Every so often, the mainstream media enjoys taking pot shots at our sport, accusing it often of being “dead”. This is not a recent phenomenon, even going back to what is now considered somewhat of a golden age, when Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston, many people at the time thought it was a sham and believed boxing to be in its dying embers. Today, the sport has been marginalized in some sectors, particularly in the US market. Indeed, on websites such as Yahoo, boxing is now reduced to the “other” category in their sports section.
However, 2011 has proven to be a boom year for boxing in the UK, particularly as it pertains to television. Last month saw the launch of a brand new boxing exclusive television channel called BoxNation. It will feature fighters primarily from Frank Warren’s stable but also deals with Golden Boy and Sauerland have been struck to ensure that fans are able to see the best action from across the globe. Also featured on the channel will be classic fights as well as the much anticipated return of “Buncey’s Boxing Hour” with well renowned British journalist Steve Bunce who in the past had a popular show on the now defunct Setanta channel.
All this is in conjunction with the recent return for the sport to terrestrial television. Channel 5 has screened British heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury’s last two fights, his bout with Dereck Chisora in particular drew a large television audience back in July and credit must go to promoter Mick Hennessey for striking a deal with the network.
Sky Sports continues to showcase the talents of Matchroom’s roster of boxers which includes Carl Froch, Kell Brook and Darren Barker, among others. The channel also has a deal with Frank Maloney Promotions who have continued to deliver quality cards even if they don’t have the biggest names under their banner.
So heading towards the final part of the year and into 2012, boxing on television in the UK is in a healthy spot. With next weekend’s exciting action involving Nathan Cleverly vs Tony Bellew on my side of the pond and Bernard Hopkins vs Chad Dawson in the United States, fans will surely be tuning in to BoxNation. It also remains to be seen if the channel will show the anticipated rubber match between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. The channel will be free for the next couple of months and from then on there will be a £10 per month subscription. Sign me up!
(Editor's Note: Rope A Dope Radio would like to welcome our newest writer, Ben Jacobs to the team.)