George Gigney reviews the boxing media as DAZN launch in the UK with the first Fight Camp of 2021
DAZN and Matchroom Boxing kicked off their 2021 version of the Fight Camp series in style. The card itself suffered when its main event – Conor Benn vs Adrian Granados – was scrapped earlier in the week due to Benn testing positive for Covid-19, but in reality this didn’t take too much away from the event. In fact, Leigh Wood’s unexpected triumph over Xu Can was just the sort of emotional high that caps off entertaining nights of boxing so well. In terms of production, it’s hard to fault DAZN. Some users reported a few glitches with the app, though from my own experience there were no hiccups in the broadcast. Plus – and this is a huge plus – there were minimal adverts, and certainly none during the break in between rounds of boxing. Will that change as DAZN becomes a larger platform in the UK? Perhaps, but for now it’s a welcome change of pace. The setup of Fight Camp was not that different from last year, except of course the Sky Sports branding being replaced for DAZN’s. There was also a small crowd of 300 fans in attendance, which helped add to the festival/garden party vibe. What was perhaps most impressive about the show was that nothing felt out of place. At this stage, DAZN have plenty of broadcast experience but they were still broaching a new territory, yet the event ran smoothly with every presenter seeming at ease.
DAZN were also able to roll out their roster of on-screen talent, spearheaded by host Maya Jama. She was mainly tasked with piecing the show together and providing punditry with Tony Bellew. Jama will be the first to admit she’s not the most qualified when it comes to breaking down the technical aspects of boxing, and that wasn’t really her job here; instead, she was providing jumping-off points for Bellew to elaborate on with his expertise.
Jama is an engaging presence and an excellent television host, though the punditry might have benefited from having one more former (or current) fighter with whom Bellew could bounce off. Sky honed this formula pretty well with the likes of Carl Froch, Natasha Jonas, Anthony Crolla and many more providing excellent insight and analysis.
Laura Woods adopted more of a roving reporter role on the broadcast, providing backstage updates and also interviewing the fighters and promoter Eddie Hearn. As expected, based on her previous broadcast experience, she was terrific.
With Mike Costello in Tokyo to cover the Olympic Games, it was up to Chris Lloyd to lead the commentary team and he too was stellar. He didn’t impose himself on the action too much and let the boxing speak for itself at times. He also gave co-commentators Darren Barker and Andy Lee the space to share their expertise and thoughts. They made for a great team and further proved DAZN has invested in boxing experts.
Overall, the card was clearly a success for the streaming service. It was, predominantly, paced well though dragged a little at times in between some fights, and perhaps could have offered up some way of watching earlier fights live, such as Sandy Ryan’s debut. Apart from that, there’s a lot for fans to be excited about as the platform develops its offerings in the UK.
It now seems that Canelo Alvarez won’t be fighting Caleb Plant in September, according to ESPN. The agreement – which would have brought the Mexican superstar to PBC on FOX for at least this one fight – was reportedly on the verge of being finalised, but is now dead. The issue appears to have been over contracts, with Plant claiming that Canelo and his side were simply making too many demands. “I question whether legacy or money is their real motive. We’ve been waiting for him to get done with his wedding, shooting his TV show, his golf tournament and now have tried to give him everything he wants and more to make this fight,” he told ESPN. “I’m more than willing, able and ready to fight Canelo Alvarez on any date. Those are the real facts and if anyone has something to say differently, we have the paperwork to prove it.”
It’s a shame the fight isn’t happening as Plant is Canelo’s last main threat at 168lbs, if you discount a potential move up in weight from Gennady Golovkin. The silver lining is that Alvarez, according to Hearn, is eyeing up an enticing alternative; a meeting with unbeaten light-heavyweight Dmitry Bivol.
The Daily Mirror has reported that Daniel Dubois and Tommy Fury will make their American debuts on the undercard of Jake Paul vs Tyron Woodley on Showtime pay-per-view later this year. If true, the move would open the pair of prospects up to a huge new audience.
The Mirror also claims Fury will sign a two-fight deal with the broadcaster, aiming to build to a fight with Paul. That would make Fury the first actual boxer that Paul has fought.
Whatever your opinion on the Paul sideshow, this move will do wonders for Dubois and Fury’s profiles should they perform well in their respective fights. Plus, if Fury were to fight and beat Paul, he would become an instant star.
His older brother, Tyson, still hopes for a megafight with Anthony Joshua and his co-promoter Bob Arum made some strange comments to Sky Sports about that fight happening in the UK. The veteran promoter claimed both fighters owe it to the UK fans to stage the fight there, despite previously agreeing that such an event would have to take place in a territory that could stump up more money. A Fury-Joshua fight at Wembley Stadium would be transcendent though.