RingSide Report

World News, Social Issues, Politics, Entertainment and Sports


By Donald “Braveheart” Stewart

An opinion piece from the only Donald worth listening to…

Full Stop – In British English grammar a full stop is a lengthy pause, in the US, you call it a period. In the UK that tends to suggest feminine products. Here it means a period of time where I look at something in boxing in a little more depth. I am typing from my perspective of a fan who watches the sport closely. It’s an opinion. It is my opinion. Don’t like it? There are other opinions out there but if you don’t like it then good, debate and democracy are a good thing. If you do like it, feel free to spread the word.


Should be given where it is due.

Right now, if you are not living on the moon and follow the sport of boxing in the United Kingdom, you will have become very acquainted with Saudi Arabia – more importantly accustomed to discussions around money from Saudi Arabia…

Almost every boxer in the UK looks at what the Saudis are offering and thinks about taking classes in how to address a “Your Excellency” should the opportunity arise to turn up on one of the undercards of the heavyweight fights so loved by the Saudi Sheikh.

But a few years ago, in the UK trade paper The Boxing News, there was concern, even before the Saudi money appeared, that small hall shows were beginning to exhibit signs that they were really suffering, and mismatches were becoming increasingly common. Instead of the backbone of the sport, they were becoming farce like, even dangerous.

At the time, promoters were bemoaning the lack of a British journeyman to put in against up-and-coming fighters and were looking abroad for the types of fighters who would go in and do a bit of teaching and help train the emerging boxers from local gyms.

But now, the solution increasingly is putting decent fights on with 50/50 fights involving real contests which has sparked some life into the British circuit. In fact, if anything has benefitted in the United Kingdom from the opportunity to get credit it is the British title. Once again, the Lonsdale Belt means something. The old-style way of getting to the top is back – getting to be the best of your country before looking abroad for international recognition, instead of the plethora of international, intercontinental and silver belts which are less prominent as boxers want to be the best domestically.

The fight between Fabio Wardley and Frazier Clarke was the pinnacle of that, but it is not the only example. This month we had two world title fights on DAZN, with the headliner being a massive British battle between Zelfa Barrett and Jordan Gill in a British title and world title eliminator. Previously we had also been treated to the Ashley Lane/ Chris Bourke bantamweight British title fight which was a similar treat. Wardley/ Clarke was on Sky and Lane/ Bourke on TNT Sports reflecting the three big promoters in the UK – Matchroom (DAZN), Queensberry (TNT) and Boxxer (Sky).

Right now, Queensberry and Boxxer are coming to the end of their deals with their broadcasters and speculation is rife that Queensberry is about to throw themselves into the mix at DAZN, leaving TNT without boxing – they are more MMA to be fair than boxing in terms of their combat offer to their subscribers. Boxxer are, according to quite a few, struggling. Wardley /Clarke as well as the world title fight in Cardiff for Lauren Price which is coming up may save them as they have been trying to rebuild a stable in the aftermath of the decision by Matchroom to leave Sky. Boxxer were never immediately going to match DAZN or Matchroom at the beginning. It is now down to Sky to decide if they feel that the end justifies a throwing of the dice once more or there is another promoter out there likely to provide better content.

And there are two.

Wasserman Boxing has a deal with Terrestrial Channel, Channel 5. Chris Eubank Jr., Harlem Eubank, Sam Eggington and the latest fight with Charlie Edwards on his return to the ring have made them significant players, and their fights have been decent. They have given great content to the Channel. They do tend to be the more domestic, so it would be down to Sky to wonder if Wasserman with the Sauerlands in charge could give them good material beyond the domestic. But the Sauerlands have an incredible international pedigree, they have history and ran the World Boxing Super Series, so they have the experience. The negative is, however, that Wasserman and the Sauerlands are connected with Misfits and that may be a misfit too far for Sky.

In the mix too, must be GBM, who have signed as a commentator, former head of Sky boxing, Adam Smith. Having disappeared to fight cancer, the man many feel is the British voice of boxing has returned to give a significant boost to British boxing at the small hall level. He is a consummate broadcaster and adds some real heft to watching any fight on YouTube. Along with National broadcaster, Talk Sport who are also providing live content free to air fights on YouTube, the domestic scene feels like it is thriving. The value of hearing voices commentate on fights that are 4, 6 or even 8 rounds which you have heard commentate on world title fights gives that experience a value it has hitherto not had. It is clearly the wave behind the emergence of some serious fights at international level involving British fighters over the last four or five years.

And so, coming up and to be looked forward to we have the DAZN headliner for the British cruiserweight title between Cheavon Clarke and Ellis Zorro after another fighter pulled out last minute from purse bids, super bantamweight Tysie Gallagher – already Commonwealth champion – taking on Stev-Ann Levy for the female British title, Boxxer will decide dates for the super middleweight title fight between Zak Chelli, champion and Callum Simpson, challenger, Boxxer shall feature the super welterweight battle between Sam Gilley and Louise Greene, whilst Sam Kynoch features as the promoter of an eliminator at that weight between Sion Yaxley and his own Dean Sutherland and the mandated defense of his super lightweight British title between Dalton Smith and Boxxer’s emerging Adam Azim is in disarray after Azim pulled out at the last minute. But the next British title fight is between Dennis McCann and Peter McGrail on DAZN on the 27th of April. It’s a cracker – as is small hall boxing in the United Kingdom. Vibrant and filled with real contests. And, given the number of fights that Boxxer is central to, perhaps their demise is being prematurely whispered…

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