Inside Lines: TV or not TV? That is boxing's burning question

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The Independent Online

The fact that unbeaten Carl Froch, the World Boxing Council super-middleweight champion, supposedly the most authentic of the alphabet soup of world titles, cannot get a major channel to televise his defence against Mikkel Kessler in Denmark on 24 April (it will be shown on the little-known pay-per-view outlet Primetime TV) is a sure indication that boxing on the box may be facing a bleak future. Of course there will always be screen time for Sky blockbusters like last night's Haye-Ruiz fight, or those involving a Pacquiao or a Mayweather, but with budgets tighter than ever it seems the sport could be marginalised. This is also evidenced by Amir Khan's US debut against American Paulie Malignaggi proving a hard sell to British TV. The New York bout takes place in the early hours of the morning here on Sunday 16 May and so far the only likely takers are ITV, who may show it live on ITV4. Khan's new backers, Golden Boy, are so keen for him to be seen by a British audience that we hear ITV have been offered the fight for nothing.

Playing the political game

They tell us the forthcoming election could be won on personalities, which may be why the main parties are seeking endorsements from stars of sport and showbiz. A quick survey suggests both Labour and Conservative will be calling on sporting nobility: Sir Alex Ferguson and Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson are dyed-in-the-red Labour supporters, while Tory blue bloods are Sir Ian Botham and Dame Kelly Holmes, who is actively backing their sports agenda. Sir Steve Redgrave is an equally active supporter of Government sports policies while the Stoke striker James Beattie is the only Premier League footballer to "come out" politically – he is backing the Tories. So are any sports figures ready to wear the Lib Dem rosette? No doubt their able sports spokesman Don Foster – a sort of Vince Cable of sports politics – will be delighted to hear from them.

Bubka in pole position

From real politics to sports politics: It is no secret that Lord Sebastian Coe, who has a foot in both camps, has ambitions to become president of the International Association of Athletics Federations. But the London 2012 chief has an ominously serious rival in fellow Olympic legend Sergei Bubka. The Ukrainian, Olympic champion in 1988 and still the holder of the world pole vault record, is fast becoming a major player in global sports administration. A high-profile member of the International Olympic Committee already, he chairs the commission which is overseeing the Youth Olympics in Singapore this summer and has just been appointed to head another looking at the role of agents, coaches and doctors in relation to doping. At 46, he is being talked about as a future IOC president but meantime he is expected to run for the IAAF presidency next year. Seb may have to rediscover the turn of speed which earned him two Olympic golds if he is to pip Bubka to the post.

Russian retribution

Not content with sacking several sports officials after the country's worst Winter Olympics since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia's president Dmitry Medvedev is now threatening to bring criminal charges against them for not using Government money properly in the team's preparation. Just like the good old days, eh tovarich?

insidelines@independent.co.uk

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