Calzaghe and Delaney test television market


Barry Hearn yesterday implored terrestrial television to step up its boxing coverage, with the warning: "If the young fighters don't get terrestrial exposure to a wide audience, boxing is doomed."

Hearn believes that the Joe Calzaghe-Mark Delaney British super-middleweight title fight at the Brentwood International Centre on 20 April is the type of good quality attraction to bring major boxing back to terrestrial television. ITV recently changed its stance and declared its intention to show only the "blockbusting" fights, but they will show the bout of the big 12st punchers, although it will be screened late and delayed until after the evening's film.

"It's fights like this which are the meaningful matches, which excite people, and may convince the powers that be at ITV to stick with boxing," the promoter said. "Here you have two young fighters aiming for the stars, both carrying punching power, both undefeated, both of whom are very marketable. We like Saturday night fights, and we want them live."

Calzaghe has nine first-round stoppages in a perfect 16-fight record, while Delaney is unbeaten in 21 bouts, with 13 wins inside the first three rounds.

Delaney thinks the fact that he has been the 12-round distance in three of his last four contests, all World Organisation Inter-Continental title fights wil count in his favour. "If it gets to nine or 10 rounds, I'll know what it's like, what to expect. Joe has been eight rounds once," said Delaney, 25, from West Ham. "Joe came into professional boxing as a star, a triple ABA champion, so he got the attention. When I take his title, I'll be the one getting the attention."

If Delaney wins, Hearn plans to move him into a world title position within a year, while Calzaghe's co-managers, Mickey Duff and Terry Lawless, are looking ahead to a European title bout.