Having watched the rise and rise of his rival for some time it is now the turn of Frank Warren to show his “Queensberry” tactics by taking on at least 3 fighters with world title potential; two of whom may well be arriving from his rival’s stable. On the back of a very decent TV deal with BT Sport, Warren strides once more across the UK boxing stage. The Matchroom hegemony, under Eddie Hearn, has been challenged and there are plenty of opportunities for promoting growth in the UK.
Warren had fallen a little out the limelight in recent years and had made his own way in the broadcasting world by launching BoxNation on the satellite platform. Eddie Hearn had taken the Sky Sports route and made his fighters a lot of money as their exposure was stratospheric. Warren has secured a deal which will see 20 live British shows aired per year, with a further 40 shows (30 international) shown on BoxNation.
The mass market for boxing, though has always been at Sky in the UK though BoxNation has made inroads into the share – it has been more about it securing some additionality as boxing popularity soars in the UK.
Between these two major promoters in the UK there is not always much between them and to be fair to both, there is not much by way of visible rivalry between them. Now and again a swipe or two from Frank Warren’s newspaper column ignites some internet excitement but truly not much does get said. When it makes sense of course they sensibly work together. They do, however, dominate the boxing landscape and anyone who wants to be anyone must think about which of the two would be most likely to look after their interests best.
This week it is widely expected that Josh Warrington, 24-0, 5 KO’s, shall make the jump from Matchroom to Warren. Warrington’s contract with Matchroom came up for renewal recently and Eddie Hearn decided not to offer an extension. It is also believed that super bantamweight Kid Galahad 21-0, 12 KO’s, is also set to be unveiled as another addition to Warren’s stable. This follows Warren confirming that he had signed British super lightweight champion Tyrone Nurse 34-2-1, 7 KO’s.
When asked if it looked likely that Warrington, a massive prospect on the world stage, would be heading towards his rival, Frank Warren Hearn was sanguine about it; all the best was the message.
Such rivalry is obviously very good for fans and the healthy nature of the sport is very much another additional bonus as we look forward to 2017. As Warren takes the plaudits just now he is likely to believe that he can match any show that Matchroom puts on. For Hearn, his innovation came a few years ago, when he brought PrizeFighter into the ring. He refused to just accept the orthodox view that all promoters had to do was indulge in some form of waiting game as the boxers fought on and eventually people might decide to tune in. Hearn took the bull by the £32,000 prize fund horns and made people tune in by playing with the format and doing what was, for many purists, the unthinkable.
Some of the PrizeFighter participants have done well, but the major thing that Hearn must take credit for is bringing a few names into the spotlight that otherwise might not have been known. The first winner, for example, heavyweight from Belfast, Martin Rogan 16-6, 8 KO’s, is one name that won’t be known in the US but we all know who he is here. He never made it much further in the sport, being a part time taxi driver in Belfast, but he got the limelight for a while – including a couple of fights with Audley Harrison and a Commonwealth title.
Between the top promoters, their influence on the resurgence of boxing in the UK is clear. Most of our world champions are promoted by one of them. Matchroom boasts WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew 28-2-1, 18 KO’s, IBF welterweight champion, Kell Brook, 36-1, 25 KO’s, WBA light welterweight champion Ricky Burns 41-5-1, 14 KO’s, WBA regular light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly, 30-3, 16 KO’s, IBF super middle weight champion James DeGale, 13-1, 14 KO’s, WBA regular bantamweight Jamie McDonnell, 29-2-1, 13 KO’s, IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby, 23-1, 8 KO’s, WBC super flyweight champion Kal Yafai, 21-0, 14 KO’s and IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, 18-0, 18 KO’s.
Queensberry Promotions have the WBO lightweight champion, Terry Flanagan, 32-0, 13 KO’s, and the WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders, 24-0, 12 KO’s.
There are only 2 UK world champions not promoted by either of the big two can you name them?
You can see quite clearly the gap that Warren wants to fill…Contact the Feature Writers