BARRY McGUIGAN hopes Carl Frampton and George Groves can work as catalysts to bring more boxing onto terrestrial television in the UK.
McGuigan drew a record 20 million viewers to BBC 1 to watch him win the WBA world featherweight title from Eusebio Pedroza in 1985.
The BBC no longer broadcast professional boxing and the sport has largely moved onto subscription and paid-for platforms, however Groves will make his terrestrial debut against Eduard Gutknecht on November 18.
“It’s remarkable that he has never been on terrestrial TV in his entire career, but that’s the story of the times we’re in and the lack of interest from TV,” McGuigan told Boxing News.
“So I’m really applauding Channel 5 and I’m thrilled they’re getting behind this and giving us a platform.
“Our USP [unique selling point] has been bringing guys back to the wider public, and you can’t get much bigger than George, one of the unluckiest and greatest fighters to never win a world title – so far.
“But I’m confident, with the work he and Shane have been doing and the way he’s been performing, particularly against [Martin] Murray, he’s going to win a world title. There’s no doubt. He’s so good to watch, I’d drive 120 miles just to watch him. He’s getting so much better, he loves the game and he wants to prove how capable he is.”
Groves helped draw the biggest post-war fight attendance in the UK when he fought Carl Froch in a rematch at Wembley Stadium in 2014, though was stopped in the eighth.
However the Hammersmith fighter is still a huge name in British boxing and his fight with Gutknecht is part of a plan to maneuver him into another world title shot.
Channel 5 previously had a broadcast deal with promoter Mick Hennessy, though when that contract expired they teamed up with McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions. Though Groves operates under the Sauerland promotional banner, he is trained by Barry’s son Shane.
“Channel 5 have just been bought out by Viacom, who are a massive American company, I hope they’re in love with the game,” McGuigan continued.
“There have to be a combination of elements to make it work but we very much hope next year is going to be a bumper year for Channel 5. We want to bring more names across and more guys who can electrify the business.
“I really hope this [fight] is at least half a dozen rounds of blistering action because I want to give Channel 5 what they want and I think it’ll give them incentive to keep investing in boxing.”
Next Friday (October 21) Josh Taylor – also trained by Shane McGuigan – will contest the vacant Commonwealth super-lightweight title against Dave Ryan live on Channel 5. It is just the Scotsman’s seventh fight, and though he holds an exemplary amateur career he is not yet a star name, but Channel 5 – in an encouraging move – are backing him.
The only other terrestrial channel to have recently dabbled in boxing is ITV, who aired a few of Frampton’s recent outings. Though Carl has since boxed on subscription channel BoxNation and pay-per-view platform Sky Sports Box Office, McGuigan hopes to bring the wildly popular – and supremely talented – two-weight world champion back to free TV.
He said: “Well he’s already been on several times but I want to get him back in big fights and there’s every chance that could happen, without a doubt.”