Boxxer & Sky Are On The Right Path

Boxxer & Sky Are On The Right Path

The easiest thing in boxing is to offer criticism, sorry isn’t the hardest word to say in a sport that does fickle better than most. Praise is hard-earned, especially when it comes to the new partnership that is Sky and Boxxer. The pair held their latest show on Saturday night in Coventry, and despite the usual naysayers on Social Media, there was much to like and much to be hopeful for going forward.

I’ve been to many a big show, and trust me, not everything is as rosy in the other boxing gardens as some will lead you to believe. I haven’t always been satisfactorily entertained, and from the at times, lukewarm reception from the paying punters, they agree. The good, the bad and you know the rest. At times, I’ve been bored senseless. Too many predictable fights do that. Any sport needs drama, some semblance of excitement. In Coventry, I was entertained. And that is kind of the point. From ringside, there were certainly no signs of negativity.

The embryonic relationship is little more than a year old, and they have come a relatively long way in a short space of time. It will take time to get where they want to go, but they are well on their way. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The ‘breakthrough’ show in Coventry highlights perfectly that they are on the right path.

The Coventry SkyDome was according to Boxxer, 90% full, and those in attendance generated one of the best atmospheres this observer has witnessed live in recent times. Certainly far better than watching one-sided affairs in less than half-full arenas. Forget the largely irrelevant belts on offer, the fights themselves served up what was expected. And in truth, almost certainly exceeded them.

Sam Eggington gave us his usual blood and guts display. A fighter who is always good value for money. Hopefully, he gets his due rewards next time out. And an easier night’s work. If ever a fighter deserves one, needs one even, it’s Eggington.

Dylan Cheema was in a nice little 4 rounder that showed his strengths and flaws in equal measure. Make no mistake, it was a good watch. And while River Wilson-Bent and Tyler Denny was definitely on the messy side, it still held my interest throughout. Probably a better fight live than it was from the living room. The English title win for Denny meant everything. In many ways, boxing at its purest. At its finest.

Adam Azim again demonstrated again that he is the best prospect in British boxing, although when another recent Boxxer signing Ben Whittaker is unleashed, he may have some tough in-house competition.

The Olympian Karriss Artingstall made her professional debut and showed why she could easily become one of the best pieces of business Ben Shalom has done to date.

Both Azim and Artingstall are investments for the future, and that is where Boxxer are at present. And what they are all about.

Matchroom has a different business model from the rest, a promotion with more global intentions and the DAZN pot of gold to play with. Eddie Hearn and Shalom might be in the same sport, but their aims are very different, at least in the short term. Comparisons need to be of a sensible nature. And not one of favouritism. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. The sport is big enough for both Matchroom and Boxxer.

But Boxxer has nevertheless made great strides. They delivered Amir Khan and Kell Brook when others couldn’t, and will soon deliver Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall where others couldn’t. And don’t rule out Mikaela Mayer and Alycia Baumgardner ending up on a Boxxer/Sky show in the UK. And they have more signings on the way.

Joseph Parker is a shrewd long-term signing. If, as seems inevitable, the world heavyweight titles become fragmented next year, Parker will be very much in the mix to fight for a vacant title. Having any piece of the heavyweight pie helps to balance the books. The Boxxer heavyweight ranks are elevated further by Frazer Clarke. Expect a big 2023 for Clarke.

The female stable is growing, a hidden forgotten potential gem for Boxxer. Artingstall and her partner Lauren Price look set for world titles and beyond as does another Olympian Caroline Dubois. And we shouldn’t forget Natasha Jonas. A fighter finally feeling valued, with a world title safely secured, ‘Miss GB’ is now on the hunt for more. Jonas is still targeting a September date with Hannah Rankin in a big England vs Scotland unification clash. But with an old rival threatening to gatecrash the party, Jonas may have to resort to Plan B. But Rankin or not, Jonas has options, and trust me, that hasn’t always been the case. A Liverpool homecoming will be a special night for all.

It’s too easy to give the new partnership a harder time and let others have a free pass. Boxxer and Sky have excuses for being the newborn, others don’t have that excuse. Judge fairly without prejudice and bias. The time to critique will be in the next twelve to eighteen months. We are not even at the half-term report stage yet. One year into a four-year working partnership.

There are depth and quality issues still to address but Boxxer and Sky need time to develop fully, and they should be afforded that time. We should remember where they have come from and how far they have come. Was the Matchroom/Sky partnership this good at the beginning? People remember the past with short memories.

And people forget the Sky hook up with Top Rank. Having the Bob Arum stable on their platform adds plenty to their product.

There is an admitted issue with a dilution of the product in boxing as a whole with so many promoters vying for the best available talent. But fighters now have choices, and that means they are getting paid their worth. Accusations that Boxxer is overpaying fighters, maybe it’s because they were being underpaid before. Take or leave it, they can now leave it and go elsewhere. Fighters lost in the mix in other promotions are now being given centre stage and the rewards that come with it. Why hate on that?

There does seem a willingness, an obsession even, from some, for the Boxxer/Sky relationship to fail. Why? It’s something I don’t understand, boxing is boxing. The longer Sky stays in boxing, the more the sport will thrive. And surely every fan wants that. Or do they?

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