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Media review: The Amir Khan vs Kell Brook undercard was alarmingly one-sided

Amir Khan vs Kell Brook undercard
Nigel Roddis/Getty Images
The poor Amir Khan vs Kell Brook undercard takes an age to get through, writes George Gigney

IT was far from perfect, but in the end the Sky Sports Box Office broadcast of Khan-Brook was plenty of fun. Well, the main event was, at least. Even on paper the Amir Khan vs Kell Brook undercard was thin, and in reality ended up being alarmingly one-sided.

We had Viddal Riley and the Azim brothers – Adam and Hassan – all in learning fights with journeymen. There’s not much wrong with that, in the grand scheme of things, but these fights made up a significant chunk of the broadcast.

Hassan Azim’s fairly drab four-rounder with MJ Hall, a veteran journeyman with a 2-74-2 record, took place just after 9pm. That is a prime time slot and while both of the Azim brothers are exciting talents, this was not pay-per-view worthy.

Then, of course, there was the fiasco with Frazer Clarke’s debut. His opponent, Jake Darnell, was literally pulled out from a crowd during fight week. It was embarrassing and in all honesty the fight itself shouldn’t have even taken place.

So, it was uncomfortable to then see it so high up the bill – just before Natasha Jonas in chief support. Clarke was a brilliant amateur and deserves the spotlight as a pro but he and everyone who paid to watch this card deserved better than this.

Sky, at least, didn’t try to cover up the circumstances of how the bout was made but they did try to spin it in a positive way, describing it as “extraordinary” and championing the opportunity for Darnell.

Once he was mercifully stopped inside a round, the commentary team admitted that this was a man out of his depth, which was an understatement in the extreme.

Despite the lack of decent matchups on the undercard, it took an age to get through. Most of the fights ended early, but instead of getting the main event underway at a normal time Sky had to fill gaps with punditry, interviews and video features.

There was also the last-minute dispute over Kell Brook’s gloves and, thankfully, instead of hiding this from viewers – as some American broadcasters have done in the past – Sky sent the brilliant Andy Scott to investigate.

What we received in the main event was no technical masterclass, nor was it massively competitive, but it was still enthralling. The Sky commentary was right to point out how this fight was more about who had the most left, more than anything else, though they did perhaps get a little caught up in the drama at times.

What was undoubtedly good to see was the respect Khan and Brook shared after the fight. Then, after suffering a punishing loss that perhaps might mark the end of his fighting career, Khan was as gracious as ever with the media.

In his dressing room, he sat down with Andy Scott and paid his dues to Brook. He offered no excuses, no caveats, and he was as honest as ever. If he does choose to walk away, he has been an enormous credit to British boxing.

The most bizarre aspect of the Sky broadcast was the inclusion of Chris Eubank Jnr. At face value, it makes sense; he’s coming off a decent win over Liam Williams and is a big name. However when he was brought on camera, even he didn’t quite know what was going on.

Then, out of nowhere, he began calling Brook out. Even before the main event he spoke about his “history” with Brook and then, after Brook prevailed, Eubank started speaking about fighting Brook next.

It’s not hard to figure out why – both are aligned with Sky and the fight would undoubtedly sell. Eubank would also have considerable advantages, including size and freshness. It was a cynical move from Eubank who should be pursuing the leading figures in his own weight division.

It really would not be surprising if that fight gets made next, though.

He wasn’t the only son of a British boxing legend who called Brook out. Conor Benn, who was a part of the excellent talkSPORT radio coverage of the show, also threw his hat in the ring to fight Kell.

In fairness, Benn has mentioned fighting either Khan or Brook before and at least they are of a similar size. Brook would certainly pose a greater challenge than Chris van Heerden, who Benn is slated to be fighting next.

The hope now is that Sky fully shifts the focus and attention from Khan-Brook onto Josh Taylor’s clash with Jack Catterall this weekend. There were a few mentions of it during this broadcast, including a teaser for ‘The Gloves are Off’, but it’s a fight that deserves a significant push.

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DAZN announced that Len Blavatnik – the billionaire who has provided most of the streaming service’s financial backing to date – has injected a further $4.3bn into the company. Besides being a mind-boggling amount of money, it is also enough to clear all of the debts DAZN was operating under.

DAZN’s aggressive acquisition of broadcast rights for a variety of sports had left the platform with a lot of red in its ledger. It’s worth noting that Netflix – the streaming giant DAZN is following in the footsteps of – also ran at a loss as a business in its infancy.

Now that DAZN’s finances are rebalanced, it will be interesting to see how they continue within boxing. Some of the purses they were handing out to fighters in the past were not sustainable.

The boxing landscape is better with DAZN in it and the competition they provide to other broadcasters has helped to raise standards across the board. While their competitors won’t be too pleased to hear of this recent recapitalisation, it’s likely to be good news for fans.

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