Warren and ITV both holding their nerve

Warren2Even in these multi-channel, multi-media times the importance of terrestrial television to the future health of boxing in the UK cannot be underestimated. Sure, boxing survived a long period in the satellite wilderness in the nineties, but with so many exciting fighters currently competing; Hatton, Witter, Calzaghe, Haye, Woods, Froch and Moore it would be a great travesty were their immediate futures consigned to the marginal world of Satellite only viewing.

With just over a week to go before Frank Warren host the first of two excellent cards, the stand-off between his Sports Network stable and ITV, with whom he held a two year exclusive contract up until June, looks set to go unfeasibly close to the wire. Little has been said publicly, and little detail revealed. One assumes ITV are driving for more quality control, and though putting processes in place to promise that will be hard it is certainly impossible to contemplate a repeat of the likes of Maccarinelli v Gunn and Calzaghe v Manfredo. The sport has enough problems reaffirming its place in the hearts and minds of the British public without mismatches like that.

ITV deserve more respect too.

Warren, is of course, a graduate of negotiating with the likes of Bob Arum, Don King and European heavyweights like Mogens Palle so the narrowing of eyes and twitching of trigger fingers that occurs in the late stages of such negotiations is entirely natural to the experienced gunslinger. His options beyond ITV are slim though, and he will know that ITV coverage could make or break his ability to deliver on the present promise of his highest profile fighters.

I cannot imagine ITV failing to cover the show; Amir Khan fights for his first meaningful belt and the card also features Nicky Cook’s bid for the vacant WBO Featherweight belt, not to mention Matt Skelton v Michael Sprott, but they’re taking the negotiations to the wire. Many readers have asked for news on these discussions and I’m unable to shed anymore light, except to say ITV have failed to announce their programming plans between 9-11pm on the night of the fight.

It will be interesting to see who flinches first in the stare down. As consumers we may never know, but the announcement of whatever agreement they’ve reached is being left perilously late.

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5 thoughts on “Warren and ITV both holding their nerve

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  1. ITV now have on their boxing section of their website, this:
    Next On ITVSaturday July 14

    ITV4 – 2000-2100 – Nicky Cook v Steve Luevano
    ITV1 – 2110-2310 – Amir Khan v Willie Limond; Matt Skelton v Michael Sprott
    ITV4 – 2315-0000 – Kevin Mitchell v Alexander Hrulev

    For a long time it has said “coming soon”, so, if nothing else, the boxings on this weekend!

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  2. I just went onto ITV website, and looked up TV listeings for July 14th, ITV1.

    I found this:

    “Amir Khan v Willie Limond. Jim Rosenthal presents coverage of the Commonwealth Lightweight title bout from the O2 Arena in London. Scottish boxer Limond has just one defeat on his record and is making the first defence of his title, with the undefeated Khan challenging for his first major belt. Plus, Matt Skelton v Michael Sprott for the Commonwealth Heavyweight title. With commentary by John Rawling and Duke McKenzie, and analysis from Barry McGuigan”. Good news? I hope so

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  3. Problem is though that Sports Network dont want that, do they? So ITV would automatically lose Khan, Calzaghe etc.

    Khan is one of the sports biggest draws over here, so ITV need him,to an extent.

    But what your suggesting would be ideal. Ive read that actually thats one of the things ITV is believed to have demanded – quality control, and the right to show other promoters.

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  4. I still don’t understand why ITV want an exclusive contract with SN, why don’t they just cherry-pick the best bills from all of our promoters, because they all want the mainstream exposure that ITV provides.

    It would instantly stop any more PR disasters, such as the Manfredo and Gunn bill

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