Boxing: Frank Maloney performs retirement u-turn


Click to follow
The Independent Online

In a typically honest and fierce revelation, Frank Maloney has revealed he has undertaken a dramatic change of heart in his decision to retire from boxing after rediscovering his hunger following the painful loss of his Sky Sports television deal.

Subsequent to the traumas of the emotional fallout from the inquest into 2008 Olympian Darren Sutherland's suicide, an episode Maloney labelled a "witch hunt", the boxing promoter decided he had had enough of the sport and would retire in 2015. Since then, however, and after Sky Sports' unexpected decision to opt against renewing his contract, Maloney has typically chosen to fight on and strive for further success.

"I'd been with Sky for 23 years, so it was a real kick in the teeth and I actually took my rejection from them very personally," Maloney said. "I can't believe it happened - I've always been loyal, I've always delivered for Sky. I've had a few bad nights - everyone has - but when I've had to deliver the fights, I've delivered. I know Sky have changed their format and view on boxing and, I believe, cut their sports' budget, and I was one of the ones that got caught up in the politics.

"I went with Sky when they first went to air against everyone's advice when everyone told me I was wrong. I could have done a deal with Barry Hearn to put Lennox Lewis on ITV, but I wanted to be independent and do it my way. It's ironic that Sky now tell me to do a deal with his son, Eddie Hearn. What he knows about boxing I could put on a postage stamp and still sign my name under it."

British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion David Price is Maloney's greatest prospect, one he believes he can guide to the same heights he did undisputed world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. Sky - largely at Maloney's expense - had hoped to continue showing Price's career under the Hearns' TV deal which, unlike Ricky Hatton's and Maloney's, continues, though the latter is adamant that that will not be the case and in fact appears most likely to sign a deal with BoxNation.

"I was looking to finish after guiding David Price," Maloney admits. "I'd already told Sky that I was considering only working for another two or three years with Price, and I suppose I might have taken my eye off the ball, but this has certainly made me realise that there's not many boxing people left in the sport, so I've decided to postpone my retirement.

"I kept Lewis with Sky against all odds; even when we lost purse bids, I managed to re-negotiate to get the rights so I could give them to Sky. Boxing's been my life. It's given me some bad moments, moments to reflect on my life. The one thing I realise is that this is not the time to walk away from boxing - friends told me I'd have been a fool if I did. I'm going to announce a TV deal within the next week, and then I believe it becomes a whole new playing field.

"What I'm finding is that fighters are listening to other fighters. Certain promoters are using fighters to get to them - buttering them up and making them promises. When those fighters have got no use the promoters will drop them. The grass always looks greener on the other side, but I know from experience that it isn't.

"If I'd had known Hearn would be the only one to stay with Sky, and if they'd had the decency to tell me before I'd done my final show in Aintree [when Price became British and Commonwealth champion], I would have worked within the proper budget. But they tricked me. I accept that's business but they should have told me before. If they had, I'd have done the show within the proper budget I'd set aside.

"I delivered Paul Ingle's world title to Sky, Scott Harrison's, I delivered some great title fights for them. But I'm back. I would hate to walk away from this sport and hand it over to people that know nothing about it.

"Where I went wrong is I was in a comfort zone with the security from Sky. When that was taken away from me, it really woke me up. The only thing that's certain in this world is you're going to die. I feel now the way I felt 27 years ago. I really don't want to go out on this note, I want to go out on the top.

"The Darren Sutherland thing totally threw me, I just couldn't deal with it. I don't know how a man in his prime can do what he did. That took a long time to get over. I had a great support from friends and fighters around me, and especially my family. They got me through some difficult times.

"But I'm now looking forward to a new era, and I'm sure I'll be celebrating my time in boxing for a lot longer than some other people that have come into the sport."