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Wasserman ink a long-term deal with Channel 5, but Chris Eubank Jr stays on Sky Sports

Kalle Sauerland on Wasserman
Kalle Sauerland speaks to John Dennen about his multi-fight deal with Channel 5, and what next for Chris Eubank Jr

WASSERMAN Boxing have agreed a long-term, multi-fight deal to be the exclusive provider of boxing content for terrestrial TV broadcaster Channel 5.

Promoter Kalle Sauerland has a vision for how Wasserman will approach these broadcasts. “I think the match-making’s been very good, there’s been some big names on Channel 5 but it’s the consistency that we would like to bring to it,” he told Boxing News. “Our challenge will be to keep the quiz show/movie/documentary/whatever they’re showing before the boxing [audience] and fight for each one of those viewers to stay on and watch our beautiful sport. How we do that, we’ll see on the numbers. We have few things up our sleeve, using that Wasserman world.”

“We’re going to have to think a little bit outside the box,” he added. “An exciting challenge in winning those fans over and making them boxing fans.”

Wasserman’s run on Channel 5 is likely to kick off in May. The broadcast will screen the main event and a co-feature. Sauerland’s unwritten rule is to try to ensure a minimum of at least seven rounds of live action on the broadcast. “You need a certain amount of rounds for it to be interesting,” Kalle said. “There are those first round knockouts, spectacular ones sometimes in evenly match fights, you have to guard against that with a  strong co-feature.”

Sauerland has experience of successful free to air boxing broadcasting in Europe. “We had 78% of the Danish population above the age of 16 watching [Mikkel] Kessler fights,” he pointed out. “[At] 22 million, we still hold the viewing figure record in Germany. So if we can get 10% of the 22 million, I will be doing cartwheels.”

He’s learned lessons from that experience. “Keep the names on it as consistent as possible. Sometimes you might not get the best viewing figures with a boxer on one show but you stick with them and you build. That’s one thing we’ve learned,” he said. “You’ve got to hook them with something in the first two or three minutes of the broadcast, so high spec documentaries, those are the things people want to see to keep them on air.

“You’ve got to give them a feeling of the characters around it. That’s what boxing does so beautifully. It is all about the characters as well as the sport.

“The athletes’ personalities are important.”

There are a number of Wasserman fighters who can be expected to appear on Channel 5. “Josh Kelly and Nathan Gorman, who featured on Sky in the past, you’ve got Harlem Eubank, Linus Udofia, who’s got that fantastic British title fight with Denzel Bentley now. Another layer you’re looking at the heavyweight prospects, Matty Harris, Hosea Stewart, then you’re looking at Brad Pauls, Razor Ali, fantastic story line there, Chloe Watson training with Ricky Hatton. There’s all different layers to the UK stable and that stable believe me will grow in the next days, weeks and months,” Sauerland said.

Wasserman are in a position where they can work with different broadcasters and promoters. Their heavyweight Filip Hrgovic is on the cusp, finally, of getting his eliminator for the IBF belt with Zhang Zhilei signed. That’s likely to go to DAZN. The April 2 Sky Sports show in Newcastle will be a co-promotion with Boxxer. Chris Eubank Jnr, whom Wasserman promote, will have his next fight on Sky Sports Box Office.

“[Gennady] Golovkin confirmed with [Ryota] Murata, takes two options off the table [for Eubank Jnr]. We’re going to start talking to [Kell] Brook next week. I’ve got Eddie [Hearn] apparently coming back on Conor Benn, which I don’t think is going to happen now. If they want to do it, we do it, but I can’t see it happening. Billy Joe [Saunders], he’s nowhere near ready for it as the next fight so that ain’t going to happen next,” Kalle said. “Junior did pick up that hand injury. He’s recovering. Just takes a few weeks off and gets back in the swing of things, we’re looking for the summer so it’s okay.”

“We’re not preaching but we do it, in terms of working with other promoters,” Sauerland concludes. “That’s the route.

“You have to do it.”

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