When DAZN and Matchroom announced that five-year UK partnership last week the phrase they used was “game changed” – and Top Rank couldn’t resist responding in kind when it announced a four-year pact with Sky Sports on Friday.
The UK’s biggest sports rights holder has replaced Eddie Hearn with Bob Arum to close that gaping hole in its boxing coverage by inking a deal which will mean at least 18 Top Rank shows per year will appear on Sky in the UK and Ireland.
Reported earlier this week, Top Rank officially announced the pact on Friday and its VP of Boxing Ops Carl Moretti couldn’t resist having some fun in the process.
He shared the Top Rank announcement tweet with the words “game changed”. Clearly a shot back at DAZN and Hearn.
👀 Game. Changed https://t.co/VFz2sJ1E6U
— Carl Moretti (@CarlMoretti) June 11, 2021
While it is no surprise to see Sky Sports remain in the boxing game – it’s been a hugely successful sport for them – the partnership does raise some questions.
TR deal raises Sky questions
In recent years the broadcaster had gone all in with Hearn and Matchroom and seemed less than interested in broadcasting top shows from the United States in the middle of the night UK time. But that’s exactly what the Top Rank deal will mean, at least initially.
In the first month alone huge shows headlined by Shakur Stevenson, Vasiliy Lomachenko and Naoya Inoue will hit the Sky schedule. But they will all have main events which will likely start after 0400 Sunday in the UK.
Of course it’s entirely possible that Top Rank will look to start putting shows on in the UK, which would just ramp up the competition in an already spicy domestic market. While Hearn and Matchroom are now exclusive to DAZN, Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions has a major deal with BT Sport.
Arum vs Hearn in UK
While Arum – now 89 years of age – and Hearn clearly have a grudging respect, the pair have not seen eye to eye over the recent collapse of the planned Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua superfight.
Fury of course will now meet Deontay Wilder in a trilogy fight on July 24 instead. It’s important to note that fights involving ‘The Gypsy King’ are not included in the Top Rank pact with Sky. Fury’s fights since his comeback in 2018 have all aired on BT Sport in the UK.
The partnership with Top Rank also gives Sky Sports access to the promoter’s deep archive of content – including some of the biggest fights and greatest fighters in history.
Sky adds Boxxer to the mix
While Top Rank will give Sky elite coverage from the United States, the broadcaster also moved to beef up its UK coverage on Friday by announcing a four-year deal with Boxxer – founded by promotional prodigy Ben Shalom. The Boxxer team also includes John Wischhusen, former head of boxing at Hearn’s Matchroom.
Boxxer’s Sky schedule in the UK will be be revealed in August.