Sport on TV: Maloney, baloney and the hard sell

FORGET Eubank v Benn. The key fight this week took place in BBC 1's Sportsnight studio. In the blue corner, the boxing manager Frank Maloney, several thousand pounds heavier after last weekend's Bruno-Lewis bout. Opposite him, the challenger - plucky Des Lynam from Shepherd's Bush, not a scrapper by nature but going into this one with a bit of a grudge.

Was it right, Lynam asked Maloney, to sell the television rights to a major British sporting event like Bruno v Lewis, not to the BBC or ITV, but to Sky, where 'the mass of the British public did not get a chance to see it'? And before Maloney could parry, Lynam followed up with a cheeky one to the kidneys: 'It's right for your bank balance . . .'

Not so much as a flinch from Maloney. Of course it was right, he said: 'Sky came to us with such a good offer.' Somehow, you felt, the broader issue was being missed here. Lynam moved in again, arguing along the lines that, even if the poverty-stricken BBC could only stump up a book token and a Grandstand sweat- shirt, there were surely compensations for the fighters - such as the opportunity to perform where the nation could see them and learn about them. Maloney would have none of it. Sky paid more, and what's national interest when set against hard cash?

When the priorities of people like Frank Maloney have finally reduced terrestrial sports coverage to a handful of amateur golf tournaments and a monthly schools athletics round-up, all that will be left for the BBC and ITV is previewing. Still, at least this is something Sportsnight does well. Last Wednesday's schedules offered the programme nothing more stimulating than results from some rather flat Coca-Cola Cup ties and one grim and rainy rugby league match. Yet Sportsnight contrived to appear action-packed simply by looking ahead. We got a preview of the Netherlands v England football match and an analysis of next year's heavyweight bouts, some of which - who knows? - the BBC might be able to afford.

Actually, 'analysis' may be the wrong word. Lennox Lewis was in the studio for this segment, in a pair of shades and a terrifyingly loud shirt. How did he see his chances against Tommy Morrison? 'I just see myself knocking out Morrison,' he said, seated but still managing to roll his shoulders like someone coming out for Round One. And Riddick Bowe? 'I'm 20 times better,' said Lewis. We're used to boxers getting psyched up and lippy in the days before fights. But for merely hypothetical bouts? Months away? Lewis represents the new breed - permanently hyped, dangerously primed. 'People stop me on the street and say, 'You're terrific' ,' he added, inconsequentially. Then he plugged his new autobiography. The meek shall inherit the earth, but they shall have walked off with precious few WBC titles.

Contrast the tone of the Netherlands v England preview. It's odd to find oneself commending footballers for decorum, but at least, in this context, they allow the old- fashioned possibility that the opposition might present something of a challenge. The Dutch star Frank Rijkaard appeared with his striking coiffure - not so much a hairdo as a burst bag of pasta spirals - and confessed that the Netherlands were always nervous about England. Given that, as he spoke, the best part of England's strikeforce was hobbling about in casualty wards up and down the land, the possibility lingered that this was some sort of elaborate Dutch tease. But he certainly sounded sincere, concluding with the remark, 'The ball is round, as we say in Holland.' Good point.

Meanwhile, over on a similarly preview-laden Carlton Sport (ITV, Wednesday), the week ahead was sounding pretty Biblical. Assuming you got through 'Judgement Day' (last night's Benn and Eubank fight), you can now make 'a date with destiny' (The Netherlands v England). If you had a pound for every time the presenter Matthew Lorenzo mentioned that this game would be 'live and exclusive and FREE on ITV', you would probably have enough to outbid the channel for the rights. Under pressure from Sky, terrestrial telly is talking itself up like a boxer. These days, it's what costs nothing that gets the hardest sell.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Wes Brown is sent-off
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower