Blue Sky for British boxing
August, 28, 2012
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty ImagesTony Bellew will headline the first card in a Matchroom Sport-Sky Sports deal on Sept. 8.Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn and Sky Sports made official on Tuesday what has been an open secret in boxing circles for months: that Matchroom will now be the principal promoter supplying the British subscription channel with its fights.
It's a big deal because Sky has for years been the main network for British boxing, like HBO and Showtime in the United States.
Matchroom and Sky announced a two-year deal for 20 cards per year, with the first show taking place when the new season kicks off on Sept. 8 in London with light heavyweight Tony Bellew headlining against Edison Miranda.
The second show of the deal will feature junior featherweight prospect Carl Frampton defending his Commonwealth title against former world titleholder Steve Molitor on Sept. 22 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Another show on the books will feature welterweight contender Kell Brook against Hector Saldivia in a title eliminator on Oct. 20 in Sheffield, England, Brook's hometown. The winner will be the mandatory challenger for the title held by Randall Bailey.
Matchroom is also responsible for the popular "Prizefighter" cards that Sky has been airing for the past few years. They feature eight fighters in the same weight class in a one-night tournament format of three-round bouts that have proven popular with viewers and gamblers.
The No. 1 fighter in the Matchroom stable is super middleweight titlist Carl Froch, whose first defense against Yusaf Mack on Nov. 17 in his hometown of Nottingham, England is also part of the deal.
Other fighters in the Matchroom stable who will appear on the shows include former middleweight title challenger Darren Barker and former junior welterweight titlist Gavin Rees.
The deal is great for Matchroom, of course, but it cuts out other British promoters who also had been doing business with Sky -- Ricky Hatton's Hatton Promotions, Frank Warren and Frank Maloney.
Warren's business is now mainly on the all-boxing subscription network that he has a stake in, BoxNation, while Maloney recently did a deal with BoxNation to feature some of his top fighters, such as heavyweight prospect David Price. Hatton's company remains without a British TV deal.