The fight game, particularly the pro game outside of Belfast, has been forced to struggle without the power and influence that television brings since RTÉ brought boxing to the masses in the Bernard Dunne days.
The national broadcaster pulled in massive viewing figures back in the Dublin super bantamweights reign and gave boxing the kind of exposure most fight fans argue it both deserves and warrants.
TV3 did dip their toe in the water and RTÉ also aired fight nights including the likes of Andy Lee, Willie Casey and Paul Hyland around the turn of the decade, but a boxing on terrestrial TV has been agonisingly absent since Henry Coyle’s win over Elio Cotena, live on Irish-language station TG4, back in August of 2011.
However, Irish-Boxing.com can exclusively reveal that terrestrial will return to the game this Spring.
In what is fitting circularity, TG4 have decided to pick up the eagerly anticipated Ireland’s Last Man Standing card.
The Prizefighter-style format seems to have convinced the powers that be within the broadcaster to air what promises to be an exciting fight night and their cameras will be present at the National Stadium on Saturday March 3rd.
In what is another other positive Irish-Boxing.com can confirm that the card will be broadcast live with TV coverage starting at 8:15pm, meaning peak time coverage for the card, the competition, and the sport.
The promoters of the show Assassin and Red Corner Promotions wouldn’t comment past “we hope to confirm a television link up very soon,” but Irish-boxing.com believes the agreement, which has been hinted at for some weeks now, will be confirmed tonight.
Olympians and Last Man Standing ambassadors Andy Lee and Kenneth Egan are set to be part of an English-speaking commentary team on the night – and it is understood the eight-man middleweight tournament and the light middleweight Irish title fight between Craig O’Brien and Jay Byrne will make up the bones of the TV broadcast.
It is also possible that should the eight-man contest produces some early finishes – and if earlier bouts are pre-recorded – footage from the early undercard or swing bouts may be shown
TG4 have shown amateur boxing in recent years and the viewing figures have been impressive, but with the casual-friendly nature of such a tournament, they would expect to dwarf the aforementioned numbers.
For the fighters involved it’s a massive chance to boost their profile. The station not only reaches 98% of the country, but has an online platform too.
The link-up means the fighters competing on the night have the chance to become names and really boost their career chances, while the promoters involved will have the increased sway and power that comes with a TV deal.
Event promoters Red Corner and Assassin had claimed TV options and suggested they would follow the route that ensured TV exposure for at least three Last Man Standings, but at this present time, Irish-Boxing.com is unsure as to the length of the contract.
Regardless it’s a massive opportunity for those involved and the sport in general as good ratings will not only keep TG4 satisfied but may also tempt other stations to consider showing live boxing again.
Following some early withdrawals, the eight-man competition currently consists of Chris Blaney, Bernard Roe, Alfredo Meli, Sean McGlinchey, and Roy Sheahan – with three more fighters set to be announced soon.