FOR Sky Sports Boxing there is life after Matchroom. Their long-term, exclusive partnership with the UK promoter will end after the Lewis Ritson show on Saturday in Newcastle. But the broadcaster will remain a significant player in boxing. They have announced a deal with US promotional powerhouse Top Rank for their slate of international cards, excluding Tyson Fury but including Shakur Stevenson, Naoya Inoue and Vasiliy Lomachenko in the coming weeks.
That should bring in a minimum of 18 international shows a year. Sky have also announced a surprise link up with a new UK promoter, Boxxer’s Ben Shalom. John Wischhusen, the former head of boxing at Matchroom, will be part of that team. But this arrangement will not be exclusive. Boxxer will be expected to collaborate with other UK promoters. That should see at least 14 British shows televised a year. Both of these new deals are for four years.
“30 years and counting, 30 years and time to ramp it up again,” Adam Smith, head of boxing development at Sky, said of their long term commitment to the sport. “It’s changing times. It’s adapting. Eddie [Hearn, Matchroom promoter] has made a decision, a hard decision to leave a base, a platform like Sky that’s really made him, that’s helped him. He’s been phenomenal, Eddie, with boxing. But don’t think we haven’t done our bit as well. It’s been a great relationship over the years, he’s taken the DAZN angle, he’s gone, he’s got a whole new look over there… They’ve got their business and now we’ve got ours. We’re going again. We’ve never left boxing. We’ve been there year in year out. We’ve been loyal to the sport. We’ve got a big new concept.
“We believe that we’ve got the platform and we’ve got the arsenal to carry boxing into a new era.”
“Now I’m really excited. Top Rank are a huge powerhouse. They’ve been a fantastic operation for many years. What comes with them are pound for pound greats. Regular content from the States, an ESPN platform maybe for UK fighters to go over and utilise as well. Names like Josh Taylor, Lomachenko, Inoue, we’ve got so many coming thick fast already,” continued Smith, speaking exclusively to Boxing News. “The other part of it is a young fresh entrepreneurial promoter in Ben Shalom, who’s wanted to try a new vision, do something different. He’s put these tournament shows on. He’s got a lot of passion.
“I love the fusion of the big American powerhouse of many years and also the young, wanting to try something different fresh feel, fresh face and also the ability to work with other people. He wants to work with other promoters, he’ll need to work with other promoters and we need it. It’s for the good of Sky Boxing this, which is for the good of the customers and that’s the key. We’re open for business. We want to work with different people, whether it’s PBC whether it’s other managers and promoters.
“There are some brilliant people behind the scenes at Sky who don’t get enough credit for what we’ve done. But add that with a new sort of concept, the Boxxer team, Top Rank, new people at Sky that have come in as well that are looking to give us new ideas. Bring that all together. You’ve got the traditional, you’ve got the things that have really worked and the things that we feel need adapting and need changing.
“We’re very confident about that. We might not have that huge Matchroom stable. But I tell you we’re very, very excited that fighters and different managers and promoters are going to look at us and think there’s a platform here. It’s a platform that’s worked for many, many years in building stars, building stories, building narrative. So come on. Come and join us.”