PRESS GANG NOT PACKING A PUNCH
By Frank Warren
The sport of boxing can rarely have been more buoyant in this country, with home fighters galore in possession of world championship belts. With that in mind, it remains a source of bemusement to me that the fight game still struggles to capture the imagination of the print media.
There are, of course, a few honourable exceptions but, by and large, boxing really doesn’t get to punch its weight in the popular prints.
It is a real shame, particularly at a time when the profile of the sport is being raised to lofty heights by the big TV companies, who appear to be falling over themselves to get top boxing on the box.
The written press, however, are consumed by devoting page upon page to football to the exclusion of other sports.
A boxing fan, for instance, would not be able to rely on his daily paper to keep well informed on his favourite sport. Surely this is what newspapers should be about – the clue is in the name.
Cricket and racing isn’t to everyone’s taste, but space is still afforded to scoreboards and race cards.
Even if a sports editor decides certain shows aren’t worthy of big licks, the outcomes of the fights should at least be contained within the results section.
I understand that budget constraints pretty much put paid to the appointments of full-time boxing correspondents – those were the days – but surely with the rude health the sport finds itself in should warrant wider coverage.
There are a number of eminent boxing writers – in tandem with other sports – who attempt to bang the drum and get shows and press conferences covered, but they are often fighting a losing battle.
Boxing news itself, apparently, isn’t news worthy, but when Tyson Fury flashed his belly last year the picture was carried on the front page of a good few tabloids.
It is the extremes of the sport that catches the attention of the newspapers, but when it happens it is accompanied by a heavy dollop of tut-tutting by the thought police inside.
All I am saying is that boxing deserves a fair crack of the whip, particularly at a time when it is probably Britain’s most successful sporting pursuit – boasting 13 world champions.
In the period between Christmas and New Year a number of papers named their picks as to who would be the likely lads and lasses to succeed in 2017.
British boxers somehow missed the cut.
It does make you wonder when you see this – what planet are these people on? Are they in touch?
The BBC are no better, the only one of the major broadcasters that give the sport a wide berth and compounded by the staggering omission of Carl Frampton from the nominations for the Sports Personality of the Year.
I know the BBC have had a downer on boxing, no doubt about that, and I know this from previous dealings with them.
They find money for all sorts of other things, yet they are supposed to reflect all aspects of society as a publicly funded organisation.
They are not reflecting the views of the public, it they were there would be boxing on the BBC.
They can’t say it is too expensive because they don’t have to be in there at the elite end.
It shouldn’t all be about ratings anyway, it should be about delivering a cross section of content. Strictly Come Dancing doesn’t have to compete with the X-Factor, that is not what the BBC is supposed to be about.
They could broadcast boxing at a lower level – giving valuable projection to young prospects – and it is not like they don’t have the airtime or channels available to do a good job in promoting such a prolific producer of British success stories.