ON the final weekend of major boxing in 2021, it was DAZN who bossed the airways with three different shows across three separate locations.
For UK fight fans, the centrepiece was Joseph Parker’s impressive win over Derek Chisora in Manchester. Overall, it was a decent card and the main event more than delivered.
Initially, it was Chris Lloyd and Darren Barker on commentary duties before Lloyd was replaced by Mike Costello for the latter stages of the show. They’ve developed into a great team and all bring something different to the broadcast.
A particular highlight was Lloyd describing Alen Babić’s tussle with David Spilmont as a “white collar Hagler-Hearns.” Barker has an excellent eye for detail during fights and can succinctly outline what each boxer is doing at any given moment.
It’s also refreshing to see his passion for the sport boil over at times, particularly when he shouts “oh!” whenever big shots are landed. Some may see it as a little unprofessional, but I personally love it.
Prospects Fabio Wardley and Joshua Buatsi also sat in on comms at various points in the broadcast, and Wardley in particular was incredibly well-spoken and astute in his analysis of the action.
Commentary can be tough with three people, and at times Wardley and Buatsi were slightly underused and went for stretches without saying much, but when they did contribute it was always of value. Another issue with the broadcast was an apparent confusion during the main event over what audio there would be in between rounds. Often, the commentators were talking while microphones were also picking up the instructions in both corners, which led to some audio overlap.
This wasn’t a major issue and, for the most part, we were still able to catch most of what was said. This was a particular treat for the main event, with Andy Lee cornering Parker and Dave Coldwell doing so for Chisora.
Both are excellent coaches and it’s always fascinating to hear their comments in between rounds. Lee in particular had some spine-tingling moments, including giving some sound technical advice but also commenting “this is the dark place” to Parker about two-thirds of the way through the bout.
The commentators perhaps could have also commented more on the ridiculous scorecards that were turned in for the main event, though they were also focused more on Parker’s excellent display and Chisora’s otherworldly resilience.
Later that same night DAZN aired Gilberto Ramírez’ win over Yunieski Gonzalez, but it was their show in Uzbekistan the night before that produced more drama.
Officially, Israil Madrimov stopped Michel Soro in the dying seconds of the ninth round, but in reality he landed several blows after the bell and referee Salvador Salva stepped in far too late.
Admittedly, the bell was hard to hear, however Alex Arthur for DAZN immediately made it clear that Madrimov had been allowed to land a barrage of blows long after the bell had sounded.
Both Arthur and Nick Halling rightfully lamented the lax officiating and then had the tough job of filling time while those at ringside deliberated over what should be done. Halling hit the nail on the head when he said “whenever it’s anyone other than the [athletes] sorting it out, something has gone wrong.”
Halling and Arthur were fair in their assessment; they praised Madrimov for turning things around in the fight and hurting Soro – before the bell had rung – but they also made it clear Soro had been hard done by and a rematch would be the best solution.
Probellum had another show on free-to-air television after last weekend’s show in Dubai. Ali Drew, who has featured on various different platforms now, is a great interviewer of fighters.
Sky Sports also aired a major show, with Artur Beterbiev pummeling Marcus Browne into submission in the main event.
BT Sport deserve praise for a card they ended up not showing. They were originally scheduled to host Jake Paul’s fight with Tommy Fury on pay-per-view, but once Fury had to withdraw through injury the broadcaster passed on the replacement fight; a rematch between Paul and former UFC fighter Tyron Woodley.
It was the right decision. Paul-Fury was an interesting fight between two novices who happen to have huge followings. Paul-Woodley II carried no such fascination. Fite TV picked up the rights for the show, offering it at a ludicrous price tag of £19.99. It was the international feed of the SHOWTIME broadcast, complete with commentators gushing over Paul’s knockout victory.
Speaking to Gareth A Davies and Spencer Oliver on talkSPORT, promoter Bob Arum shed some light on Tyson Fury’s next steps. Many expect the ‘Gypsy King’ to fight mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte next, though there have been issues raised during negotiations for that fight.
Arum suggested that if those talks do break down, they’ll take Fury in another direction, perhaps against Andy Ruiz or even Parker. The latter would be a surprising choice as he and Fury are good friends and there is a lot of cross-pollination between their respective training teams.
Arum’s comments hint at the possibility of Fury dropping the WBC belt that Whyte is mandatory for and instead focusing on the ‘lineal’ title he inarguably owns. That would be an exciting decision, though it would also be a shame if Fury doesn’t face Whyte.
Arum also doubled down on the fact that Fury plans to fight again before the end of March and that it could be at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. He is overdue a homecoming in the UK, after all.