... Despite dubious profit from ‘Axeman’ title bout
DESPITE not having made a profit from the company's $50-million investment in the World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight title fight between Nicholas 'Axeman' Walters and Daulis Prescott, local pay-to-air cable station SportsMax is prepared to continue its partnership with the Jamaica Boxing Board of Control (JBBC) for Walters' April title defence.
President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SportsMax Oliver McIntosh told the Jamaica Observer the decision to get involved with the project was not made with a view to an immediate profit in mind, but a look at the long-term gains.
"For us it was an investment in developing boxing in Jamaica. We executed it in a way that was unprecedented in Jamaica and as a result it was a heavy investment and a heavy burden, but (we did it) because of what we believe in. These things aren't one-shot wonders; it takes some time to get there," he said.
"Part of our company philosophy is that we strongly believe in the development of sport locally and boxing had a turnabout with 'The Contender Series' and we thought with this event it would be a great event to put international boxing back on the map."
McIntosh sees the benefits of the long-term gains from the fightcard despite the heavy costs, and having been approached by the JBBC only 45 days prior to the fight.
"It's content. Working with our core sponsors and then (broadcast) rights. Working with sponsors Wray and Nephew and Advantage General did help to cover some of those costs. But the TV rights and content... that's what we're most interested in," he added.
The fightcard was broadcast not only in the Caribbean, but other areas of Latin America facilitated broadcast of the event throughout Latin America.
"We don't cover those territories, but we provided the distribution for it," McIntosh explained.
SportsMax was granted a licence to promote boxing by the JBBC as part of the deal and are now legitimate promoters of the sport in Jamaica.
MJK Productions, which promotes "The Contender Series" in conjunction with Television Jamaica (TVJ), Willy Yap and Andrew Boland, are the other promoters of boxing locally.
Being promoters meant SportsMax was responsible for almost every aspect of promoting the recent fight, including tickets for the event, planning and other logistics.
"We needed to make sure that it went off," McIntosh said.
General secretary of the JBBC, Leroy Brown, told the Observer that without SportsMax the December 8 fight would not have taken place.
"The opportunity arose where the fight could take place in Jamaica, but the money had to be found to make sure we could pay the boxers — the two main bout contesters — and they agreed to put the financing up. It was really (them) putting up the money that made it happen," Brown said.
Walters must defend his title by the end of April and the two entities seem content to go forward with their arrangement once a suitable opponent is negotiated between the boxer's promoter, Jacques Deschamps, and the WBA.
"We worked along with them to bring it to fruition because they wanted to have more depth as far as the sport is concerned and having done so well with that promotion and being so happy, they said 'we are in'.
"They said they want to do the next one and they will negotiate with Deschamps and whoever is selected to fight Nicholas."
Said McIntosh: "I can't forward any details. It is something that obviously we're very interested in participating in the future. I would assume that we would be involved going forward, but I can't make any assumptions like that because there is no contract. We had a good working relationship with all the parties."
He added that the feedback so far had been positive to the broadcast, although the numbers in terms of viewership have not been ascertained.
"Articles have been written by a number of different journals and newspapers commending the effort and it came off as an international presentation and it really put Jamaica on the map, and that's what we want," he said.
Despite the success of the collaboration with the JBBC, however, McIntosh did not seem gung-ho on rushing into similar partnerships with other local sporting associations.
"We're going to pick and choose what we get involved in. This is one that definitely made sense to us," he said.
That includes broadcasting a boxing series of their own similar to "The Contender Series".
"That's not in the cards right now. It wouldn't fit into our schedule," he said.