’s company was said to be in severe financial difficulty; in a position where it had problems in meeting its promotional obligations to fighters in the stable. Notable among these was Scott Quigg, the WBA interim super bantamweight champion who departed for Matchroom just a couple of weeks ago, even though Hatton had been working out a deal where he would fight in the U.S. under the co-promotional banner of Golden Boy Promotions.
Hatton had lost his television dates to Hearn, and that had much to do with the problems he encountered. But the deal with BoxNation provides a ready solution.
Maloney also moves toward a major goal, which is to lead David Price toward a preeminent position in the heavyweight ranks. The massive heavyweight (and Commonwealth champion) who was stopped in two rounds by Tony Thompson on February 23, has a return match set for July 6 and could earn himself a fight with Dereck Chisora if he wins.
McGuigan, the former world featherweight champion, is undertaking a big push for Carl Frampton, a 122-pounder who has won all 16 of his fights, including a Commonwealth title, and who may have been ticketed for a bout with Quigg had the move to Matchroom not taken place. However, McGuigan may now have some added ammunition to deliver a fight with Jonathan Romero for the IBF crown.
Basically this divides the pool of talent in the United Kingdom into two TV camps. On Sky Sports fans will be able to see the likes of Carl Froch, the IBF super middleweight champ; Ricky Burns, who holds the WBO lightweight title; Tony Bellew, a top contender for the WBC 175-pound belt; Kell Brook, an undefeated welterweight; super middleweight George Groves, who is #1 in the WBO; Darren Barker, who has fought for the middleweight title, and now Quigg.
The BoxNation roster includes Khan, Price, Chisora, Murray, Frampton, Nathan Cleverly, who is the WBO light heavyweight champion; Frankie Gavin, a top ten welterweight in the WBO ratings, and Billy Joe Saunders, who is among the WBC’s top 15 middleweights.