Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom is confident that British boxing will remain strong despite there being less world champions.
In 2016, the UK boxing scene erupted in full force with 13 world champions at the close of the year.
By the end of 2017, there were only six full world champions – Anthony Joshua (WBA-IBF-IBO heavyweight), George Groves (WBA super-middleweight), Billy Joe Saunders (WBO middleweight), Lee Selby (IBF featherweight), Ryan Burnett (WBA-IBF bantamweight) and Kal Yafai (WBA super-flyweight). And some may count Jamie McDonnell, who holds a secondary version of the WBA bantamweight title
Some of the boxers to lose their belts in 2017 include Tony Bellew, James DeGale, Kell Brook, Nathan Cleverly, Carl Frampton and others.
“I don’t see that the number of British world champions is a direct reflection of the market,” Hearn told Nick Parkinson. “What it shows is that those world champions who have lost their titles have been in in real fights, which is good news for the fans and that’s why they are getting beaten.
“Nathan Cleverly, James DeGale, Kell Brook and Carl Frampton — all these guys have in elite fights lost titles, although DeGale was a big shock. Ryan Burnett unified the division and picked up another belt, as did AJ.”
The big boom of 2016 carried over to 2017, with more broadcasters in the UK showcasing the sport of boxing. There were also fighters like Joshua drawing 90,000 fans for his Wembley fight with Wladimir Klitschko in April and then 78,000 at the Principality Stadium for the clash with Carlos Takam in October.
At every turn, there is boxing being plugged in the UK, which Hearn does not view as a problem.
“I do think there’s total saturation in the British boxing market at the moment,” Hearn said. “What I mean by that is there are more shows, more TV broadcasters showing live boxing.
“There might have been a case a few years ago when the expectation would have been one live show of boxing a month on TV. Now it can be two shows a weekend clashing on the same night with others later in the month.
“It’s good from a fans’ point of view, plenty of choice, but from a business point of view only the smartest and extreme quality will survive. From our point of view, it’s about quality and putting on the best events possible in 2018.”