FOR decades, rival promoters (and fighters) tying themselves to different broadcasters have created huge hurdles to getting the biggest and best fights in boxing signed. Though it did eventually happen, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao spent years circling each other and when they did meet in the ring, both were past their best. The problem is often that competing broadcasters cannot reach a deal to share the rights to a big fight, so it just ends up not happening. A major reason Mayweather-Pacquiao got over the line is because HBO and Showtime eventually hammered out an agreement to share the pay-per-view broadcast, a trend that is being followed more and more in recent years.

A report in The Times, though, suggests a more surprising development in the broadcast wars: the defection of a promoter from their current broadcast partner to that of their closest promotional rival. According to the report, Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions is in talks with streaming service DAZN over the sale of international rights to its events. DAZN, of course, is aligned with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, who signed a five-year broadcast deal with the service in 2021.

Neither DAZN nor Queensberry commented in the record when approached by The Times, who claim the talks are focused on “certain international territories.” That suggests that the US may not be one of those territories – Warren and Queensberry have been working with ESPN and Top Rank in America for several years now.

Taken at face value, the sale of international rights of Queensberry events to DAZN may not seem like a big deal – but the implications of it could be huge. As The Times notes in its article, if a deal is struck between Queensberry and DAZN, this could lead to negotiations over Warren’s UK shows. His current exclusive UK broadcast deal with TNT Sports, formerly known as BT Sport, is set to end next year. The Times suggests that DAZN is very likely to make a play for those rights when they become available.

The report offers no firm evidence to that effect, so it could be nothing more than speculation at this stage, but it doesn’t seem out of the question. Warren and Hearn – who famously had never even met face-to-face before – are now actively collaborating together for shows in Saudi Arabia. Just this week there was further confirmation of the ‘Matchroom vs Queensberry’ card that will take place there later this year.

This could all pave the way for Queensberry to strike a deal with DAZN for both their international and UK broadcast rights, when they are available to. That would see two of the biggest and best promoters in the sport under the same broadcast banner, which is all but unheard of in boxing.

And that would be undeniably exciting. There have been countless potentially excellent fights between Queensberry and Matchroom fighters over the years that have withered on the vine because of broadcast conflicts. If that barrier was removed, we would be looking at some great nights in the future, namely a potential megafight between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.

There are plenty of things that need to happen first – including Fury beating Oleksandr Usyk in May and then perhaps again in a rematch – but Warren and Hearn both being partnered with DAZN would be a huge step toward that fight getting made.

And more consolidation in a sport notorious for its fragmented systems isn’t a wholly bad thing. Beside the benefit of more big fights being easier to make, it also potentially benefits consumers who won’t require subscriptions to as many broadcast services if more events are taking place on just one. However, if that consolidation went too far it could potentially remove competition in the broadcast market. Would that lower the incentive to stage the absolute best fights as much as possible? Perhaps, but boxing broadcasters are not just competing with one another, but all sports broadcasters. If one service, for example DAZN, managed to practically monopolise the boxing market it would still need to provide sufficient value to retain customers and compete with other sports for attention and viewership.

So what of the boxing broadcast scene in the UK? Sky Sports is currently in partnership with Boxxer, but that deal is also set to end in 2025. Both Sky and TNT could be in the market for new broadcast deals, which could massively shake things up. There is also the possibility that one or both might deem boxing more trouble than it’s worth and step away from the sport, as we’ve seen HBO and Showtime do in the US.

Nobody (well, except perhaps the execs at DAZN) wants that to happen. Sky and TNT are excellent broadcasters who have shown a consistent commitment to the sport, providing some of the most memorable nights in recent boxing history. To lose them would be a blow.

Could there be a partnership with promotion GBM Sports in the future? The fledgling outfit recently announced the signing of Adam Smith – former Head of Boxing at Sky – as its new Director of Broadcasting, a role which sees him back at the commentary table after a period away from the sport while he was battling cancer.

It’s fantastic to have Smith back in action – he’s a boxing man through-and-through and one of the best commentators in the world. His new job title with GBM is an interesting one; the company currently has a live broadcast deal with talkSPORT, but the appointment of Smith could lead to a television broadcast agreement with a major player should the opportunity arise.

Boxing on the Box


March 29

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March 30

Elijah Pierce-Arthur Villanueva


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March 31

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