This Saturday night is one of the busiest boxing events of the year, but many are questioning whether it is one of the best, as Sky Boxing offers its second Pay-Pay-View event of 2014, while on BoxNation, one of the greatest fighters in living memory competes against an unheralded American with a fascinating backstory.
For the majority of sports consumers in Britain, being able to watch the most important moments in their chosen fandom is a straightforward situation. They subscribe to a sports channel, where for a monthly fee they are treated to everything they need to watch. Football fans can watch the Premier League and Champions League, cricket fans have access to every test match on the calendar, while Formula One fanatics have access to a whole channel dedicated to cars racing round a track.
Boxing connoisseurs however do not have it so easy. While the concept of Pay-Per-View television is nowhere near as prevalent over here as it is in America, there are still certain boxing cards in which the viewing public are forced to hand over money on top of the already hefty fee they pay for sports channels.
Sometimes a PPV just works – Ricky Hatton vs Floyd Mayweather and Carl Froch vs George Groves both caught the public’s imagination, and indeed all of those PPVs displayed meaningful and well crafted main events.
But then sometimes, you get Amir Khan vs Dimitry Salita, or David Haye vs Audley Harrison, and the entire show seems like a money grabbing opportunity.
What of Tony Bellew vs Nathan Cleverly fighting on PPV then? Three years ago, both men fought each other on the then fledgling BoxNation channel, with two undefeated records on the line, and a world title up for grabs. The cost? £10 for a monthly subscription to the channel. Now, for £16.95, we have two boxers fighting at a higher weight class, with no titles here or on the horizon, and both just two fights removed from devastating knockout defeats.
Bellew holds two inflatable plastic sheep at the weigh-inAn undercard of excellence was promised, but instead has delivered eight fights where if you were to put a ten pound accumulator bet including each favourite to win, you would earn just £3.75 and your stake back, a return that wouldn’t even enable you to make back the cost of paying for the PPV in the first place.
From the perspective of value for money, this card certainly doesn’t offer that, but the consistent hype of the main event has piqued the interest of many, and it isn’t hard to see why. In boxing, as in all sports, characters matter, and Bellew (22-2-1) has certainly created a Marmite persona over the past few months, while Cleverly (28-1) has seemed more relaxed in the build-up.
The fight is full of questions, with nobody really sure the answers just yet. This will be the third fight at Cruiserweight for both men, and the 200lb opposition of both men has been fairly substandard so far. Who truly is the more natural man at the weight? Has Nathan Cleverly fully exercised the demons of his savage knockout defeat to Sergey Kovalev last year, and does Bellew truly believe he belongs at the world-class level after his lacklustre performance against Adonis Stevenson?
Cleverly has offered his opinion that Bellew will ‘crumble’ in the ring, while the brash Liverpudlian Bellew has consistently maintained that his Welsh rival is set for a ‘devastating’ defeat. The first fight between the two was a fairly cagey affair, with Cleverly winning a majority decision, and the rivalry has grown ever more since that night in Liverpool.
The bookies can’t separate the two, with both hovering around the 10/11 margin, while the draw could tempt some punters at at 22/1. One thing is for sure, if the fight was on regular Sky Sports, the anticipation amongst both pugilistic patrons and casual fans alike would be much greater.
An undercard that features the likes of Scott Quigg, James DeGale, George Groves and Anthony Joshua would usually indicate some exciting action, but all bar DeGale are in very average bouts.
Quigg defends his WBA super bantamweight title against Japan’s Hidenori Otake, Groves faces America’s Denis Douglin, Joshua is in a mis-match against Michael Sprott, while DeGale faces former world title challenger Marco Antonio Periban.
Elsewhere, Jamie McDonnell faces late replacement Javier Chacon for the WBA Bantamweight title, Callum Smith is against Nikola Sjekloca, and Bradley Saunders makes his debut for Matchroom.
Source The Independent
Should Cleverly v Bellew be PPV?