Warren signs for Sky

BOXING
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The Independent Online
Sky yesterday strengthened its grip on televised sport in Britain when it announced a two-year deal involving every fighter in the Frank Warren stable.

The contract gives Sky access to some of the biggest names in the domestic game, including Frank Bruno, Nigel Benn and Naseem Hamed. It could also give the satellite station the biggest prize in world boxing: Warren has promotional links with Don King, who will promote Mike Tyson's fights when the former world champion makes his long-awaited return to the ring.

No figures have been released for the deal, but it is almost certainly the biggest in the history of televised British boxing. If Tyson were included it is believed the deal could be worth up to £50m.

BBC and ITV have been left behind by the deal. Chris Eubank and Herbie Hide may have lost their world titles, but as they set about retrieving them they, too, are already committed to Sky via their promotional deals with Barry Hearn.

Sky's chief executive, Sam Chisholm, was understandably full of a deal that brings with it a strong supporting cast of fighters, including Steve Robinson, Colin McMillan and Robbie Regan, who launches the new deal with his challenge for the World Boxing Organisation world flyweight championship held by Alberto Jimenez. "In one knock-out blow, to use sporting parlance, we have brought all of the biggest names in boxing over to Sky Sports. The television ratings of the past few years have proved that these are the men that the public wants to see," he said.

Sky's ever-expanding sports portfolio, which provides 200 hours of television per week across two channels, now offers a wide choice of sports. Sky already has major deals in football and club rugby and this year they will also be the only channel with live coverage of the Texaco Trophy one-day cricket internationals, rugby union's Pilkington Cup final and golf's Ryder Cup. It has also had live coverage of England winter cricket tours in recent years.

It is the senior partner in the £304m, five-year deal with the FA Premier League, of which the BBC has a share. The BBC can show a live FA Cup tie from each round, but from the Premiership only highlights.

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