Froch unhappy about lack of TV deal in UK
Carl Froch, the undefeated super middleweight titleholder from England, has been applauded for having the confidence to make his first title defense in the United States, against Jermain Taylor on Saturday in Mashantucket, Conn.
But his decision apparently had more to do with economics than courage.
Froch evidently doesn’t have the following that such compatriots as Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe and David Haye have back home. The most-striking evidence: The Froch-Taylor fight can be watched live only online in the UK because no television network there wanted to touch it.
The fight will be shown as it happens at omnisport.tv for ┬ú9.95 ($14.50) in the UK and delayed on TV after a last-second deal was reached with ITV. Showtime will televise it live in the U.S.
“He had no choice but to go there,” said Colin Hart, the dean of boxing writers in the UK. “There’s no money here for him. He wasn’t going to get (big) money here because of the recession. It was inevitable that he would go over there to get it.
“He’s undefeated, the WBC champion, but he isn’t a big attraction in this country. He hasn’t had the same TV exposure Hatton and other people have had.”
The fight will take place at 3 a.m. in Britain, obviously another factor that worked against a television deal. Advertisers want bang for their pound, particularly in hard economic times. Froch’s promoter, Mick Hennessy, told the BBC that he believes the fight would have been shown on free television if it were taking place at a more-reasonable time in Britain.
Still, Froch (24-0, 19 knockouts) isn’t happy about the television situation back home. According to the BBC, he called the lack of interest “laughable” and a “disgrace.”
The seven-year professional has done his part, climbing the rankings without losing and doing it in a fan-pleasing, aggressive style. He outpointed Jean Pascal in a thrilling brawl to win the vacant WBC belt in December, making him Britain’s only major titleholder.
On top of that, he’s articulate and has an engaging personality. Lou DiBella, Taylor’s promoter, likened Froch to former featherweight titleholder Naseem Hamed because of his overwhelming confidence.
Still, Froch somehow hasn’t struck enough of a chord with those outside his home region of Nottinghamshire to merit a TV deal.
He was asked about that shortly before the last-minute agreement on a delayed broadcast was reached.
“This is a massive fight, although British TV doesn’t seem to think so,” Froch said. “Unless something can be agreed shortly before the fight it’s going to mean fight fans missing out on seeing one of British boxing’s greatest ever nights, and that would be a real shame.
“The irony is that I could have stayed at home in Nottingham, had a nice easy, first defense, and that would have been shown on British TV.”
Of course, Froch could radically change the perception of him — both here and at home — with a strong performance against Taylor, the former undisputed middleweight titleholder.
If he comes out on top, particularly in an entertaining fight, there’s no reason to think that Showtime won’t feature him again. And undoubtedly a victory over such a well-known, established opponent will catch the attention of those back home.
Who knows? Television executives might even decide he’s worth the investment.
“Think about it,” DiBella said. “Literally 100 percent of the money he’ll be getting is coming out of the U.S., where no one knows him. ÔÇª This [fighting in the U.S.] wasn’t his best move, it was his only move. It was all right in front of him. The mandatory challenger happened to be a star in the U.S. And if you beat the star, you improve your own credentials.
“Taylor is fighting for championships; Froch is fighting to be a money player.”
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]