By Richard Hubbard
The Channel of Champions, very soon to be operating in tandem with BT Sport, does what it says on the tin and provides genuine fights for real fight fans on a weekly basis.
The next domestic date in the BoxNation diary is the epic Manchester Arena card on April 8, which will be headlined by Flanagan’s defence of his WBO world lightweight title against Petr Petrov and the all-British blockbuster between Liam Smith and Liam Williams at super welterweight.
It is an occasion fit for millions, making it an appropriate launch pad for the entry of BT Sport into big-time boxing.
Flanagan has been a BoxNation mainstay for some time now, with the channel showcasing his capture and subsequent four defences of the world title he won in July 2015.
It has been well documented that the southpaw is not a schmoozer and lets his fists do his talking. So while he is not – and probably never will be a big one for hype – he knows his stuff and emphatically insists BoxNation is the place to be for dedicated followers of the sport.
“You only have to look at Sky’s shows in comparison to BoxNation’s,” said the man who will usher in the ‘New Era’ in his home town. “I think BoxNation’s are a mile ahead of Sky in terms of putting great fights on. You only have to look at the odds of some of the fights that get put on Sky and they put like one main fight on.
“Liam Smith and Williams is a close fight, a 50-50 fight, then you’ve got Nicola Adams on the bill, Catterall-Gethin, which is a great fight, also Kelly-Godding – another close fight.
“People should watch it because Frank (Warren) is putting on great shows.”
Manufactured hype and fake hate is really not Flanagan’s thing. To his mind an even-money fight should sell itself.
The BoxNation viewers have the respect of the 32-0 world champion because they know what they are watching and no amount of verbal jousting beforehand will alter perspectives.
“It’s boxing isn’t it? If you’ve got BoxNation you are a boxing fan. If you are just watching boxing on Sky, everyone has it and you are seeing what they want you to see. If you subscribe to BoxNation it shows you are a good boxing fan and know what you’re getting.
“It is more about fights than hype, like me, and I say time and time again, I am not one to start saying I’m going to do this or that, then start kissing in the ring at the end of the fight.
“If I don’t like someone, I don’t like them. Everyone I’ve fought I’ve had no reason not to like them so I’m not going to say before that I can’t stand them or want to knock them out.
“Even when I fought Derry (Mathews), he tried to pin it up as a Manchester v Scouser thing, but I like Derry as he’s funny and was just trying to sell the fight. He’s a nice guy and if I saw him out I would have a drink with him.”
Flanagan welcomes the union between BoxNation and BT Sport, a wedlock he believes will strengthen the platform he performs on and draw more people to the sport.
“They were down the other night filming a promo with me, so it is good, although I don’t really enjoy that side of it. If it sells a few more tickets though and gets me a few more fans, then I am happy!”
While Flanagan views himself as the real deal in the lightweight division, there is another he views as the genuine article.
Mikey Garcia was brutal in is dispatch of Dejan Zlaticanin in January and is now the holder of the WBC title.
Unifications are the order of the day to sort out a definitive pecking order and, good as he is, Flanagan would harbour no fears over putting his name forward for what would probably be the most formidable of the cross-champion challenges.
“I agree, Mikey Garcia, I believe, is up there with the best lightweight champions and will go down in Mexican history like (Juan Manuel) Marquez and (Marco Antonio) Barrera. He is a great fighter with a great jab and is very strong.
“He is world class but, if I was offered the fight, I would take it because I want to be in these fights.
“Zlaticanin I saw as the weakest of the champions. Frank was confident of having made the fight and I was over the moon. I saw a fight with me and him going the same way as the Garcia fight did. I might not have knocked him out in three rounds, but I would’ve broke him up and got him out of there.”
Put to him that the WBC would be keen to match Garcia with Jorge Linares, now the Venezuelan has seen off the second coming of Anthony Crolla, Flanagan was typically philosophical and came up with a couple of enticing alternatives should it turn out to be the case.
“Most likely, but I’m not fussed, Robert Easter has been talking a bit on Twitter. I just said I saw him as the weakest of the champions now Garcia has taken Zlaticanin’s belt. He is tall rangy good boxer who has a bit of a following in his home town.
“I just believe I would beat him,” he added, before dropping in the name of one Vasyl Lomachenko.
“I said to Frank I would jump at the chance of fighting him if he wants to step up and fight me for my title. He’s had the WBO at feather and super feather and I’ve heard him saying they are running scared of him now, so if he wanted to step up I would prove myself.
“I’d be the bigger guy in there. Don’t get me wrong, he is another world class fighter and is seen as one of the best pound-for-pound, so for me to box him and beat him would put me up there.”
So is there any particular preference for a big summer showdown, assuming the challenge of Petrov is accounted for?
“I’d probably say Lomachenko myself, although I don’t know what Steve (trainer, Maylett) would say. He is seen as the best
“I’d still be myself really in the build up and stuff.”
You can be sure he would because, for Flanagan, actions will always speak louder than words.