By Yousuf Ali
It was recently announced that WBC International featherweight champion Josh Warrington will sign for Frank Warren’s Queensbury Promotions. The relationship between Josh and Matchroom Boxing seemed to be extremely beneficial in respect to both parties, with Warrington steadily moving up the WBC rankings as well as gaining great exposure; additionally Eddie Hearn was frequently selling out arenas producing a “great atmosphere”. Therefore such a decision came as a shock to the British boxing scene. However, how much will this decision affect Warrington, Matchroom and Queensbury?
There have been a number of reasons put forward by Hearn, Steve Wood and Frank Warren in regard to why Warrington decided to leave Matchroom, irrespective of them there will be undoubted disadvantages in leaving Europe’s biggest promoter. It is evident that the Matchroom and Sky brand is important in not only obtaining invaluable exposure but also in driving ticket sales, illustrated by the Leeds arena being frequently sold out. In comparison Warren has shown an inability to sell out an arena, of substantial size, since Saunders vs Eubank, there will be an inevitable drop in ticket sales with Warren promoting the show. Additionally by moving over to Boxnation, Warrington will lose the backing of Sky sports that are pivotal in the success of Hearn’s promotions, as reflected in viewing figures, purses and ticket sales. Although some may argue that Warren’s recent move to BT Sport will provide an equal alternative to Sky sports, the lack of boxing experience from BT and no a channel like Sky sports news means that such a move is littered with risk. Therefore it is evident that there a great deal of advantages in staying with Matchroom, although it is naïve to state that it is the only option as there are some limiting factors in being promoted by Hearn.
It is clear that the opponents Warrington was facing were lacking in excitement and skill; with Joel Brunker and Patrick Hyland being obvious examples. There is a tendency for Hearn to fail in bringing over world class opponents that test his fighters before they challenge for world titles, Stephen Smith being the current apparent example. Despite Hearn failing to bring over world class opponents that would really test Warrington and create excitement, he did offer Warrington a shot at Lee Selby. Warrington, Steve Wood and Warrington’s father ought to take a great deal of blame for turning this fight down; after calling out Selby for over a year they bottled it when Hearn offered them the fight in July, absolutely disgraceful (rant over). Consequently sympathy ought to be given to Hearn who has offered Warrington’s team the Selby fight; perhaps this was the start of the deterioration of Hearn and Warrington’s team relationship.
On the other hand Warren has a great opportunity to build boxing in Yorkshire and use Warrington as headliner in order to build his fighters, such as Tyrone Nurse, on the undercard. It is accurate to state that Leeds may be the most likely place for Warren to finally sell a reasonable amount of tickets and coupled with the partnership with BT sport, may result in greater revenue being generated in turn leading to some big name opponents travelling to the UK to face the Leeds warrior. Warrington is also inline for a WBC final eliminator against Joseph Diaz, which would be the perfect fight to both test Warrington and move him in the right direction in terms of fulfilling his ambitions to become a world champion. One hopes that Warren will be able to put on some big shows in Leeds, where Josh Warrington is able to fully test his abilities and perhaps even become world champion.
Follow Yousuf @boxingubanter
You may also enjoy this article by Steven Donnell —> Alexander Povetkin’s Russian freak show
Photo Credits: Sky Sports & Matchroom Sports