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Why Gennady Golovkin can relight fire of free-to-air boxing

Nick Parkinson
February 4, 2015
Gennady Golovkin's fight with Martin Murray will be shown on terrestrial television © Getty Images

Promoter Mick Hennessy explains to ESPN why boxing on free-to-air television is so important for the sport. Hennessy has a deal with Channel 5, which will be showing WBA world middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin against St Helens' Martin Murray in Monte Carlo on February 21.

Gennady Golovkin is one of the best fighters in the world right now and his fight against Martin Murray is a real coup for terrestrial TV.

It's a collaboration with Rodney Berman, of Golden Gloves promotions, and he is the lead promoter of the show in Monte Carlo. Whether he's pound-for-pound the best in the world or not, I consider Golovkin [known as GGG] as the most exciting fighter right now. In America, they are comparing him to a young Mike Tyson.

Mick Hennessy expects big things of Kid Galahad © PA Photos

So it was a chance to see GGG on terrestrial TV in the UK in his toughest test to date against a top quality British fighter in Martin Murray. Martin should have won his world title fights against Sergio Martinez and Felix Sturm but has conducted himself brilliantly in his career.

It was a no-brainer for me so I worked a deal with Rodney. He was actually pleased to get it on terrestrial TV in the UK because he wanted to get it out to a wide audience for Martin. GGG's camp is also happy that it's going to be seen by a massive audience over here.

We are talking about following up this next show with another one out in Monte Carlo at some point, so we will see. I would like to do it on regular basis. It's a sensational place for boxing.

I've got more dates with Channel 5 after this next one and at the moment I'm planning Kid Galahad's next fight, which has been made difficult because of Kell Brook's first world title defence in Sheffield on March 28. We had planned to put Kid Galahad on in Sheffield around that time but obviously don't want to fight at a time so close to Kell, so I'm just trying to work out a venue for that at the moment and will probably have to go elsewhere.

It's great news that Carl Frampton's next world title fight is going be live on ITV4 as well. We've [Hennessy Sports] really been flying flag for terrestrial TV for a few years and the response we get from fight fans is phenomenal. It makes you realise how important it is to have boxing on free-to-air television.

The Frampton fight is a one off but if ITV come back into boxing on a long term basis it would be brilliant for the sport. Terrestrial TV, like Channel 5 and ITV, just takes boxing out to a bigger audience than the cable channels can. We all know over the years, one way or another through cable TV and pay-per-view TV, boxing has got smaller in its audience figures and gets worse year by year.

I'm a big advocate of terrestrial TV and I've tried hard to keep boxing on there, from BBC to ITV and now Channel 5. It's hard when you get to the really big world title fights to keep them on terrestrial TV. When a boxer becomes a crossover star, such as Tyson Fury, and is looking towards pay-per-view fights, some fights just can't be done on terrestrial.

I'm trying to find solutions for it all the time because I would love to keep Tyson on terrestrial TV. I never say never and Tyson knows the value of Channel 5 as he was on there for a long time. He realises the benefit of coming off free-to-air TV and it has helped put him in the big money bracket. I've been working with Channel 5 since 2011 and we've built up a great relationship.

Tyson's next fight [against Christian Hammer at the O2 Arena on February 28] will be shown on subscription channel BoxNation and hopefully there will be a world title fight on BoxNation in the summer. I'm working on a co-promotional deal with Tyson at the moment with BoxNation.

But the likes of Kid Galahad, Nick Blackwell and Hughie Fury will be on Channel 5 this year and things will be getting really interesting. I'm looking to get Kid Galahad a world title fight this year, through earning a mandatory position.

He's No.6 with the WBC so the fight with the WBC super-bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz is one we are looking for later this year, but also possibly against [Manchester's WBA interim champion] Scott Quigg and [Belfast's IBF champion] Carl Frampton if he can become mandatory. At the moment, Quigg and Frampton don't want any part of Kid Galahad. Yusuf Safa is an up-and-coming boxer to look out for as well.

Two fighters who I used to promote, Carl Froch and James DeGale, have been in the news this week.

I think Carl will fight again - but I think it would be great if he hung up his gloves now. I'm surprised he's vacated the IBF super-middleweight title this week since he didn't like Joe Calzaghe doing that with him with the WBC title a few years ago.

If Carl ever did fight James DeGale it would be a difficult one to call. I've promoted them both so know them well and I think DeGale's style is all wrong for Carl, with his movement and hand speed. He would give him fits for eight rounds. Knowing both fighters the way I do I think it would come down to mental toughness in the end and Carl would get to James late on. His power would creep in towards the end of the fight.

Mick Hennessy thinks it would be great if Carl Froch retired now - on top of his game © Getty Images
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