2015 has been an excellent year for British boxing and expectations for the sport are at an all time high going into 2016. Boxing is gaining plenty of media attention and there has been a huge surge of interest which has seen the sport grow massively this past year.
However, the big talking point surrounding boxing as we enter 2016 is the Pay-Per-View market and unfortunately it’s here to stay. Ever since the debacle of David Haye’s clash with Wladimir Klitschko in 2011 which left people feeling short-changed and hugely disappointed, the format was declared to be outdated and past it’s time in the UK.
Over the past 18 months, Sky have slowly brought it back and it’s now once again becoming a regular occurrence. It doesn’t happen in any other sport, but already next year we will get two offerings from Sky in Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg’s highly awaited fight on February 27th and Anthony Joshua against a yet to be announced opponent in April.
And just to add to it, Frank Warren has confirmed he is looking at options, as is Mick Hennessy. So that’s the UK’s three top promoters all looking at a PPV option and another way to extort money out of a growing fanbase.
Imagine if Sky or another broadcaster decided to charge football fans to watch specific games. Every time there is a Merseyside, North London or Manchester Derby, or any game featuring Chelsea then you would have to pay an extra £16.95 on top of your already overpriced subscription.
There would be uproar. So why should we have to pay extra to watch Tony Bellew and Nathan Cleverly? The card might do good numbers and casual fans will think it well worth the price and compliment the promoter in the hope of a retweet, but real fans know they have been ripped off.
A regular excuse for using PPV is purses and how they have stacked the card with names who are all getting paid handsomely, sometimes in massive mismatches.
But, since the return of PPV, the quality of cards shown on regular Sky programming has deteriorated over the past year in particular. Name one good card that Sky and Matchroom have put on this year that hasn’t been PPV?
Why don’t they “unstack” the card, people are going to pay for it anyway, and put some of these fights on the regular shows. Who knows it might even increase the PPV numbers, as people will actually know who the fighters on the undercard actually are.
PPV will just become the norm in 2016 and beyond, especially if Anthony Joshua and his hype train continues rolling along at the pace it’s going. You can forget about watching “AJ” on regular Sky, as they have got their wish and put him in such a position that people will pay to watch him regardless.
But, what would we like to see in 2016? Well, have a look at my wish list, some of which are admittedly wishful thinking, and see if you agree and also what else you want to add to the list.
The 2016 Wish List
1. Referees and Judges reprimanded for shocking scorecards and stoppages. I’d love them to be able to explain their decisions as well, but the BBBofC and other boards around the world prevent it from happening. Personally, I would love to know why Terry O’Connor didn’t give Sean Dodd at least a count against Scotty Cardle, probably robbing Dodd of a British title. Suspensions should be handed out.
2. Unbiased commentary. How many complaints were there when Adam Smith and Glenn McCrory commentated on Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko’s fight? Not many. It’s the same with BoxNation, where the duo of John Rawling and Barry Jones are excellent, as is Channel 5’s combination. But when it’s Jim Watt and Nick Halling on Sky it is embarrassing to listen to, as they cheerlead for their favourite, refuse to acknowledge the opponent and seem to be watching something totally different to everybody else. Yes, the mute button is a wonderful thing in their case, but good commentary adds to the excitement. Sky’s current offering makes you just want to turn off.
3. More unifications. It would be great to see one champion per weight, but that is never going happen. If the IBF hadn’t stripped Fury, we could have it seen in the heavyweight division if he fought Deontay Wilder, depending on whether Alexander Povetkin had caught up with the WBC belt holder yet. We’re all still waiting in hope that Sergey Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson can agree a deal to fight to unify at light-heavyweight, although to be honest I think we’re well out of luck. It baffles me why more current belt holders don’t actually want to unify a division and prove they are the best, but are just content to hold on to their belt and take easy fights. Isn’t the point of boxing to prove you are genuinely the best?
4. A Boycott of the WBA. The pinnacle of being a boxer is winning a world title and gaining the recognition of the World Champion. You name me one fighter who dreamed as a young kid of becoming the WBA Interim Champion. Not one. How can one sanctioning body then believe it is all right to have three champions in each weight. It’s confusing for fans, fighters and everyone else involved in boxing, except the promoters who use it as another way to take your money. As far as I’m concerned if you’re not the WBA Super Champion, you aren’t the world champion and that’s how the other sanctioning bodies consider it, rightly as well in my opinion. The only way to stop the greed of the WBA is for promoters and fighters to ignore it and only fight for other titles, unless it is the Super title. Chances of it happening? None.
5. Final one from me, more boxing on terrestrial TV. Carl Frampton’s last two fights have been on ITV and there have been some enjoyable offerings on Channel 5. David Haye returns on January 16th and rumours are circling that will be on terrestrial TV. That can only be good for boxing and will add to the interest that is growing week in, week out. The BBC won’t be coming back anytime soon after the Audley Harrison failure, but with ITV, Channel 5 and Spike, there have been more than enough good fights for fans to enjoy. People dismiss fighters as poor if they haven’t heard of them before, but Channel 5 viewers were treated to a Gennady Golovkin – Martin Murray fight in February. We pay enough for Sky, BoxNation and even BT show the odd PBC fight. Add to that the three promoters all now looking at PPV, boxing is costing a fortune to watch at home. The more on free TV, the better and more fans to try and rob with your next PPV card.
Matt Bevan is freelance journalist and contributes to several other leading publications on a weekly basis. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MBevs68.