ED­I­TOR’S LET­TER

The Box Of ce clash on De­cem­ber 22 is not good for the sport

Boxing News - - Contents - Ed­i­tor Matt Christie @Mattcbox­ingnews @Box­ingnewsed Boxingnewsonline

The un­help­ful pay-per-view clash

THAT Dil­lian Whyte will re­match Dereck Chisora on Sky Sports Box Of­fice on De­cem­ber 22, the night when Josh War­ring­ton takes on Carl Framp­ton in a BT Sport Box Of­fice event, high­lights that the pay-per-view (PPV) model has lost con­trol. Whether it ever had any con­trol is an­other mat­ter en­tirely.

Bri­tish box­ing is un­ques­tion­ably amid a boom pe­riod. If one was look­ing for ev­i­dence, this lat­est de­vel­op­ment could cer­tainly be Ex­hibit A. Not so long ago, the idea of sched­ul­ing two PPV events in the same year, let alone on the same night, would have been out of the ques­tion. The fights and fighters, cer­tainly at do­mes­tic level, did not ex­ist. In turn, nei­ther did the ap­petite among fans. Only truly elite con­tests dared to charge pun­ters ex­tra.

That we are now in a po­si­tion where sev­eral events a year are deemed wor­thy of PPV, and are mak­ing more fighters rich than ever be­fore, could be re­garded as a pos­i­tive. Short-sighted greed might be the con­clu­sion drawn from two in one night, how­ever.

While the War­ring­ton-framp­ton con­test is un­ques­tion­ably a top-notch world ti­tle bout it’s ar­guable whether it would have been deemed Ppv-wor­thy a few years ago. But Dil­lian Whyte vs Dereck Chisora II? Solid sup­port­ing bout, but stand-alone PPV? The times are cer­tainly chang­ing. Hearn claims that it’s hap­pen­ing be­cause Whyte wants an­other con­test be­fore po­ten­tially chal­leng­ing An­thony Joshua. That bout will hap­pen in April should Deon­tay Wilder ei­ther fail to agree terms to fight Joshua or lose to Tyson Fury in De­cem­ber.

So the mak­ing of Whyte-chisora II is un­der­stand­able (the first one was a thriller) but it’s far from a ne­ces­sity. It’s not the un­miss­able con­test a Box Of­fice show­down should surely be. Par­tic­u­larly when it’s be­ing staged on a night which al­ready has a box­ing event vy­ing for our Christ­mas cop­pers.

So who do we blame? It would be easy to point the fin­ger at Ed­die Hearn and Sky Sports. While Ed­die and co have cer­tainly made Box Of­fice events fash­ion­able in re­cent times, it would be un­fair to ig­nore the pos­i­tive steps the sport has taken dur­ing this rev­o­lu­tion. Also con­sider that Hearn is a nat­u­ral born busi­ness­man. He has spot­ted op­por­tu­ni­ties and acted upon them, largely suc­cess­fully. Not only for him­self and Match­room Box­ing, but for the fighters he pro­motes.

How­ever, many fans feel in­creas­ingly short-changed. Out of love for the sport they reach into their pock­ets. Thou­sand upon thou­sand will make their choice and buy the event they would like to see the most. One won­ders if this is the tip­ping point. Cer­tainly, with­out any rules and bound­aries in place for the pro­mot­ers and broad­cast­ers to fol­low, open sea­son would seem to be upon us.

Which brings us back to that word: con­trol. Or the lack of. Hearn is not break­ing any rules. In­deed, from a busi­ness point of view, one could ar­gue he is rewrit­ing them. But this lat­est move is far from ad­mirable.

Back in April, Sky staged an Amir Khan bout on the same night BT broad­cast Carl Framp­ton’s vic­tory over Nonito Don­aire. There was out­rage among fans then, and rightly so. Glar­ing warn­ing signs about the sit­u­a­tion we now face. But no rules were cre­ated to pre­vent it from not only hap­pen­ing again, but hap­pen­ing on a big­ger, al­to­gether more ex­pen­sive scale.

Foot­ball is a dif­fer­ent sport en­tirely and Premier League sched­ul­ing metic­u­lously planned. It has the ob­vi­ous ben­e­fit of a fix­ture list be­ing de­cided long be­fore the first ball of the sea­son is kicked. With those fixtures in place, the tele­vi­sion rights law comes into its own. Five pack­ages of 32 matches along­side two pack­ages of 20 matches are ef­fec­tively put on the mar­ket for broad­cast­ers to bid. No one broad­caster can show more than 148 matches, and no two matches can be broad­cast at the same time. Box­ing does not have the lux­ury of such for­ward plan­ning and it never will. But such rules were put in place to avoid a sit­u­a­tion where the in­ter­ests of fans – both sta­dium and arm­chair – were com­pro­mised.

Box­ing, col­lec­tively, must find a so­lu­tion to en­sure its loyal sup­port­ers are granted the same re­spect.

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Photo: AC­TION IMAGES/ALAN WAL­TER

HERE WE GO AGAIN: Whyte and Chisora con rm their se­quel

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