By Sam Constantinou Coulter – This past weekend Chris Eubank Jr headlined terrestrial television channel ITV’s first dip into the boxing Pay-Per-View (PPV) market when facing the then IBO super middleweight champion Renold Quinlan.
On the first impression, ITV’s involvement in the sport appears a fantastic element to throw into British boxing as it provides another outlet for fight fans to see the sport. This then creates greater competition amongst broadcasters.
Ultimately commercial competition is good for the consumer as it forces the providers to produce ever higher levels of product quality in order to attract the viewers. This creates a situation of better fights being made, which is of course what the fans truly want to see.
There have however been considerable criticisms of this particular ITV aired show. PPV shows have generally been few and far between in British boxing over the past decade until Anthony Joshua’s emergence as a major star. PPV events are regarded as the biggest nights of boxing and the extra paid platform has a higher level of scrutiny and expectation.
In the case of this past weekend’s event, most fans and those involved in the sport feel that the event fell well short of the expectations of a PPV show. The event took place at a small arena with tickets going on sale a matter of weeks before the event. More than anything it lacked the anticipation that a big night of boxing normally has.
The main event was widely regarded as a foregone conclusion before it took place and whilst the undercard featured some good fighters it went without the top quality names that you anticipate on a PPV event.
Whilst no one truly wants to pay to watch sport, boxing fans do not mind digging deep into their pockets to shell out their hard earned money provided that they are given value for money and rewarded with an evening of entertainment.
Whilst the boxing at the Olympia this past weekend was entertaining it has to be said that it was not worthy of PPV status. Yes, Chris Eubank Jr is a big name but facing a 11-1 fighter for a title that many do not regard as a genuine world title and expecting those at home to pay to watch it is in all honesty pretty poor form.
ITV and those advising them on boxing need to be careful with their venture into the sport if they are to make it a success. They cannot continue to produce shows that the boxing fan sees as non-competitive and still expect them to pay for it.
Hopefully, if ITV is to commit to the sport with the Eubanks, fans will see a higher level of opposition with names like James DeGale, Billy Joe Saunders and Gennady Golovkin being mentioned.
In terms of Eubank Jr himself he showed what many already know about him, he has good speed, excellent punch output and tremendous athleticism. He is a highly talented fighter who so often talks about fighting the world’s best but as yet has failed to do so.
In the one time that he has truly stepped up and faced a man, he wasn’t the huge favourite to beat he walked away with a loss. Whilst Eubank Jr showed that he can mix it with the likes of the current WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders in 2014 he was outboxed for the first half of the fight and made to look rather naive at times.
Jr has a pleasing style to watch and with his eccentric father constantly involved in his son’s affairs there is a unique appeal to Jr that could see him become a massive name in the sport.
In order to do so, he will ultimately have to step up and validate all of his and his father’s talk. For so long they have called out the biggest names at middleweight and super middleweight and talked as though he is leagues above them but when it has come to agreeing to the fight something seems to happen.
It has led many to feel that Eubank Jr doesn’t, in fact, want to face the best and that instead, he is more than happy to fight domestic level opposition whilst talking of higher honours. It does, however, seem that Jr does want the fights but that his father is making the decisions that count.
For several years now observers have commented that Eubank Sr has too much of an involvement in his son’s career to the point that he is a detriment. He is a very controversial character who the likes of Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren label as near impossible to deal with.
There is the feeling that Eubank Jr has missed out on a series of big fights with the likes of Golovkin and a rematch with Saunders due to the miss management of his father. Many fans believe he has been held back by his father and that it is time he was let loose from his shackles.
Whether fans like it or not Eubank Sr is always going to play a major role in his son’s career and to a large extent that is part of the appeal of seeing Jr.
Hopefully, ITV will continue to broadcast the sport and even become more involved going forward but at this point, I urge a note of caution to both ITV and the Eubanks. You cannot continue to try and gloss over fights that fans already know the outcome of and expect them to pay to watch it.
Fans will only buy into such events for so long before they realise that they are being taken advantage of. It is in the interests of the sport for ITV to be involved in the sport as they have such a massive audience but it must be done in the right way.