Boxing

Earl vs Bennett: Only One Can be Champion!

27.04.05 - There's a violent storm brewing in Britain, taking the form of an explosive all-action firefight that will take place in the hard backstreets of South London on Thursday night, May 12th. That's when British Champion Graham Earl and Commonwealth Champion Kevin Bennett will engage in the highly anticipated showdown that promises to shake up the hottest weight class in the sport today, the lightweights.. Maloney Promotions in association with www.fightnight.com and Setanta Sports are proud to present "Lightweight Bragging Rights - Only One Can be Champion!"

Historically, pay per view boxing events have tended to originate in America and were shown in Britain during the inconvenient early morning hours, all the while packing an alarming price tag. With this bold venture, Maloney Promotions has shattered those limitations. "We're presenting a British and Commonwealth Championship fight during prime time viewing hours in Britain and Ireland through Setanta Sports on the Sky platform," outlined James Russell, a spokesman for Maloney Promotions, "and through www.fightnight.com, we're webcasting the same video and commentary via Broadband on a worldwide basis. This has never been done previously and makes a British and Commonwealth title fight available to more fans than ever before."

And what a fight it's shaping up to be with both participants eager to stamp authorization on their claims of being the premier lightweight in Britain today. For British Champion Graham Earl it's a difficult dual front war that he'll have to wage. Not only will the twenty six year old from the industrial city of Luton on the northern fringes of London have to face down a very gritty Kevin Bennett; he must also exorcise the demons of a shocking non-title bout loss in his most recent action at the hands of undefeated Scottish phenom Ricky Burns. "This is going to be a tough fight but I think this is exactly what we need over here in Britain at the moment," said Earl. "A lot of promoters tend to hand pick their fighter's opponents, guys they can just walk through and have out of the ring in a few rounds. This on the other hand is a genuine fifty - fifty fight, one the public wants to see and this is the kind of fight that I get up for."

"Everyone knows that I wasn't myself during my last fight. My heart hasn't been in boxing for about the last year and a half or two years and I was getting through beating good fighters half-heartedly. Against Ricky Burns I got to the point where there was just nothing left mentally. Physically I was fine but mentally there was nothing there. When I'm in there for eight or ten rounders against the kind of opponents I'm supposed to take out in a couple rounds, I can't get up for those fights. I've already done my apprenticeship; my four rounders, my six rounders, my eight rounders and I'm a championship fighter. I fight for titles and I defend titles. I know some fighters can get up for those kind of fights but when your heart isn't in it, you can't get up for them."

"I've taken a step back now and gotten the fire back in my belly whereas before I had lost that. I've got the hunger back, the will to succeed. We'll see it on the night, without a doubt and I can guarantee that. I'm glad TV is going to be involved in this fight because it's definitely one that deserves to be broadcast and the public was upset when it was thought that it wasn't going to be televised. Both Kevin and myself have put everything, blood, tears and sweat into our careers, really, and it's nice to get something back like headlining a pay per view card. I am expecting a very tough fight and I think it could equal or even surpass the excitement of the fights I had with Steve Murray. I think we'll actually see the best Graham Earl performance on the night. "

Graham Earl's opponent Kevin "Bulldog" Bennett hails from Hartlepool in the Northeast of England and brings guts, determination and an iron will long associated with fighters from that region of Britain. The former soldier is well aware of the rarified heights he may be on the verge of entering, but such lofty ambitions suit the battle hardened Bennett. "I think it's the biggest fight in my career up to now and it's definitely the big stepping stone into European level," he said. "I see this as sort of an eliminator if you like for a European title. First and foremost everyone want to be 'king of the castle' of one's own country and that's what this fight will mean to me. Graham Earl is a very good fighter who has proved his pedigree, but there's been a lot made of the fact that he got beat his last time out. I was actually at the fight and granted he didn't look impressive in that one but one bad night at the office in twenty-three fights isn't bad, you know? Everyone is entitled to an off night and I think that's what it was for him."

"I don't think Earl and I are going to baffle each other with science in the ring because neither one of us fights like that. We're both 'in your face' type of fighters and in terms of strategy I'm going to be there to hit as I try to hit him and I think you can say that about Graham Earl as well. It may sound stupid but I think it's just going to be me in his face and him in mine.

Neither of us is known for moving about so I don't think there's going to be surprises from either of us. There'll be some science behind it but when push comes to shove, that's what it'll be, a survival of the fittest type of thing."

"If everything goes right for me in this one, I plan on looking into the European title. Stefano Zoff is the champion at the minute and he's thirty-nine years of age now. While I appreciate what he does and I respect what he's done, you've got to ask yourself the question of how much longer can he do that? Being the younger man, I would fancy my chances of taking him and that's definitely what I'd be looking toward. It just may be that the European title will be becoming vacant. Nothing has been set in stone but there's plenty of rumors flying around that Stefano Zoff is going to be fighting for the IBF title and to do that he'd have to vacate the European. If it does become vacant, I'd like to be one of the guys who fight for that. But obviously I'm 100% committed to the Graham Earl fight at the minute and not looking past that."

