Setanta, Skywalker and Bunce; Boxing’s New Hope

Watching Steve Bunce’s Boxing Hour last night on Setanta Sports 2, I was struck by a number of things. Firstly, how good it is to see a magazine show for the sport where debate, discussion are preeminent over the gloss Sky once applied to their weekly Ringside presentation. True, big Buncey isn’t to everyone’s taste and it took me a while to ‘get’ his role, persona and style, to understand that enthusiasm and energy were his USPs and his tongue was firmly in his cheek. But I do now and it works.

A boxing night isn’t the same without his animated contribution. But the Setanta hour is more than just Bunce let loose.

The greatest asset the hour has is its even-handedness and Setanta’s editorial decision to embrace the entire sport and not just those fights and fighters which appear on its own promotions. Last night was almost exclusively devoted to Amir Khan, Audley Harrison and Alex Arthur. Three fighters who appeared on SKY PPV last weekend and unlikely to appear on a Setanta screen anytime soon.

It wasn’t posthumous gloating either, Harrison and Arthur were both contributors on the phone and both afforded respect following their mixed fortunes over the weekend. Further to this, tomorrow night’s Prizefighter 2 show , SKY promotion, was given extensive coverage, including an telephone interview with previous champion Martin Rogan and his thoughts on the new card as well as a extended feature on second-favourite Dave Ferguson at his gym in the North-East.

It is hard to imagine ITV or SKY offering such warm-hearted promotion of a rival’s show. Only recently, ITV allowed Amir Khan, while resident on their channel, to mislead the casual fan by ignoring the names of British Champion Jon Thaxton and fellow youngster John Murray. For the informed fan, it was a criminal abuse of the trust placed in the broadcaster. Equally, it wasn’t long ago, SKY were announcing the results of rival promoter’s cards ahead of highlight shows on other channels. A chilling disregard for the fans tuning in who would, more than likely, be hoping to mix the two events.

Setanta may get a lot of criticism, certainly their England football contract crept up on fans unaware they’d need a Setanta subscription to see the national team, but being a subscriber has been an enjoyable experience for me. I commented recently that being part of Setanta felt a little like being part of Luke Skywalker’s rebellion, sure the spacecraft lacked the shine and volume of the empire, SKY, but their hearts are in the right place.

I’d urge anyone to tune into the boxing show, it appears regularly on a Thursday at 2pm and has a number of repeats over the next 24 hours, I caught it at 9pm last night. For reference, they afforded the big Setanta card this weekend, Joan Guzman v Nate Campbell, around 3 minutes attention last night.

Unlike so many of the SKY shows of the past, it doesn’t need selling. “Trust me”.

Boxing opinion and insight by David Payne


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