In The Dark: Are British Boxing Fans Under-Served By Television Broadcasters?

British fight fans will miss out on a WBC super featherweight title clash this weekend
16:00, 08 Feb 2023

You’ve got a Sky Sports subscription and a BT Sport package. You have been a subscriber to DAZN since day one, and have stuck by them despite the price increase they announced on Monday. The bump will take them to £19.99 a month for a “flexible pass”, a tenfold increase on their introductory price of £1.99. But along with Channel 5, this pricey collection of subscriptions will keep you across all the boxing broadcast in the UK. The trouble is, despite the high financial outlay involved, this still won’t get you everything.

Of course it’s greedy to expect every single boxing match in existence to make it to broadcast television. No matter how much fans line the pockets of television corporations, we are never getting fights with 50-capacity crowds from a barn in Chattanooga beamed into our homes. But some very big fights have eluded our shores altogether.


This weekend, two-weight world champion Rey Vargas faces O'Shaquie Foster for the vacant WBC super featherweight title. This isn’t some obscure, low-level match-up. It features an unbeaten world champion continuing his journey. This is not some barn in Chattanooga either. The Alamodome in Texas will play host to the bout. The 64,000 seater amphitheatre likely won’t be full for the clash, but it’s still emblematic of the sort of prestige this bout is being held in.

Yet there is no legal means for boxing-mad Brits to watch the featherweight attraction. It’s a sad state of affairs, but not a new one. In December, there was an even more egregious blackout for a world title bout. Ellesmere Port’s Paul Butler went to Japan to defend his WBO bantamweight championship. His opponent was the fearsome, undefeated Naoya Inoue. One of the pound-for-pound best on the planet, the Japanese fighter’s status as WBC, IBF and WBA champion meant the bout was an undisputed title clash. 

A historic fight and a British boxer facing one of the best of the era? This match-up had everything you’d want from a televised attraction, yet nobody picked it up on these shores. Not even Sky Sports, who have the rights to Top Rank in this country, would show the fight despite Inoue being promoted by Bob Arum’s company. It was a truly baffling oversight.


Why does Britain get short-changed so often? Outside of America, there may be no greater boxing hotbed. No nation in which so many big fight occasions are staged. Where tens of thousands of fans fill stadiums for fights or where buoyant singing reverberates around sold out arenas so often. Boxing is thriving in Britain, so there’s no excuse for major fights not being televised here.

There are two possible solutions to this problem. One is the ever-expanding list of places to watch boxing increases once again. We end up with another channel picking up these stray fights and most probably charging a subscription premium for the privilege of watching them. Alternatively, a more acceptable solution would involve the current crop of broadcasters. 

Apart from Channel 5, these corporations take a hefty chunk of money from devoted fans. They can be using some of those profits to bring a better pugilistic offering. Nobody is asking for obscure small hall shows from far-flung places. But world title fights should not be taking place with a UK blackout. British fighters like Paul Butler embarking on exciting foreign assignments should not be doing so without his home fans being able to watch. There is an appetite for boxing in this country, you only need to look at the crowds it draws to see that. It’s time that the very companies who so freely raise their prices give the fans paying them more bang for their buck.

vargas vs foster fight betting*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

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