Should Katie Taylor vs Natasha Jonas have been the headline act?
George Gigney looks back on the Sky Sports show which gave Eubank Jnr and Hatton’s untitled fights higher billing than Bivol’s defense against Richards and made Katie Taylor against Natasha Jonas an act of support
There had been a lot of interesting talk in the days and weeks leading up to Sky Sports’ Manchester card topped with Derek Chisora and Joseph Parker to find out if he deserved to be à la carte. There’s no need to revisit this discussion here, but it’s worth looking at the order of the fights on the map. First of all, the main event. Yes, Chisora is a well known and popular merchandise in the UK and Parker is also a familiar face – plus they’re both heavyweights which always helps – but it was a lower match compared to Katie Taylor’s defense of her undisputed lightweight title against Natasha Jonas. Not only was there the story of their unforgettable meeting at the 2012 Olympics, but also the formidable form they both brought to combat.
This point was only amplified when Taylor and Jonas produced 10 incredible action series, stealing the limelight from the headliners. To Sky’s credit, they raised the question of the women’s title fights only being set for 10 two-minute rounds and how, on that occasion, that deprived fans of more captivating boxing. These rules are not set by the broadcaster, but the powers are needed to meet them, and this show pointed out.
Dmitry Bivol, defending his WBA light heavyweight title, was ridiculously low on the schedule. Despite making a huge leap forward in class, Craig Richards was still a British fighter challenging his first world title, which made it even stranger that this fight was so early.
He preceded Chris Eubank Jnr in a fight against Marcus Morrison he was widely expected to win and Campbell Hatton’s second professional outing. Yes, these two are sons of British boxing icons and, in the case of Eubank Jnr, proven draw and talent, but there was no explanation as to why these particular fights deserved higher billing than Bivol-Richards. There wasn’t even a Mancunian crowd in the arena to justify Hatton’s high lunge on the map.
This, of course, is not an effort to disparage these fighters or their efforts, nor an act of ignorance against the realities of the boxing business. Eubank Jnr and Hatton – even at this embryonic stage of his career – are more bankable names for a wider UK audience than Bivol. Chisora and Parker are also slightly easier to market than Taylor and Jonas, but that doesn’t alleviate the disappointment some boxing fans will have felt.
Promoter Eddie Hearn was particularly blunt on the show when asked about the latest updates on the Tyson Fury-Anthony Joshua negotiations, reiterating what Frank Warren said on BT Sport the night before that they had now received a contract from the Saudi organizers. Hearn also reacted to recent comments from Bob Arum, who told numerous outlets that the fight was “dead in the water.” An exasperated Hearn insisted the fight was very engaged and he hopes an announcement can be made within the week. If so, someone really needs to register with Arum.
After retiring from his next fight with lightweight star Javier Fortuna Ryan garcia confirmed that the reasons for his decision were related to his mental health. Not only is it very encouraging to see a young fighter being open about it, as noted in last week’s column, but the understanding from the fans was heartwarming.
Middleweight prospect Austin “Ammo” Williams, 24, is also taking time away from sports to focus on his sanity. After some erratic social media actions, the middleweight prospect is now backed by promoter Eddie Hearn to seek professional help with his struggles.
These are serious health issues and it is normal for fighters to give them the attention they deserve. Whether these are the first signs of an inherent problem for many young fighters remains to be seen, but it is a positive step that they can highlight the problem and have the support of those managing their careers.
The Telegraph reports that British businesswoman Susannah Schofield is launching an all-female fight league, with Sky already on board to broadcast eight nights of fight. Rather than targeting the best women in the sport, Schofield is apparently working to bridge the classroom gap between elite champions and the majority of their challengers.
Boxing isn’t exactly an easy business to crack, but Schofield’s goals could have a real positive impact on the sport and it’s a clear victory that she already has by her side. It will be interesting to see where this fighting league leads and if it actually encourages more girls and women to take up the sport.