Given a massive budget and an array of talent to choose from, Sky Sports should be leading the way at the forefront of boxing coverage in the United Kingdom – so why isn’t it?
Head of Boxing Adam Smith has been given the power to bring the cream of British boxers to Sky customers screens through Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn and has his choice of experts past or present to deliver the right programming for fans.
The likes of world-rated stars Carl Froch, Kell Brook, Scott Quigg, James DeGale, and George Groves all fight on Sky, not to mention Olympic gold medallists Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell, so there should be nothing to complain about when switching on to Sky’s fight night air time.
On the contrary, though, there are constant groans from fans about mismatch cards and a commentary team in Nick Halling and Jim Watt that a large portion of the UK boxing fraternity keep on mute. Add to that only partial live screening from events, and it all piles up to a ‘could do better’ report card for the broadcasting giants from some bill-payers.
One example would be the recent Saturday night bill from Birmingham, where Anthony Joshua topped the bill against Rafael Zumbano Love. This fighter really should only be fit to be a low-level sparring partner, never mind take full-blooded punches from the Londoner.
Hearn rightly chose to defend the level of opposition Joshua faced on the night as those who pay money to see a fight should get to see one. It’s not really about which fighters the opponent has gone this many rounds with in the past, match-making should be about where both boxers are in the stratosphere now, and clearly, Joshua and Love were light-years apart.
The real grumble with the punters was the Jamie McDonnell fight – which turned out to be the night’s fight and the Doncaster man’s most significant achievement to date.
The sad thing is, the British subscription-paying public didn’t even get to witness the fight live. Most would have liked at least to delay the whole Barclaycard Arena show. To solely dedicate the night to make sure the WBA bantamweight title holder’s contest with Tomoki Kameda was a priority.
Rollback a week to the Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao super-fight. You could have written a book using the forum and social media posts from outraged fans over analysts Halling and Watt heading the commentating duties.
Fans paid £19.95 each for the privilege of hearing.
It’s a harsh fact to state, but most pay-per-view buyers would have much instead listened to either the HBO or Showtime coverage on offer. They are highly frustrated with Watt and Halling – whom a lot see as out of touch with the sport.
BoxNation seem to lead the way with their rivalled coverage as fans know exactly where they stand and presenter Steve Bunce didn’t mind telling them that when his channel began live broadcasting of Canelo v Kirkland on Saturday night.
Paying £12 per month, subscribers with BoxNation are safe in the knowledge, well in advance, that events will be shown live, untouched and in full – so maybe it’s time Sky used their budget for an overhaul and to dedicate more airtime to those fighter’s they have forked out to showcase.
Those who have the cash are expected to pay another £14.95 for Kell Brook v Frankie Gavin on May 30, just three weeks after forking out for the Mayweather v Pacquiao event, and I have no doubt there will be more gripes to come at the end of the month.
The views expressed in this article are that of the Editor, Phil Jay.