Boxing on the Internet

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Online coverage of boxing on this side of the Atlantic has generally been sketchier than in America. However, the past 18 months or so has seen a considerable amount of catching up, with promoters taking a professional interest in the new media.

Earlier this month, the week before Lennox Lewis was stripped of his World Boxing Association title, World-Boxing.com - the latest site to bear the name of the promoter Frank Warren - was launched. Unsurprisingly, there is a fair amount of coverage of the Lewis case, but plenty of other topical fight-related news too.

For anyone wanting to get the news before it appears in print, the press release section from Sports Network at World-Boxing.com will be an immediate draw. Plans for the future might be even more enticing. QuickTime 4 multimedia clips are already in place, such as Joe Calzaghe demonstrating the art of shadow boxing. The same technology will be used for press conferences and weigh-ins, and ultimately for live fight webcasts. Although the quality from QuickTime here is streets ahead of the video quality used by many sites, it is still too slow for typical home users to enjoy. With the advent of cheap and reliable broadband internet connections, in a couple of years it could become the ultimate draw for sports web sites.

Statistics, including a roster of all the champions broken down by awarding organisation and weight division, give a snapshot of the current state of the sport. The "fight facts" section helps develop a picture of the past with access to some lesser-known statistics, such as which world champions have had brothers who have also been world champions.

An earlier site with Warren's name featured prominently on the front page is World Boxing, hosted on the Sporting Life site. It is not dissimilar to the new site in content or design. If connections to World-Boxing.com are slow, it is worth noting as an alternative for news stories and stats.

Another promoter with an eye to fight webcasts is Frank Maloney. Last week, his promotion from the New Connaught Rooms in London was billed as the first live world championship over the internet when Zolille Mbityl was due to defend his International Boxing Organisation world flyweight title against Sandro Oviedo.

By all accounts (my RealPlayer software could not establish any sort of connection) it was a typical live streaming video non-event. Speed is the main limitation - even live audio commentary often stretches the network too far. Live video of even the most rudimentary quality does not stand a chance over standard phone lines yet. However, the incorporation of live betting buttons, and access to statistics and other features such as chat forums, does give Fightnight.com spectators who manage to connect other things to do while waiting for the video feed and points to how webcasts will develop when new phone-line technology is rolled out. Details of future schedules will be posted online for those who want to be early adapters in the field. Once-a-month title bouts are slated initially, moving to a schedule of once a week.

andy.oldfield@virgin.net

Site Addresses

World-boxing.com http://www.world-boxing.com/

World Boxing www.sporting-life.com/worldboxing/

Fightnight.com www.fightnight.com/

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