The return of small hall boxing – on pay-per-view

Mitchell and Farrell take the plunge on pay-per-view (of sorts), writes Matt Bozeat

MIDLANDS promoter Clifton
Mitchell is bringing back small-hall boxing next month with Kieran Farrell set
to follow suit in October.

Mitchell and an unnamed
business partner have stumped up the money for a five-fight show at Hangar 34
in Liverpool on Sunday, September 13 topped by a Midlands-title fight and will
look to recoup their investment through internet pay-per-view sales and
sponsorship.

“The fighters will be paid,”
said Mitchell. “Guaranteed. The money is there and now we have to try to get it back.

“The Board say they will help
pay for the doctors, which is a big help, and the fighters have to sell
pay-per-views instead of tickets. That’s all we can do.

“This could be the future and
I’m determined to make it work.

“The problem is, thousands of
people have to buy it to make it viable, but whether this first one makes money
or not, we will stick at it and try to get the numbers we need.”

The MTK show headlined by
Jono Carroll-Max Hughes this month averaged around 8,000 viewers and Mitchell
said: “That’s because they have the platform – and it’s free.

“We would like to do it for
free as well. But for that to happen, we need to get sponsors on board and to
get sponsors, we need the viewing figures.

“We would love to get into a
position where we can bid for big fights, fights that lots of people really
want to watch.

“That would help us get
sponsors – or we could just sell the fight to Eddie Hearn!”

For the time being, Mitchell
is looking to make his pay-per-view streaming model work.

“I don’t think we will see
big audiences coming together for shows until next March,” he said. “I’ve
spoken to the Nottingham Arena and they say they won’t do anything until then.

“If crowds are allowed back
in, but restricted, small-hall promoters can’t make it pay.

“If you have a fighter who
sells 300 tickets on a show, he can pay for others who don’t sell as many.
Their profit covers the cost of other fighters on the bill who struggle with
tickets, but if every fighter is only given 20 tickets, what chance have you
got ?”

Mitchell says he will sell
100 pay-per-views personally for the show, along with sponsorship, and the hope
will be that the hundreds of supporters who have bought tickets to watch Jack
Bateson at Leeds United FC’s Elland Road ground and the First Direct Arena will
pay to watch him fight on their laptops, telephones and television screens.

Fans will get good value for
their money – there’s an early bird price of £4.99 currently available – with
the top-of-the-bill clash for the vacant Midlands Area super-lightweight
championship between Derby southpaw Alex Fearon, whose father Clive is part of
Mitchell’s training team, and Ben Fields, a hard-as-nails throwback from
Birmingham who is guaranteed to give value for money.

“It will be him coming
forward trying to beat the fight out of me and me trying to keep him off,”
predicted Fearon.

“But I’m not afraid to fight
him. We can have it in a ‘phone box as well.”

For Fearon, it will be his
second shot at Midlands honours. In November, 2018, he was stopped in seven by
Kaisee Benjamin for the vacant title up at 147lbs.

The 26 year old is embracing
his promoter’s idea. “It’s easier than selling tickets,” he said. “I don’t have
to run around dropping off tickets when I should be training or resting. People
don’t realise how stressful selling tickets is.”

Fields gets his shot after
last year snapping four unbeaten fighters – including Sean Daly (8-0) in a
ferocious back-and-forth six rounder that was nominated for the Midlands Area
Council’s fight-of-the-year award.

“I have been winning fights
fighting out of the away corner,” said the 30 year old. “I have earned my
stripes.”

The Daly fight was won by a
huge effort in the final three minutes.

“(Manager) Jon (Pegg) said
after the fight that I’ve got an indomitable spirit,” said Fields, who’s
trained by Shaun Cogan. “I’m not the best with words. I didn’t know what it
meant. I Googled it and it said something like ‘unable to subdue.’ I would go
along with that.

“It’s to do with where I came
from. You can build a fighter in the gym, but I’ve been fighting my whole life.

“I got caught up in drugs in
my early twenties and ended up serving 18 months in prison. I had been to the
gym a few times before I went to prison and while I was inside I thought to
myself: ‘When I get out, I’m going to give boxing a go.’ I went to the gym, met
Shaun Cogan and I’ve given it my all.”

Fields combined boxing on the
busy unlicensed circuit with studying to be a youth and community worker before
turning over at 28 a couple of years ago.

“I didn’t really have any
ambition,” he said. “I enjoyed training and fighting and thought to myself:
‘Let’s get in there and see what I can do.’”

The turning point was a
four-round points win over Kane Gardner (9-0) last May. A fortnight earlier,
Gardner had beaten Fields on points over six, but the rematch went the way of
the Midlander.

“I got the call on the
morning of the fight,” said Fields, “and winning gave me so much confidence.

“People can tell you you’re
good, but you have to do it for yourself sometimes.

“Amateurs turn pro with
confidence in themselves because they have spent a lot of time in the ring. I
didn’t have that. I’ve been learning on the job. I’m doing it the old-school
way.”

Fields doesn’t overcomplicate
his boxing.

“I’m a pressure fighter,” he
said. “I go in there to put it on them. That’s Plan A, Plan B and Plan C.”

The lack of a crowd won’t
bother Fields next month, he says.

“It might work in my favour,”
he said. “I can get caught up in the crowd and stick my tongue out when I get
booed. I get carried away with being the bad guy.

“If I win this, maybe I can
start fighting prospects on bigger shows. They aren’t that many fighters flying
over at the moment and I’m always ready. Or maybe I can look to build a fanbase
around the Midlands.”

Fearon said: “This is a
chance for me to get my name out there.

“I know I’m lucky to be
fighting. I went sparring the other day and one of the lads I was sparring was
saying he doesn’t know when he’s going to be fighting again. Unless you’re with
Matchroom or fighting on BT Sport, there’s not much happening for you and when
you don’t know when you’re fighting, it’s hard to stay motivated. You don’t
know what you can eat and when you have to peak.”

On October 2, Kieran Farrell
is delighted to present Amy Timlin’s bid to become Commonwealth
super-bantamweight champion when she contests the vacant title against Karly
Skelly. The fight will be shown on Fite TV – we’ll have more on that event in
coming weeks.

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