Before I begin this rant I would just like to say that I am a paying customer of Sky television and am very happy with the service I receive and the company as a whole but I do have a few reservations concerning the sports division. For a start there is the wholesale monopolizing of the sport coverage world that means that any sporting event worth watching has to be paid for at a monthly premium. Weekly football, rugby, Formula 1, Ufc, golf, cricket and boxing events are spread across either Sky sports or BT sport with very little left for customers who cannot afford 20+ pounds per month just for sport!
This month’s annoyance comes from the Sky sports boxing team that in the name of drumming up business fails to paint an honest picture of the upcoming bouts and grossly over estimates how close these fights are going to be. I have to praise both Sky and Boxnation for bringing the world of boxing to the U.K. and for allowing us to see big American fights live. I can remember when I was a young kid in the mid eighties when these big fights were just not available until days later or sometimes not at all, sometimes the only report you got was a few lines in the newspaper. The same goes for the Ultimate fighting championship that is broadcast live on BT sport, a far cry from its early days in the late nineties when it had to be viewed on jumpy, unreliable VHS tapes that were like gold dust to acquire.
Sky sport has forged a very close relationship with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom boxing that has given British fighters some remarkable opportunities where many have won world titles and had great worldwide success. Fair play to Eddie he has made these brave warriors very well off financially indeed and given us some great fights but some of his matchmaking has been woeful at best. A great deal of these boxing events are shown on Sky Box Office that adds £15.99 per event to the Sky sports subscription of £24 per month, for that money people expect a lot of bang for their buck. To flesh out the night of boxing a substantial undercard of fights is arranged to compliment the main event but some of the opponents leave a lot to be desired. A great number of up and coming British fighters and well known veterans are wheeled out for these undercards but the ropey eastern European and south American journeymen that they face are usually too poorly equipped with skills and desire to last even a few rounds. Obviously Eddie Hearn wants his guys to win and be successful but we want to see them tested and not just turned out for a glorified sparring session which happens time and time again.
A worrying trend lately has seen even the main events become horrible mismatches that are masqueraded as genuine 50/50 dust-ups. Through no fault of his own Kell Brook the Sheffield welterweight has been at the centre of a number of these one sided snooze fests. The first two, Jo Jo Dan and Kevin Bizier were the number one contenders for Brook’s IBF title and so were necessary bouts even though both opponents were horribly outclassed but then we come to GGG! Kell Brook deserves massive props for stepping up two weight classes to face the middleweight destroyer Gennady Golovkin but we all knew that he stood no chance…didn’t we?
I knew that Brook would not last six rounds against the smiling but brutal Kazakh and so did all the other boxing fans amongst my friends and colleagues but the Sky boxing team had other ideas! Johnny Nelson, Carl ‘I fought in front of 8o,00o at Wembley’ Froch and Hearn himself all gave Brook not just a chance but the edge over the middleweight king! I know they have to sell the fight to the paying public but please…come on…really! Anyone who had ever seen a boxing match before knew that Brook was seriously out of his depth. It was always a question of how long he would last and not if he could win and no amount of so called expert analysis was going to convince me otherwise.
The Anthony Joshua vs Eric Molina fight is another case in point and another massive mismatch. Molina is a terribly out of shape second rate fighter who was lucky to get his first title shot (which he lost!) and certainly does not warrant a second tilt at world glory but I suppose it is the Heavyweight division and one punch can change any fight.Again though I have to berate Eddie Hearn for not choosing a more capable opponent such as the New Zealander Joseph Parker, Bulgarian giant Kubrat Pulev or the dangerous Russian Alexander Povetkin. These opponents would be tough but I think AJ would do just fine.
The final fly in the ointment and perhaps a bigger mismatch than Brook vs Golovkin is the upcoming David Haye vs Tony Bellew fight in March. I must confess that I am looking forward to seeing Bellew get knocked out but he should not be sharing a ring with Haye under any circumstances. I honestly don’t see Bellew reaching round 3 but already the team Sky experts have been bigging up Bellew’s chances of pulling off a stunning victory! Not in a month of sundays!!! The saddest part is the predictability of it all. When Bellew gets knocked out and it is all over he will stand in the ring and say that he’s not really a heavyweight (which we all know) but he is still the best cruiserweight on the planet (which he isn’t ahem…Usyk, Gassiev, Lebedev, Huck, etc) and the Sky/ Hearn gravy train will roll on to the next big mismatch!