Inside Lines: It's gloves off as boxing's battle of the box reaches for Sky


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The Independent Online

BoxNation, the new all-boxing TV channel, has come out fighting in a bid to challenge Sky's small screen domination of the sport by beating them to the punch to scoop live coverage of the return of five-weight world champion Floyd Mayweather Jnr against Miguel Cotto from Las Vegas on 5 May.

By then the Frank Warren-backed station hopes to have a break-even figure of 60,000 subscribers following exclusive coverage of last night's world heavyweight title fight between Vitali Klitschko and Dereck Chisora in Munich. There might have been speculation that Chisora's stupid face-slapping incident at the weigh-in was a premeditated publicity stunt to put more bums on armchairs but this I doubt, knowing the flakiness of the man.

BoxNation's battle to establish itself is aided by Sky's reluctance to put more fights on pay-per-view following David Haye's embarrassing excursions against Audley Harrison and Wladimir Klitschko.

Having shown five world title fights already this year BoxNation will double that in the coming months, beginning next Saturday with unbeaten Nathan Cleverly's defence of his WBO light-heavyweight belt against American Tommy Karpency at Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena (Sky platform 456, Virgin 546). Maths graduate Cleverly is labelled Britain's brainiest boxer, though he recently ducked a challenge to a maths test with TV presenter Carol Vorderman, an honorary fellow of Cardiff University where he graduated.

Cleverly claimed he had not had time to swot up on his maths but has invited the former Countdown star to be at ringside where at least she can check the scorecards.

Olympic cash machines

Tom Daley's pre-Olympic Games commitments are causing concern. The teenage synchro diving prodigy competes in the Fina World Cup this week but has been told by British Diving's performance director Alexei Evangulov to cut down on media and sponsorship appearances if he wants to win a 2012 medal.

Daley denies any conflict of interests but there are others seem to be spending as much time on the catwalk and other commercial activities as in preparing for their events. Agents are encouraging them to cash in on deals before the Games, where, as we revealed recently, a gold medal will be worth up to £2 million in endorsements.

Seems a new event has been added to the Games build-up – the commercial tug-of-war.

Sam plays it again

It is always heartening to report that this column has helped do someone a good turn. Last year we highlighted the plight of Sam Lowe, one of Britain's leading judo exponents, who lost her place on the Olympic squad – and her Lottery funding – after an assortment of injuries which included a fractured collar bone and snapped knee ligaments.

But instead of simply giving up, the doughty Commonwealth Games champion embarked on a personal fund-raising programme by giving coaching classes to kids, motivational talks and working part-time in a hotel to pay her own way to qualifying competitions. So I am delighted to report that Sam, 30, is back on the list of contenders for Team GB at London 2012 and is competing in a World Cup event in Poland this weekend.

Wish her luck. She deserves it.

Ladies first for Seb

According to Lord Coe, one of the outstanding legacies of the Olympics will be the increasing dominance of women in British sport.

The Games chief reveals that 54 per cent of the Organising Committee's total workforce of 70,000 is female and that London 2012 has already written its own place in Olympic history by putting women in control of five key departments, including directors of sport and communications.

"Women in leadership roles has never been an alien concept for me," adds the former Tory MP. "After all, my political landscape, for 20 years, was dominated by a woman..."