Frank Warren: Modern boxing is in better health than 30 years ago

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Frank Warren says being a boxing promoter is easier today than it was 30 years ago, when he first began staging world title fights.

Warren's first world title fight in January 1985 saw Welshman Colin Jones stopped in four rounds by American Don Curry, the undisputed world welterweight champion, at the NEC in Birmingham.

Warren went on to become Britain's leading promoter but in the last few years his stable of fighters has reduced while rival promoter Eddie Hearn has grown in prominence.

Warren's fighters are screened on BoxNation while Hearn's stable is shown on Sky Sports, both subscription satellite channels. But Warren insists boxing today is in better health than it was three decades ago when it had bigger audiences on terrestrial channels.

"Back in those days when I did my first world title fight there were only two TV channels that showed boxing -- BBC and ITV," Warren told ESPN.

"What I remember is doing a deal with Bob Arum and the fight sold out very quickly. Curry was one of the hottest fighters around and it was a fantastic evening, except for the result. For me it was great to be involved with Bob Arum, who had worked with all the great fighters.

"It's not as difficult today as it was back then. There was only one TV company to go to and there was no boxing on ITV back then so I had to work hard to get it on there. Now there are so many different channels that show boxing.

"I used to run shows regularly without TV back then. I was battling against a cartel in boxing. The cartel was Mickey Duff, Jarvis Astaire and Terry Lawless, who managed all the fighters, and Mike Barrett, who had the venues. I even had to build a venue in Docklands to get going. They had a stranglehold and it was hard to get going, but the Jones-Curry fight helped.

"I think boxing is in better health now than it was in the 1980s and 1990s. I left ITV to go to Sky who had less than four million subscribers at the time. It's a bit like the number of newspapers that are sold today compared to the 1980s or 1990s, or how many people are watching Coronation Street. People's viewing habits have changed and how they consume the stuff."

In his first world title fight [Curry-Jones], Warren worked alongside the American promoter Bob Arum and on Saturday the two have again co-operated on a bill that includes two Briton's fighting American opponents for world title belts at the Manchester Arena. Manchester's Terry Flanagan makes a first defence of his WBO lightweight title against Diego Magdaleno, who is promoted by Arum's Top Rank company, while Liverpool's Liam Smith disputes the vacant WBO light-middleweight title with John Thompson.

Warren has promoted 276 world title fights but there is more to his business today than that and the 63-year-old insists he is not concerned about the competition from Hearn.

"It has been four years of building the TV channel and evolving the business," Warren said. "I'm not worried about Matchroom [Eddie Hearn] and what they are doing. We are building a channel and we own our own content.

"It's not about me or Matchroom. We've built a successful business in BoxNation. It remains to be seen if they make a fortune on pay-per-view. Some of the fighters they have now I finished with them. I didn't want to be involved with Kell Brook's father and I didn't want to be involved with Frankie Gavin anymore.

"George Groves has come to us and boxing will always be like that. The Boxing Writers' Young Boxer of the Year was one of ours -- Mitchell Smith -- and he wasn't on Sky and if you look at the viewing figures, we have got more people watching our shows than Sky [boxing events].

"We are still delivering regular world title fights and look at how many of their fighters have been beaten or have jumped ship to fight in America like James DeGale and Lee Selby.

"What I have done is to be innovative and the whole thing has evolved. I'm not just a boxing promoter anymore and we've set up our own channel.

"Bob Arum is still doing it at 83 years of age. I've got a lot of respect for him because he's very creative and he has opened difference markets in China and elsewhere. He's very clever at what he does. We are taking BoxNation to India, Kazakhstan and Russia, which are big markets, and the channel is going from strength to strength. You evolve and I'm an innovator."