Josh Warrington is looking increasingly impressive. Do you anticipate matching him with Lee Selby in the near future?
That’s a big fight but Selby’s got a massive fight on Saturday and if he can win that then he’s going to fight [Evgeny] Gradovich.
Then, if he wins that, match him and Warrington in Elland Road?
Without a doubt. That sells out Elland Road in a heartbeat. We did 6,000 on Saturday and he’s not even getting started. It’s serious. I’ve never seen an atmosphere like it. I didn’t really go to any Ricky Hatton fights and I know they were off the charts but this has got the same feeling. He’s only 23. He’s a good fighter and all.
So what’s next for Carl Froch?
I’m going to Monaco with him tomorrow [Wednesday]. I think he will fight again but he wants to be motivated. He thinks he’s got one, maybe two fights left, so he wants to make the most of it.
He’s fought when the juices not flowing and it didn’t work.
Exactly. Exactly. I think that’s what he’s worried about.
Are you doing anything about the judges in the Paul Smith fight?
Yes. There’s an appeal in at the moment. The problem is, I had him losing the fight by a round or two. So the decision might be right but the cards were so bad… So do you rule, ‘Sorry, but we thought he [Abraham] won the fight but the cards were bad so we discipline the judges’ or do you just scrap it altogether and say ‘We’ll make him mandatory’. Because he was a voluntary it’s hard to instil an immediate rematch. What you could do is make him a mandatory and then give him [Abraham] a mandatory.
That one judge should be punished though…
Oh my God. Just being honest I thought Abraham just got it on the night, although when I watched it back I had a draw, but to give him [Smith] one round, that’s brutal.
Cleverly and Bellew. You’ve talked about growing the game. Is this pay-per-view show growing the game?
In an ideal world you’d like the fight to be seen by as many people as possible. We don’t live in an ideal world. To put this fight on, and the card that will be produced on November 22nd, it’s the only way possible to make that happen. We had the option to run the fight with what have been a very thin, thin, thin card to make it happen. This way, I feel fans are getting a huge night, British boxing is getting a huge night and fighters are able to go out, have major fights and progress their careers in the right way.
What makes it pay-per-view?
This is the situation and this is where people are getting confused. It’s not that Bellew-Cleverly is necessarily a pay-per-view fight. In my opinion, this is a pay-per-view night of boxing. There will be six hours of championship boxing, some of the best fighters in Britain, in big fights – and by the way we’ve still got another three fights to announce, that people will be quite pleased with – so it’s just a huge night for British boxing. We have done one pay-per-view card this year, in Carl Froch-George Groves, and this will be number two. The tickets sold out in less than 48 hours, 10,000 tickets in 48 hours. This is a massive night.
Could you not have run it as a loss-leader with an eye on making the cast of this bill even bigger next year?
There’s well over a million pounds worth of purses being paid on the night. The only argument anyone’s got is I could have just done Bellew-Cleverly and a weak card. I wanted to do a major night for British boxing and without trying to sound brutal, if you do not think this card delivers value for money, you will not buy it. I have not promoted a pay-per-view show that has not delivered value for money so far. I am certain this card will. As always, when you make a decision to purchase anything in life, you have to weigh-up whether you’re getting value for money. If you don’t think you will, I’m guessing you won’t buy it. If you think you will, I’m guessing you’ll buy it. If you’re not sure, you’ll probably buy it and if you don’t get value for money then I have to come in for the criticism that comes with it.
What is the response you’ve had via social media and other outlets?
The hardcore [fans] response has not been good. It’s certainly become softer as either a fight or fighter has been added or time has just gone on. It started badly, then it was, ‘I’m not happy, but I’m still gonna buy it – but I’m not happy’, and then you’ve got the casuals – and by the way, the price hasn’t been set yet, and I don’t set the price – so I can’t tell you whether it’s £9.95, £12.95 or say it’s £14.95, a lot of the casuals think, ‘F*** me, it’s only the price of a pizza.’ But people love to moan and at the moment, because we have control of a lot of boxing, people are angry. When I had no control of boxing and was giving it a go, I couldn’t get enough support. That’s just what happens. Ultimately, we came in for a bit of criticism for 24 hours, and like anything it calms down, and as we build the card, I believe people will be more and more pleased and by the time the 22nd comes around I believe it will do good numbers.
