Two World Title Fights In One Night - And No UK TV Coverage. How Times Have Changed!

by James Slater - Years ago it would have been unheard of. Tonight, as all big boxing fans are only too aware, there are two most interesting and competitively matched world title fights taking place in Europe - as WBC heavyweight king Vitali Klitschko meets his number-one contender Juan Carlos Gomez in Germany, and WBA super-bantamweight boss Ricardo Cordoba meets Ireland's Bernard Dunne in Dunne's home country. Big fights to be sure, but, staggeringly, upsettingly and disappointingly, neither fight can be watched live on UK television. As I've said already, years ago this would have been unheard of..

But today, even though there are so many more TV channels available for the punters to get their hands on (at great cost a lot of the time) boxing is less and less available on the box. Can you imagine the BBC or ITV not picking up a world title fight involving an incredibly popular Irishman fifteen or so years ago? No chance. How about a fight that contests a heavyweight world title, between a man many see as the best big man in the sport against his top contender? Again, no way. Okay, we know the terrestrial channels have let their boxing coverage fall off in the last fifteen years or thereabouts, making way for the cable guys at SKY and more recently Setanta - but tonight they too have let us guys in the UK down!

This is not news, as those fans who are right now venting their anger on ESB's forum page know only too well - yet is still rankers. Today, with the TV giants that are SKY and Setanta covering boxing, it is amazing that neither channel secured the rights to one of the two big fights taking place tonight. Maybe one or both of the networks was not able to afford the fights, or maybe they simply preferred to spend their money on other bouts, to be shown live in the future. It's understandable that no TV company, no matter how big and powerful, can show every fight, but when no terrestrial TV channels pick up the fights who else have the fans to rely on but the cable operators?

Most of the time, SKY and Setanta provide the fans with good coverage of top fights, both on the domestic and world scene. Yet when they either fail to get, or have no plans to get hold of a big fight, there is almost always no reason given as to why not. This is what angers many fans, I believe - the deafening silence that accompanies the hole in the respective channel's coverage. Surely both SKY and Setanta have to realise the fans will have been hoping they would show one or both of tonight's fights? Is it that they could not stretch their budget to secure these bouts, or what? Fight fans don't like being left in the dark, is all I'm saying.

Oh, well, as Steve Bunce over at Setanta says, rant over! It's a shame we UK lovers of boxing will get nothing tonight, but at least, at very least, one or both bouts will likely turn up on You-Tube in a few day's time. Small consolation that may be, but in today's sporting world, where more (channels) apparently means less, this is all we have.

Enjoy the fights, US boxing fans!

Article posted on 20.03.2009

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