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Talking Boxing

Interviews, opinions, features and news from the greatest sport in the world!

January 27, 2017

A new platform

Nicola Adams, Frank Warren, BT Sport, Boxnation

Nicola Adams is just one of a number of signings to join Frank Warren in the past week

by Rian Scalia

Frank Warren’s deal with BT Sport has shaken up the game in quite a way. With more available funds and more television dates, the long-time British boxing stalwart has managed to stay relevant once again.

Since announcing the deal, Warren has been loading up on talent, with signings seemingly being announced every few days. From under the radar fighters like Mohamed Soltby out of Germany to two-time Olympic gold medallists like Nicola Adams (Warren had always said he was never a fan of women’s boxing), boxers of all stages and profiles are being added to the roster to bolster his stable.

One aspect is somewhat reminiscent of what Golden Boy Promotions is doing in America. The California-based company has signed several young fighters that weren’t the big name Olympic-type amateurs, and have gone off the board in hopes of finding diamonds in the rough that can be blue chippers.

They also signed some like Hector Tanajara who would’ve vied for a spot in the Olympic Trials, but chose to go pro early at the age of 18. Daniel Dubois is one of those for Warren. The extremely promising heavyweight was a big hope for the 2020 Olympics for Team GB, even though he was second in the queue behind Frazer Clarke, who is 24 and may or may not stay all the way until 2020. The 19-year-old Dubois would’ve been second fiddle for the major tournaments for at least a year or two and took it upon himself to go pro instead.

All reports seem to indicate that Dubois was paid a big signing on fee, but having a big, stable television platform and many dates to fill is great for persuading potential fighters and their managers to join the team. Although Golden Boy’s deal with ESPN isn’t nearly as lucrative as Warren’s BT Sport deal, it’s still a big platform and there will be plenty of dates to fill, and could help them lure in prospects.

While Warren obviously has a lot to work with now, aside from some bigger names like Josh Warrington and Nicola Adams, he’s also brought on a number of good amateurs that weren’t at the front of the line in the GB squad like Ekow Essuman and Sam Maxwell, as well as younger boxers like heavyweight Naylor Ball and welterweight Lewis Crocker. That’s just naming a few and with the way things are going, it wouldn’t be surprising to see another plethora of signings in the coming weeks.

Those signings are in addition to the up and coming stable that Warren has with the likes of Anthony Yarde, Sam McNess, Zelfa Barrett and Boy Jones Jr. None of them were big time amateurs but they’re all showing promise as pros. It’s a numbers game, and if half or even a quarter of the prospects pan out and reach a reasonably high level then it’s a success. Not every fighter pans out, that’s just the way it goes in boxing.

Along with the domestic talent, Warren may also look internationally like he’s done in the past and has done recently with Vijender Singh and Zolani Tete. Singh is a superstar in India and a potential catalyst for that market in boxing, while Tete is a world level fighter that can add quality to cards. The aforementioned Soltby was a bit off the board, being a young German-based fighter who’s still growing into the heavyweight division but the heavyweights bring money and eyeballs at the higher levels. The UK is at a point where it can turn into an international boxing epicentre, and there isn’t any negative aspect of showcasing and building up international talents.

Many were underwhelmed by Warren's press conference on Monday to announce the BT Sport schedule and were expecting more based on the proposed magnitude of the deal. But the big picture will start getting filled once prospects begin to take step ups. Whether they succeed or fail, there are a lot of them poised to attempt to climb the ladder.

The crowded UK boxing market now with BT Sport, Sky Sports, ITV and Channel 5 provides competition for each party to up their game. It remains to be seen how successful Warren’s deal with BT Sport will be but there have been instances throughout history where people thought he was done or falling off and he managed to stick around and make a resurgence.

The coming months will tell us a lot as the domestic schedule develops between numerous TV channels. But for each entity and for Warren in particular, it provides them an incentive to try and step it up things notch. And now he has the platform and backing to do just that.