With the recent withdrawal of terrestrial broadcast coverage of boxing in Britain, Sky TV, who have faithfully been flying the flag for the sport since the early 1990's, are the only remaining television providers in the UK for the sweet science. While Sky remains committed to boxing, no one organization can air everything worthy of being televised and Maloney Promotions have taken the bold step to bring the fans a British and Commonwealth title fight, brokering a partnership with the Irish television company Setanta Sports, webcasters www.fightnight.com and an association of affiliated websites across the globe.

"We saw that this fight between Graham Earl and Kevin Bennett was not going to be televised and we stepped in," said a joint spokesman for the media outlets. "Clearly, it's a contest that deserves to be broadcasted and we saw the fans felt that way as well, so we stepped up to the plate and did something about it. We were pleased to work out the television and webcasting partnership so that we could present what everyone agrees will be a very good fight. Many boxing fans believe that the Internet will be the way forward and what we and Maloney Promotions are doing is testing the waters with this initiative."

"We do feel that these sorts of fights should be shown on non pay per view television but unfortunately we're not in charge of TV scheduling or what TV companies buy. Market forces have changed the way athletics are covered in this country and boxing has been caught up in those changes just like every other sport. We've studied the new order of things and we learned from talking to promoters in America that a number of them are doing pay per views because that's the only way they can keep boxing alive over there. If that is the only way that boxing can be kept alive in this country, we do believe that as long as the price is right and the fans aren't bled dry, that it will work."

"For the televised broadcast of 'Lightweight Bragging Rights' through Setanta Sports, the asking price is 8.99, and that is for a three hour boxing show which costs only a fraction of the fee one would pay for a single ringside ticket. Furthermore, our broadcast may even be better than a ringside seat because we're using a very high-end five-camera system to provide unparalleled coverage. We needs 4,000 buys to break even on the televised portion and I have to think that there must be at least 4,000 boxing fans out there that would be willing to tune in and watch this superb fight card."

"Also, let's not forget that we're talking 8.99 for as many people who care to watch the broadcast with the purchaser. By going ahead with the pay per view, if one has three friends to watch the broadcast, it works out to a little over two pounds a head. You can't even go to the cinema for two pounds a head these days! We're also providing an avenue for viewers over the Internet at just 4.99 (equivalent of $10 US) for the exact same broadcast that one would receive on the pay per view televised broadcast. If the fight card is watched on the webcast, the quality will be as good as television as long as you've got a one megabyte broadband connection. That breaks down to just over one pound a person if four people gather to watch it, plus it's available worldwide, the first time that's ever happened with a British and Commonwealth Championship fight. Since the production is being handled by the televised portion of the project, we only need 800 to 850 buys to break even on the webcast."

"We don't think this pay per view is overpriced or exorbitant at all, rather far from it. If we want to keep British fights going, it's the way forward. It's the viewer's choice, if they don't want to support boxing and they don't want to see it on TV, then they have the right not to tune in. But what we're offering is an alternative and we believe that if there aren't 4,000 fans who want to watch a combined British and Commonwealth title fight from the comforts of their own homes then boxing is in a bad way in this country."

"We're not looking to break records on viewer figures or anything like that, we're just trying to bring a British and Commonwealth title fight to the people. If 4,000 don't tune in and the two broadcast companies lose money then there's going to be less and less fights on TV. If enough tune in, which we believe is what will happen, then fans will have an alternative manner in which to view boxing. If this pay per view is successful, at least promoters will know there's an alternative out there."

In addition to the main event of Graham Earl vs. Kevin Bennett, the "Lightweight Bragging Rights" undercard is packed with the kind of thrilling fifty-fifty contests fans have come to expect from Maloney Promotions, including; lightweight Craig Watson making his pro debut hot on the heels of the controversial "long count" canvassing of Olympic Silver Medallist Amir Khan, the longest ten seconds seen since Jack Dempsey dropped Gene Tunney eight decades ago; the British Masters Welterweight title fight between Nathan Ward and James Paisley; the return of "Dynamite" Dean Phillips, the dangerous Welshman who is in line to meet the winner of Earl - Bennett; sensational Lewisham cruiserweight Junior MacDonald and the very popular unbeaten light middle Gary Woolcombe who continues his determined march to certain championship opportunity.

For the best in world boxing, it's "Lightweight Bragging Rights" the much-anticipated showdown between British Champion Graham Earl and Commonwealth Champion Kevin Bennett on Thursday, May 12th. Log onto www.fightnight.com, www.setanta.com or your favorite boxing website to find out how you can see this worldwide pay per view event on televisions in the UK and Ireland or on computer screens across the globe!

Article posted on 27.04.2005



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