Carl Frampton vs Josh Warrington : Merry Christmas boxing fans! It’s been a year of great fights and eventful shows, many of which you’ve had to pay big money to watch on television. What’s your reward this festive season as we approach the final shows of 2018? Two massive main events involving four of Britain’s best domestic fighters.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? A real Christmas treat to say thank you for all the late nights, bigger-than-usual Sky payments and loyalty to the greatest sport in the world. Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora rematching one of the greatest heavyweight fights in modern history? Amazing! And what about Josh Warrington and Carl Frampton putting it all on the line for title glory? Count us in! What a lovely thing to look forward to on the last Saturday night before Christmas.
Wait a second… Two big shows. On two separate sports channels. For free? Get real boxing fans! This isn’t about you, or even for you. This is no yuletide miracle, but instead another cash grab from promoters who have zero interest in you. Both Whyte and Chisora plus Warrington vs Frampton will cost the public £20 each to watch. This is after a year which has seen more boxing pay-per-view events in history, and your special honour is to have two in one night during the most financially difficult month of the year.
Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren have spent the last few years criticising each other for all manner of issues, but this is the most troubling of all. This is two men incapable of compromise disrupting not just fans who want to watch great fights, but their own fighters and staff as well. Purchasing one pay-per-view is often a difficult choice for fans to accept considering the already severe subscription fees for sports channels but having to choose between two events is disrespectful to the point of ignorance.
The fans are screwed, and so are the fighters. Having two supershows in the same country on the same night splits the TV audience and with the appeal of pay-per-view being additional revenue for the fighters based on purchases, splitting the proceeds between four boxers means less money for everybody overall. This is supposed to be prizefighting and if you’re not earning as much as you should be, then why risk the event overall?
Sky Sports have been trying to make a Chisora/Whyte rematch happen ever since their first battle in 2016, while BT Sport’s promotion of Warrington/Frampton has been awkward to watch as two uncharismatic, but talented guys have shared lame insults with all the elegance of a karaoke Mariah Carey Christmas cover. The actual fights should be pretty great, but are they worth £40 collectively to watch? Spread out over a couple of months? Absolutely? But it can’t be stressed enough, December and January are the tightest months for most of the British public, especially for the working classes who make up the majority of boxing fandom.
We know the promoters don’t care about the fans, that’s obvious given their behaviour but we shouldn’t punish for the fighters for the mess they have found themselves in. Dillian Whyte is one of Britain’s most inspiring fighters, he’s as real as they come who will get in the ring and battle anyone who dares to challenge him. His sensational victory over Joseph Parker earlier this year was the most important moment of his career, and as he looks to finally clinch a world title opportunity in 2019, Derek Chisora is a welcome opponent to close the year against.
Chisora is the cat of British boxing, whose nine lives have eked out every possible drop of drama possible. A decade of controversy has seen him fight the best of the best and now in his mid-thirties he’s earned another big fight after his crushing knockout of Carlos Takam in July. Now backed by David Haye, Chisora is talking big ahead of this clash, but it’s likely Whyte’s youth and size will be too much for his veteran opponent.
An average undercard in London isn’t worth paying much attention to, although Ryan Walsh and Reece Bellotti should make for an entertaining British featherweight title clash, while David Price continues his role as undercard Frankenstein against Tom Little.
Over in Manchester, Josh Warrington defends his IBF featherweight title against former world champion Carl Frampton. Warrington won his belt against Lee Selby in May and defends it for the first time against Frampton. Plenty of talk has emanated from both camps ahead of this bout with sassy anger from either side. The real talk will happen in the ring however where we will see if Josh Warrington’s undefeated streak – the longest in British boxing – is under pressure from Frampton.
Boxing is a muggy sport where few ever emerge with everything still intact. Yet despite its flaws there is so much to marvel at and enjoy from the electric build-up to big fights to the actual skill of the boxers. This is a hard time of year for everybody despite the alleged radiance of Christmas. It’s up to us as boxing fans to forget about the greed of those who always chase the slightest sliver of a pound note and celebrate the world class athletes putting it all on the line.
So, whether you buy one, both or neither pay-per-view this is the perfect time for promoters to respect fans a little more and give something back. Viewers are not commodities, nor are they dopes who should be exploited. Let the fighting happen in the ring and have a little love outside of it please.