Lessons Need To Be Learnt After Amir Khan Pay Per View Cancellation

While no public announcement has been made its clear that Amir Khan’s fourth defense of his WBA Light-Welterweight Title is no longer being shown on pay per view but instead on Sky Sports 3, with Sky’s own betting website being the first official confirmation from the broadcaster. This is an embarrassing reversal for Khan Promotions in their first attempt to put on a show independently with Khan’s fights having previously been successfully promoted by Frank Warren or Golden Boy.

From the beginning the April 16th show attracted criticism after many boxing fans were mistakenly led to believe by David Haye that Sky rejected holding Wladimir Klitschko vs. David Haye on April 30th due to not wanting to broadcast two pay per views so close together. This problems were added to by an unsatisfactory matchmaking process that seemingly saw Khan try to get a challenger on the cheap as his management publicly argued with the likes of Lamont Peterson, Paul McCloskey and Brendis Prescott. They were only able to secure an opponent when they made an improved offer to McCloskey.

With the fight booked it seemed that the planning for the event was going smoothly with brisk ticket sales at the Manchester Evening News Arena but in the past few weeks it has ran into problems with the undercard. First Matthew Macklin against Khoren Gevor and Gavin Rees against Anthony Crolla were cancelled and then attempts to replace those fights with Tyson Fury vs. Hashim Rahman collapsed. This left Khan’s partner Hatton Promotions struggling to persuade Sky that last minute bouts featuring British circuit fighters were worthy of the event’s pay per view status. Unconvinced Sky made the unprecedented decision to cancel the pay per view just eight days before fight day and make the main event available to all its sport subscribers.

Understandably reports are surfacing of the WBA Light-Welterweight Champion being furious with Sky’s decision, a move that could cost Khan £1million! As of yet there has been no official announcement of the cancellation of the pay per view with Sky Sport’s boxing magazine show Ringside studiously not mentioning the channel the fight would be broadcast on while previewing the bout.  What’s more a press conference involving Khan scheduled for today was cancelled, apparently “as his lawyers investigated what course of action to take”.

The simple truth of the matter is that Khan is the first victim of what has become an unsustainable business model in the UK. Fuelled by the fortune Ricky Hatton made as a draw on Sky Box Office a divide has grown between the world class British fighters that can headline UK pay per views and the domestic level fighters that are needed to make up the undercards. Today the likes of David Haye, Amir Khan and increasingly Carl Froch all effectively self promote themselves in the UK, looking to work with local promoters such as Hatton Promotions to put the undercards. This has however become increasingly difficult as more and more of the top domestic talent has signed up with Frank Warren, the most successful promoter on the British scene.

The problem is that neither side is strong enough to thrive without the other. With the exception of Haye against the right opponent, nobody in Britain can draw big PPV numbers with one match cards while Warren likes the proven champions to give his critically acclaimed events the marketable main event they need to attract casual fans. Take this the past couple of weeks, if Frank Warren and Amir Khan had been working together as they successfully did for the December 4th show that saw James DeGale vs. Paul Smith in the UK act as chief support to the Las Vegas clash between Amir Khan and Marcos Maidana then this sorry mess would never have happened. At the very least Warren would have been able  to provide Khan with unbeaten Mancunian John Murray and popular Scottish world champion Ricky Burns to fight on the PPV’s undercard instead of having Murray fight in London last week and Burn fight in an half-empty Glasgow arena last month. By working together not only would the fans have got a better event but Sky Sports, Amir Khan and Frank Warren would all have made more money and better exposed the sport to casual fans. Its time for Sky to show proper leadership and get all of British boxing to work together.

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