There has been some concern among British boxing fans about the offerings from Sky Sports since Eddie Hearn and Matchroom made their deal with DAZN to stream fights in the United States.
I’m not myself a British boxing fan, so I’ll turn it over to our own Lewis Watson, who examined the situation about a month ago:
Saturday Fight Nights used to be the bread and butter of the boxing schedule. A range of talent would be on display from venues up and down the country with titles ranging from domestic area level to world championships up for grabs. ‘Ringside’ — a magazine show — would be aired on a Thursday evening building up to the weekend’s action with relentless plugging.
The DAZN deal looks to have changed everything. Look at who has made the leap Stateside since the deal was announced. Anthony Crolla, Rocky Fielding, Gavin McDonnell, Jono Carroll, Kal Yafai, Luke Campbell, Scott Quigg, Tommy Coyle, Callum Johnson. Yes, they are all at different stages of their careers, but the lure of money and exposure Stateside has meant their standing as Saturday Fight Night headliners has taken a back seat. ... Ted Cheeseman vs Sergio Garcia and Jordan Gill vs Emmanuel Dominguez is all we’ve had since the turn of the year on free-to-air Sky Sports — which isn’t in the early hours of the morning. This isn’t a slight on Cheeseman or Gill, but the standard of shows seem to be slipping fast.
In order to combat some of these concerns, everyone has gotten proactive, which is odd to see from anyone in boxing, really. Earlier today, it was announced that the World Boxing Super Series has reached a deal with Matchroom Boxing and Sky Sports to broadcast their upcoming tournament semifinals fights in the United Kingdom, starting with this Saturday’s card from Louisiana.
Now, a card from Louisiana isn’t going to be primetime hours in the United Kingdom, but others will. On April 27, Regis Prograis faces Kiryl Relikh at 140 pounds, with Nonito Donaire facing Zolani Tete — a familiar name for UK fans — at 118.
The biggest get of the three semifinal cards is definitely the May 18 show from Glasgow, featuring 140-pounder Josh Taylor against Ivan Baranchyk, plus bantamweights Emmanuel Rodriguez and Naoya Inoue going at it. That’s just a top-quality doubleheader, tournament or not.
Sky will also have the June 15 show from Latvia, featuring the cruiserweight semifinals, pitting Mairis Briedis against Krzysztof Glowacki and Yunier Dorticos against Andrew Tabiti.
Adam Smith, head of Sky Sports boxing, says he’s thrilled to add the World Boxing Super Series, and in particular focused on Josh Taylor, as would be expected.
“I’ve admired the talent of Josh Taylor for a while and I’ll look forward to another red-hot atmosphere in Glasgow as Taylor bids to become the latest in a line of proud Scottish World champions,” Smith said.
“It’s wonderful to add The World Boxing Super Series semifinals to our stacked Sky Sports schedule for the summer. The fearsome Naoya Inoue and four-weight champion Nonito Donaire also bring star quality to a tournament featuring world title fights, former champions, and unbeaten contenders.”
Hearn said, “I’m delighted to bring these fight nights to Sky Sports and particularly pleased to air the big May 18 card from Glasgow. It’s a massive chance for Josh Taylor to become world champion and the fight between pound-for-pound star Inoue and Rodriguez is a cracker.”
And neither of them will say it publicly, but it has to be a bit of a stress relief for everyone. Sky get some quality boxing, and Eddie Hearn isn’t himself pressured to put the cards together for the network.
In the United States, of course, all of these fights will stream live on DAZN.