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Media Review: Matchroom’s return

Matchroom
Sky Sports and Matchroom do a fine job but its time to can the canned crowd noise, writes George Gigney as he casts his eyes over the boxing media

Broadcasts
Matchroom Boxing returned to action with a bang (literally, there were fireworks) this past weekend with a solid show in the grounds of their Essex headquarters. With a setup complete with a ring, canopy, pyrotechnics, waiting areas, ringwalk and more, the whole thing reportedly costs somewhere in the region of £5m, including the numerous Covid-19 tests that had to be administered to all those involved.

The weather held out, which went some way to creating that unique atmosphere which exists only around professional boxing taking place outside. On the broadcast, this was ruined somewhat by the canned audience noise played over the top of the action. It was distracting; the recorded buzz of a large crowd trying to disguise the fact these fights were taking place in what was essentially just a huge garden.

It would have been nice if Sky embraced the novelty of this event, as BT Sport have done with the various Queensbury Promotion shows that have taken place over the last few weeks, and allowed us viewers to listen in to the intimate warfare taking place. You’d be surprised how shocking the sound of landed punches can be when not drowned out by a noisy crowd.

I understand what Sky were going for – to maintain a buzz so viewers would keep watching – it just really didn’t feel right. It felt particularly out of place when Dalton Smith produced a stunning one-punch knockout on the undercard, or during the hellacious 12-round tussle between Ted Cheeseman and Sam Eggington, with the ‘crowd’ obviously not reacting to the action, because it doesn’t actually exist.

Ted Cheeseman Matchroom
Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

All that being said, overall it was an excellent production. There was a genuine sense of spectacle around the main event with fireworks and flashy light shows and, as mentioned, the action inside the ring lived up to the hype outside of it. It was obviously a huge undertaking to set this ‘Fight Camp’ up and both Matchroom and Sky should be commended for the final product. Promoter Eddie Hearn even said that ‘Fight Camp’ may turn into an annual event each summer.

BT continued their back-to-back run of Queensbury shows with a bill topped by Lyndon Arthur. What’s interesting about these broadcasts is that they’re actively trying to promote domestic rivalries, for example previously between Joe Joyce and Daniel Dubois, who will meet later this year. In this instance, Arthur’s performance was critiqued by fellow British light-heavyweight Anthony Yarde who was, he claimed, left unimpressed.

It makes sense; instead of having fighters turn up at ringside for a potential rival, which can end up being awkward and logistically challenging, simply get a camera in front of them while they watch the fights from the comfort of their own surroundings.

Websites

BoxingScene reported that Paulie Malignaggi has been axed from his co-commentator role on Showtime for comments his unwillingness to apologise for comments he made in an IFL interview back in April.

Malignaggi was discussing the issue of race in boxing, more specifically Devin Haney’s comments that “can’t no white boy beat me.” Paulie then went on to say: “I don’t believe there is racial oppression in 2020, in this century. I believe there has been, sure, but I don’t believe there is any racial oppression today, I believe it’s all made up and it’s exaggerated.”

The BoxingScene report made it clear that Showtime fired Malignaggi not for the comments themselves, but for the fact he refused to apologise for them when asked to do so.

That Malignaggi made these comments just weeks before the appalling death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers make them all the more damning. Paulie is a great analyst, but Showtime have absolutely made the right call here – the comments themselves are bad enough, but if Malignaggi cannot see their potential damage then he doesn’t deserve a slot on their broadcasts.

Thomas Hauser, writing for BoxingScene, revealed more about the background of Senesia Estrada’s seven-second blitzing of the disgustingly overmatched Miranda Adkins in late July.

In the piece, Hauser highlights yet more alarming shortcomings in the governance of boxing that are being exploited by promoters like John Carden, who represents Adkins. For example, Carden had previously staged a show in Missouri which was to feature a man with special needs who had previously competed in the Paralympics.

Clearly, more needs to be done to tighten the sanctioning and approval of bouts in America to ensure dangerous mismatches like Estrada-Adkins don’t happen again. Thankfully, it seems as though Adkins is physically healthy, but the incident should now serve as a warning of what can happen when opponents are properly vetted before being approved.

Vasyl Lomachenko’s mooted lightweight unification bout against Teofimo Lopez is at risk of falling apart, according to The Athletic. They’re reporting that the unbeaten Lopez is unhappy with the $1.2m ‘take it or leave it’ purse he’s being offered for the fight, and he could walk away from negotiations. Lomachenko has reportedly accepted a purse of $3.25m, slightly less than what he is contractually obliged to.

It goes without saying that it would be a huge shame should this fight fall through – it’s one of the most competitive prospective match-ups being considered for the near future.

Mike Tyson told TMZ Sports that he won’t make a penny from his September 12 exhibition against Roy Jones Jnr, which will air on pay-per-view in the US.

“I’m doing it with a lot more enthusiasm because I’m doing it for someone else. It’s going to be for various charities,” he said.

“I’m not getting anything. I just feel good doing this because I can.”

One suspects Tyson will be making some money somewhere from all this publicity, and rightly so, but if he is donating his purse to charities then that is a pretty incredible gesture and a sign of how much he has grown as a person.

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