Pay per punch becomes reality


FRANK BRUNO'S WBC heavy weight clash against Mike Tyson will, as widely anticipated, launch pay per view television in Ireland and Britain. Sky Sports in Britain, yesterday confirmed that it will cost satellite subscribers £9.95 to watch the 4.0 a.m., St Patrick's Day fight from Las Vegas - or £14.95 if they decide to invest in the new concept on the day of the contest. Irish subscribers to Sky Sports are likely to face similar charges. Final details will be forthcoming from Sky Sports over the next few days.

"I'm sure this is going to be one of the great things in British boxing," said Bruno's promoter, Frank Warren, who, with American partner Don King, made the rights available only on a pay per view basis. "It's one of the biggest, nights in British boxing. It's just a shame that Nigel Benn will not be part of it because he is contracted to fight a couple of weeks earlier."

Bruno Tyson will be linked to Warren's promotion, scheduled for Glasgow, involving Prince Naseem Hamed's first WBO featherweight championship defence against Nigeria's Said Lawal. Warren is also still adamant that Joe Bugner will be part of the deal, challenging Brighton's Scott Welch for his WBOinter continental champion.

Although Bugner has twice been knocked out by the British Boxing Board of control and refused a licence to challenge Welch, Warren has made a further appeal to the ruling body to change their decision. If not, it seems as if Bugner - 46 on March 13th - may attempt to fight Welch in Ireland, which is outside the board's jurisdiction.

"This is the biggest fight I've known. Six years ago I watched Frank take on Tyson as the underdog, now I'm working with him as the new world champion. He has put 12 years of his life into this and, believe me, he deserves the success.

King said: "The only way I was ever going to promote this fight was live in the UK and if Sky hadn't worked with me I would have put the fight on in club's and cinemas only.

That would have substantially increased the cost of closed circuit viewing in cinemas to the public - and Sky are hoping that their audience of 3.2 million dish viewers and 1.5 million cable subscribers will make the night a financial success.

Unless it is, it seems doubtful if Bruno will collect a bonus on his £4 million purse. "Bruno is being paid a considerable amount of money," said Warren. "He sold his ancillary rights and if the operation is a success, we may have something left."

Pay per view screening has become commonplace in the United States for big sporting events. Although Bruno Tyson is the first in Britain, Sky are regarding it as a one off with their deputy managing director David Chance declaring that they have no plans to extend the operation to other events such as English FA Premiership soccer.