It's a dog's life! Ricky blasts Sky's reluctance to back Hatton Promotions
22:07 GMT, 30 April 2012
Pugnacious is the only word to describe Ricky Hatton's riposte to Sky's failure to renew their contract to televise the fight promotions with which he is quite brilliantly inventing a life in boxing after retiring from the ring.
'If you want loyalty buy a dog,' he tweeted.
Typically pugnacious. Perfectly understandable, too, since Sky had the best of his Pied Piper career, including his epic world title win over Kostya Tszyu and his kamikaze assaults on pound-for-pound kings Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
Shooting from the lip: Ricky Hatton is now a successful promoter
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Not only that but Sky's last screening of a Hatton promotion, at least in the foreseeable future, will be the show which promises to be a vital stepping stone for the cream of his fighters towards world titles and perhaps future stardom.
Topping the bill at the Manchester Velodrome on June 16 will be the most likely of all Ricky's lads, British champion Scott Quigg, in a battle with the re-born former Commonwealth and European champion Rendall Munroe for the interim WBA super-bantamweight title.
With unbeaten heavyweight Richard Towers bidding for the European belt and Martin Murray champing for another world middleweight title shot after being robbed by Felix Sturm in Germany, Hatton confidently expected Sky to back him into the future.
But boxing is rarely that straightforward. While the Hitman's angst with Sky is unsurprising it is just as likely that Frank Warren, the promoter with whom he fell out as a fighter, has damaged Hatton's TV deal, albeit inadvertently.
It is Warren's launch of his dedicated BoxNation channel which appears to have obliged Sky to rethink their boxing strategy.
There is a perception that Sky – already massively committed to football – are having to divert more of their financial resources into other sports, notably their acquisition of Formula One with its own dedicated channel.
But that is only part of the story.
Warren's ambitious BoxNation project includes securing the rights for
huge fights abroad involving some of the world's most famous fighters.
TV gold: Ricky Hatton's fight with Kostya Tszyu in 2005
Klitschko-Chisora is being followed onto that 10 a month subscription channel by such highlights as Hopkins-Dawson last Saturday night, Mayweather-Cotto this coming weekend, probably with Pacquiao-Bradley to come in June.
Sky still have Khan-Peterson and Froch-Bute – both major world titles bouts – coming up. But where once they exercised a virtual monopoly, it now looks very much as if they need to free up funding to compete for the big events around the world.
While their split from Hatton, who had given them so much of himself, is bound to rouse the emotions there can be no denying that it is Sky who have kept boxing alive with the telly-viewing public in recent years.
The virtual withdrawal of the terrestrial broadcasters left Sky to carry the flag for up-and-coming British boxers, while also bringing the biggest fights to the small screen.
It's a knockout: Manny Pacquiao v Hatton was watched by a huge TV audience
They made multi-millionaires of the stars – Hatton included – with their pay-per-view transmissions.
That bonanza was scuppered by David Haye's non-fight with Audley Harrison and virtual no-show against Wladimir Klitschko.
As Sky re-group after those fiascos their dilemma is how to balance their support for grass roots boxing with the need to attract the global super-stars.
Programmes full of young hopefuls cannot draw the required audiences unless they are hooked onto the glamour of the Pacquiaos, Mayweathers and Klitschkos.
The irony is that if the Hitman were still fighting he could name his own price for a Sky contract.
The world was watching: Floyd Mayweather beat Hatton in Las Vegas
The danger to televised boxing is that it will disappear from the mainstream altogether unless Sky can rationalise their coverage – and that means reducing their current high volume of fight dates in favour of big box-office events.
It is a Catch 22 situation in which one of the best loved of all British fighters finds himself trapped.
Perhaps only for the time being, since the nature of boxing politics is such that if and when one or more of Hatton's protges hits the big-time he and Sky are likely to find themselves back at the negotiating table – with no hard feelings.
It is ironic, also, that if it were not for this upset Sky could do much worse than add Ricky Hatton to their ringside commentary team.
If you want a quick-witted, sharp-tongued, razor-funny analyst who shoots from the lip, hire the Hitman.
Haye to face the music
If David Haye imagined he was off the hook for his part in the Munich brawl with Dereck Chisora, it appears he was mistaken.
After a delay due to the protocol involved in seeking official British permission to interview Britain's former world heavyweight champion, the Munich police are now collecting witness statements from all those present at the media conference which degenerated into shameful scenes following Chisora's world heavyweight title defeat by Vitali Klitschko in February.
Chisora was arrested, questioned and released without charge that night but Haye fled Munich on a dawn flight while police were arriving at his hotel.
The investigation is on-going into the provocative taunting between Haye and Chisora.
Off the hook Haye hasn't escaped punishment for his brawl with Chisora
Since none of the many photographs or film show Chisora striking out, the police inquiries appear to focus now on Haye punching his fellow Londoner while clutching a bottle in his hand, then swinging a metal camera tripod at opposing trainer Don Charles but missing and striking his own manager Adam Booth in the head.
Chisora has been suspended indefinitely by the British Boxing Board of Control for his abuse of Klitschkko and his brother Wladimir before the fight, as well as the subsequent fracas.
He is appealing. Haye, who is seeking a money-making bout with Vitali despite being officially retired, is expected to face sanction if he applies for a renewal of his license.
No Hopkins clash for Cleverly
Nathan Cleverly's hopes of a championship unification mega-fight with Bernard Hopkins in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium this summer were scuppered on Saturday night as the veteran American legend lost his version of the world light heavyweight title in his re-match with Chad Dawson.
Hopkins, until then boxing's oldest world champion, is considering retirement.
Although a fight with his conqueror would also be a draw in Cleverly's Welsh homeland, Dawson is reported to be seeking a catch-weight money-maker with Andre Ward, whose victory over Nottingham Cobra Carl Froch added the WBC world super-middleweight title to his WBA belt.
Froch, also mentioned as a potential foe for Cleverly, is busy preparing for his May 26 challenge in Nottingham to IBF super-middleweight champion Lucien Bute.
Fortunately, as the youngest of all the stars in that mix, Cleverly can afford to be patient.
Scuppered: Hopkins lost his title to Dawson in Atlantic City on Saturday
Joe Frazier's gym up for sale
As television gets ready to pay another tribute to Joe Frazier, so the news comes that his fabled Whitehouse Gymnasium in Philadelphia, which later became his ramshackle home, is to be sold off for almost a million dollars.
When Frazier died towards the end of last year fans place teddy bears outside the building on North Broad Street, even though it had been converted into a bedding factory outlet store years earlier.
Frazier, who needed the proceeds to live, received significantly less from that first sale than the $990,000 (610,000) now being asked for the property on Craigslist.
The poignancy which has surrounded Frazier's death – with his great old foe Muhammad Ali defying his Parkinson's affliction to attend his funeral – continues.
Mourning: Ali attended Frazier's funeral earlier this year
Smokin' Joe was due to attend the first screening of a new film about his life – When The Smoke Clears – on the day he passed away.
That documentary airs here on ESPN Classic on the evening of Saturday week, May 12, and is bracketed between re-runs of the two epic battles in his trilogy with Ali, The Fight of the Century and The Thrilla in Manilla.
Frazier says in the movie: 'Ali He wasn't a fighter, he was a boxer.' Never a truer word from beyond the grave. It was that contrast which made their rivalry so glorious.