British Promotor Frank Warren spoke with iFL TV recently and revealed that his newly-crowned WBO World lightweight champion Terry Flanagan (28-0, 11 KO’s) has been ordered to face his mandatory challenger, American Diego Magdaleno (28-1, 12 KO’s).
The bout is looking likely for October in Manchester though not yet officially confirmed. It will act as Flanagan’s first big test after winning the vacant title in unusual fashion in July after his opponent Jose Zepeda suffered a freak shoulder injury two rounds in.
“That’s a tough fight for Terry for his first defence but you know I think Terry is a very capable fighter, I’ve got a lot of faith in him and I think it’s winnable fight for him. It will not be easy, they do fancy themselves.”
Warren has some very talented lightweights in his stable with Flanagan alongside WBA interim champ Derry Matthews and the undefeated Liam Walsh. Warren’s rival Eddie Hearn -whose Matchroom Sports outfit enjoys lucrative exclusivity with the powerhouse television network Sky- also has a decent set of 135-pounders signed to him, including Anthony Crolla, Kevin Mitchell, Luke Campbell, Ricky Burns and Tommy Coyle.
On a much-publicised card a fortnight ago headlined by Luke Campbell vs Tommy Coyle in a world title eliminator, Sky displayed their rankings for the UK lightweights during the broadcast. The top three positions were filled by Matchroom fighters -1) Burns, 2) Crolla, 3) Mitchell- ahead of Flanagan in fourth place, the only world champion on the list.
Derry Matthews lingered down in ninth behind Gary Buckland and Stephen Ormond, neither of whom have been anywhere near even an interim belt.
Warren questioned the validity of those ratings and the pedestal on which he feels Matchroom places their fighters.
“Sky are biased. You would say I’m biased, and I try not to be biased, but Sky are biased. Their commentary is biased. Those fights last weekend or the weekend before, the commentary was biased, the ratings were biased.”
“Luke Campbell is a nice fighter, he’s a great advert for the game, he’s done everything as an amateur, he’s a nice boy but please. He’s a got a long way to go, he fought Tommy Coyle, how is that an eliminator for the world title? And no offense against Coyle he’s a good fighter. I’m not gonna use a disrespectful term like journeyman but please, let’s not turn it into something it’s not.”
“Everybody’s got their opinions and their views, and they’re entitled to them, but I just think like, because it’s not on Sky it gets disregarded by their commentary team. Remember it’s a big PR marketing thing with them; ‘bang bang bang, this is where it is, this is where it’s at, these are the fighters and the rest don’t count.’ Well, that’s not right.”
It is not unheard of for a company to focus on their own brand but those ratings are a bit puzzling when you consider Burns has lost three of his last five, albeit two at a very high standard against Terence Crawford and Omar Figueroa.
As for the ‘world title eliminator’ status of the main event on that evening, it seems to have been a device more to up the ante more than an official step towards any belt. Questionable? Yes. Unheard of? No.
It is understandable for Matchroom to publicize their talent through the long-reaching arms of Sky television, and it is not their fault that Warren’s subscription channel Boxnation TV cannot compete on that front. But this situation between the two parties is looking remarkably similar to the last cold-war in the States between Top Rank/HBO and Golden Boy/Showtime. It’s just dumb and only serves to misinform the uninitiated as to the actual state of the boxing landscape.