Is David Price going to be on the bill?
Quite possibly. It all depends on his hand. But I want to put more focus on quality fights. I don’t just want David Price in a 10-rounder against a Latvian. I don’t think that adds anything. Because that’s what we’re going to get stick for. It’s like Ricky Burns or Brian Rose last Saturday night. So they’re in fights where they’ve had a horrendous run. Rose fought Maciel, got battered, and then fought Andrade and got battered and you give him half a gimme and everyone says ‘This is a disgrace!’ Same with Burns. He’s fought Mitchell, Gonzalez, Beltran, Crawford, Zlaticanan… and he fought a geezer who’s 17-1 and who actually gave him half a decent fight and people are saying, ‘Oh, what’s he gonna learn from that.’ Give him a rest.
When the Ryan-Nurse cracker was on, the commentators said Burns and Callum Smith were on next, before Warrington. That was prime time and Smith was ticking over and Burns was supposed to be in an easier fight back.
The reason I did that, Tris, was I didn’t want to put Rose, Burns, Callum Smith, in three one-sided fights so what I wanted to do was get Rose out of the way, then do a 50-50 – I knew Ryan would give Nurse a great fight – and then stick Callum and Burns on, and then go with Warrington. The problem we have at the moment is we’ve got too many fighters, but we’ve got too many dates. I think next year you will see us doubling up dates and making bigger shows because I don’t want to spread ourselves too thin. I’ve had a run, September 13, September 20, the 27th, the 4th, the 11th and then the 25th. It’s a long run of fights and it’s taxing. There are plenty of grey hairs; I’m losing a bit, everything. Listen, it’s good fun because things are going well but you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. Maybe it makes sense to double up one of those shows and do a bit of a bumper show.
We’ve heard there’s a chance Froch might fight DeGale on January 31 in the O2, any risks in a big fight in January not doing good business?
Froch sells out anywhere against anyone at the moment. You’d go on sale with that in November and it sells out in about an hour.
Going back to Liverpool, is this the kind of event you’d hoped to put on pay-per-view with Sky?
I think when we moved back into pay-per-view shows the way back in was going to be to put on a great fight. I believe now that boxing is in a completely different place than it was two years ago. I think it’s much more popular, particularly our position in the market has changed considerably, I think we have bigger names, better fighters and fighters with a much bigger profile than we did two years ago and because of the plans we’ve got for next year, I don’t believe this is going to set a model for the way pay-per-view will work in the future. I just think this is an opportunity to make a fantastic domestic fight, make a number of world title fights, and make big fights for other domestic fighters as well in one night. I think next year is more about Froch, it’s more about Brook-Khan, it’s more about Frampton-Quigg, for example. There’s three potential pay-per-views for next year. This is more about timing, there hasn’t been a pay-per-view show since May. It’s not a case of there hasn’t been a pay-per-view so let’s do one regardless. With what we’re going to build on the 22nd, we think it’s going to deliver value for money. Is this the way pay-per-view is going to go? Not really. It’s a case by case scenario. If Froch had boxed in December, or November, you wouldn’t have had this because you would have just had Froch. And what it would have been would be Brook [defending his world title, before he was stabbed] it was going to be Brook against X and Bellew against Cleverly in a double-header. I don’t think that would have had as many moans. No one likes paying, but that’s just life.
One of the arguments is people already pay a lot for Sky?
Yes, but it’s not a boxing channel is it? I appreciate everything that everyone is saying but ultimately like any product in any walk of life you will decide, just before you buy it, whether you should or not. And that decision is based upon whether you’re getting value or not. It’s sold 10,000 tickets in 48 hours, there is demand for this fight, there is demand for this night, and by the time the promotional tour has gone around and Sky have run their programmes, this is going to be a big night. And I’m very confident in it.
What would make it a success from a pay-per-view standpoint?
Forget Froch-Groves 2 numbers, that was a freak, in terms of numbers, we might never see that again. But I think realistically, with the fights that are on the card, and the quality that’s on the card, and the hype that particularly the main fight will get I don’t think it will be too dissimilar to a Froch-Kessler. Who knows, it could catch fire.