By Paul Mason
When fans learned of the tie up between BT Sport and Boxnation, it seemed as though boxing in Britain was as healthy as its ever been. However, the waters were muddied slightly by a double edged sword from ITV earlier this month.
The terrestrial channel announced its return to the sport with Robbie Davies Jnr taking on the experienced Willie Limond in January. While this seemed encouraging, what followed bordered on the bizarre, when ITV announced their intention to deliver boxing on a pay-per view platform. However, this was not to be a blockbuster matchup between pound for pound contenders or a British boxer going for a world title against an established champion, instead they announced Chris Eubank Junior (23-1) would fight against the unknown Renold Quinlan for the spurious IBO Super Middleweight Title.
To say that fans have reacted with laughter and anger in equal measure is an understatement. Eubank has been pretty nomadic with promoters and channels throughout his 24 fight career, he has aligned with Mick Hennessey, Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren so far, and appeared on Channel 5, Sky and Boxnation. Rather telling for his next assignment, the promoter is the little known Richard Poxon, who is best known to fight fans as the trainer of the former IBF Light Heavyweight Champion, Clinton Woods. This is obviously designed for the Eubanks to benefit financially to the maximum.
What is more is the fight is scheduled to take place in early 2017 at Lee Valley Leisure Centre of all places, which will make it possibly the most sparsely attended box office event of all time. On top of all this, in the last few days, Chris Eubank Senior has taken to Twitter to insinuate that the fight would cost fans in the region of £20.
When you consider that fans pay around £17 with the Sky Sports Box Office platform, and where Eddie Hearn may not deliver the main events all of the time, the undercards are usually packed with 50/50 fights and talent. What ITV propose is a Eubank undercard on ITV4 for free, with fans paying for only the main event. This to me seems ludicrous. Especially when you factor in Eubank Juniors opponent is 11-1 in a career that began in 2008, and his only win of any note was in his last fight in October this year, a second round knockout of the badly faded former IBF Middleweight champion, Daniel Geale.
One hopes the fans vote with their hands and decide against ordering this debacle. As big as a fan I am of the sport, I feel that the fans are being let down massively by arguably Britains biggest opportunity to showcase boxing on terrestrial TV. Time will tell if the network will reverse this decision, but considering fans are expected to pay out twice in the space of a month for both David Haye v Tony Bellew (March 4th) and Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko (April 8th) events, its unlikely the Eubank event will draw big numbers.