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