UKTV has landed the exclusive UK rights for former boxing world champion David Haye’s long-awaited comeback fight. The match will be shown on UKTV’s flagship free-to-air entertainment channel, Dave, live from the O2 on Saturday January 16 at 9pm.
David Haye, the former world champion in two different weight categories, is returning to professional boxing with a heavyweight bout against Australia’s Mark De Mori. Haye’s comeback fight will be his first since defeating Dereck Chisora at Upton Park over three years ago and sees Haye take on a top 10 WBA ranked heavyweight in De Mori, who boasts a record of 30 wins (26 KOs), and only one defeat, since turning pro in 2004. De Mori is undefeated since September 2004 and most recently claimed a first round knock-out of Germany’s Marcel Zeller in October.
In addition to the live match, Dave is also showing a special half-hour preview show Haye v De Mori: The Countdown, the night before, on Friday January 15 at 8pm featuring the build up to the fight, the story of the preparation and the reason why David wants to stage a comeback.
Live Boxing: David Haye v Mark De Mori (TBC) will be shown live from the O2 and has been ordered by UKTV director of commissioning Richard Watsham and Dave general manager Steve North. The two-hour special (9pm – 11pm) will include highlights from the day’s boxing at the O2, live studio discussions plus all the action from the ringside.
Richard Watsham said, “We are quickly establishing UKTV as a network able to handle attention grabbing live events, from the Python’s last ever performance – Monty Python Live (Mostly) for Gold through Really’s Halloween spectacular Most Haunted Live to Dave’s ratings success, the Red Bull Soapbox Race. Our ambition continues to grow in terms of the variety and quality of our programming and appointment to view TV remains at the top of our wish list.”
Steve North added, “We are increasingly stretching our offering to Dave viewers, bringing them programmes which tap into the news agenda, such as last year’s election special The Pub Landlord vs Nigel Farage. I’m thrilled to be giving our viewers a ringside seat to this hotly-anticipated boxing match and, with Dave’s own spin on the event, helping to show the sport in a brand new light.”
The Hayemaker, who is widely recognised as one of the best British boxers of all time, was the first British boxer to become a unified cruiserweight champion in 2008, winning three out of the four major world titles. Haye then moved up to heavyweight and won the WBA title in 2009 after defeating Russian giant Nikolai Valuev and in the process became only the second boxer in history to have unified the cruiserweight titles and won a heavyweight world championship.
Commenting on his return, Haye said: “I’m so happy to be stepping back into the ring with my hometown crowd behind me. It’s been a long time out, with many ups and downs, but ‘The Hayemaker’ is finally back, and ready to do what I do best. I’m a young 35, in boxing terms, and still have my explosive speed and punching power. I’m looking forward to putting on a great show for the fans on ‘Haye Day’ at The O2 on January 16 and I’m delighted that my first fight in three and a half years is going to be available free to air on Dave giving as many people as possible the chance to watch my comeback. I was determined to make this comeback fight free to everybody and fans should sit back and get ready for another fun-fuelled ride as I look to regain the heavyweight championship of the world.”
‘Haye Day’ will be promoted by David’s own promotional company Hayemaker Boxing Ltd, together with entertainment, media and marketing organisation, Salter Brothers Entertainment, Goodwin Productions and support from The O2. Live Boxing: David Haye v Mark De Mori is produced by David Green at Giant Film & TV and Salter Brothers Entertainment for UKTV and is executive produced by UKTV’s Helen Nightingale.
Securing the rights to the fight is a strong start to 2016 for Dave, UKTV’s flagship free-to-air entertainment channel, which last year retained its place as the number one non-PSB channel in the UK and grew for the fourth consecutive year. Brand new comedy gameshow Taskmaster, fronted by comedians Greg Davies and Alex Horne, proved a hit, attracting 539k viewers to its highest rating episode. The show’s mix of banter and outlandish tasks quickly propelled it to cult status and two further series are in the works for later this year. Fast-paced auction show Storage Hunters UK, also performed well with 688k viewers (728k individuals) and a further 849k (904k individuals) viewers for the Christmas Celebrity Special, placing it narrowly ahead of Dave Gorman Modern Life is Goodish (739k viewers, 752k individuals). Another original show, Red Bull Soap Box Live drew in 640k viewers (724k individuals). Emmy award-nominated The Last Man on Earth was the highest rating acquisition on Dave, with its best rating episode attracting 596k adults.