After the recent collapse of Setanta, British fans have struggled to find an affordable channel that shows live world class boxing. With ITV refusing to broadcast any live boxing on ITV1, has boxing disappeared off mainstream television for good?
Over the last two years, Britain’s main channel, BBC, hasn’t broadcasted any boxing live bar the Olympics. No Hatton. No Calzaghe. No Haye. No Witter. No Froch. A huge number of fans that could have been hooked have turned to other sports. Something has to be done or the fans won’t stick around. Can you imagine how football fans would react if they never had any football to watch? No Match of the Day. No Football Focus. We have so many world-class fighters in our country and they aren’t getting screen time in Britain.
Is it time for the BBC to step forward and take priority?
This is what Boxing News think. They have set up a campaign demanding the BBC to show either the Super 6 Tournament or the Pacquiao-Cotto clash.
From a recent Boxing News article: “We have asked the Beeb (BBC) to come to the rescue in two areas; they can either pick up the Super Six (which seems destined to hit just the Five Live airwaves as far as the BBC is concerned) or they can go for the November 14 Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto superfight, quite possibly the biggest clash of the year but one which is yet to find a home on British TV. With the former they would have the longer investment (a two-year tournament), following Carl Froch all through a number of mouth-watering engagements to a final that is likely to be the best fight of an altogether stunning show. Of course, the benefit of that is the Beeb screens a British star (Froch), one who won two ABA titles on their channel, a World championship medal on their channel and his first pro title (the Commonwealth) on their channel. Plus he has made recent appearances on Question of Sport and the Weakest Link. The momentum is there. Into the bargain they get fights such as Jermain Taylor-Arthur Abraham, Mikkel Kessler-Andre Ward and the Froch fights versus Andre Dirrell, Arthur Abraham and Kessler. Pardon me but, wow! Or, if they would like an extra month to mull over this tidal wave of hope, they could take the other route and show Pacquiao-Cotto with some readymade story lines. Pacquiao is, of course, the man millions know as the fighter who so severely pancaked Ricky Hatton in May. Cotto, of course, is the pound-for-pound contender who buzzed through Shane Mosley, Zab Judah and a dozen other top light-welters and welters before running headfirst (repeatedly) into the questionable gloves of Antonio Margarito.
“As if that fanfare is not enough, why does the BBC not show the Pacquiao-Cotto 24/7 show to whet the appetite? With that model they have a made to order preview show to generate big (potentially huge) figures. The Beeb has dealt with HBO before. Remember Ward-Gatti II? Remember Toney-Jirov? Remember The Sopranos? All HBO products on the Beeb. This cannot be impossible. It surely is not impossible.”
The BBC have enough experts of their own to work out what fights are worth covering and which are not. They provide excellent radio coverage in the form of Mike Costello, the passionate Ronald McIntosh and the irrepressible legend Steve Bunce.
Whoever gives boxing a proper home and treats it with respect will be doing themselves a favour. Past numbers support that. And the fight fraternity agrees. It’s not over-egging the situation to say good fights attract millions of viewers especially a thrilling heavyweight contest. Cherry-picking the best fights could make BBC the home of British boxing.
Let’s show the BBC what the greatest sport on the planet means to us.