Jeff Fenech on new Channel 9 deal, bringing boxing back to free-to-air

TO some people, Jeff Fenech was the face of all things good about the golden era of Australian boxing.

A feel good story about the boy from Marrickville who went on to arguably become the finest pugilistic product the country has seen.

However, in the decades that have passed, things have slightly changed.

A pay-per-view model was introduced and soon replaced the free-to-air television model that preceded it, meaning that people needed a pay TV subscription to see the best fighters face each other.

But if Jeff Fenech gets his way, which the former three-time world champion believes he will, Fenech alongside Melbourne promoter Brian Amatruda will usher in a new era for Australian boxing.

Starting with former IBF featherweight champion Billy Dib’s bold bid to dethrone reigning WBC super featherweight champion Takashi Miura in Tokyo on May 1st, Fenech says he is on the verge of introducing a series of fight nights to be televised live on free-to-air broadcaster Channel 9.

“The reason Channel 9 are televising the Billy Dib vs. Takashi Miura fight live from Japan is because of me,” said Fenech in an exclusive interview with Aus-Boxing.

“I asked David Gyngell (CEO of Nine Entertainment) to do it and that’s the reason they are going to. There’s no other reason,”

“The Dib fight in Japan had a lot if’s and but’s and I explained it’s a big thing,” Fenech added.

“It’s a title that I never won and Lionel Rose won a world title in Japan against Fighting Harada. I believe there is a lot of great intangibles that make the fight interesting,”

“Billy is good friend of mine, his trainer Billy Hussien is a good friend of mine. So at the end of the day, I said let’s do this,”

Providing that Fenech’s meetings with the head of the network go according to plan, live boxing on free-to-air television will become a fixture on an already stacked sporting calendar.

“I’m meeting with David Gyngell and I will be doing some Fenech fight nights on Channel 9. It’s going to be exciting times for Australian boxing I believe,”

“When we did the Sonny Bill Williams fight on GEM, David and I sat down and spoke,” Fenech continued.

“I asked the question – “Why can’t we do some stuff on Channel 9? We could get some good ratings,” – I told him I’ll put on some good fights and use The Melbourne Pavilion,”

Fenech believes that a partnership with leading domestic promoter Brian Amatruda, who also owns the picturesque Melbourne Pavilion, could only lead to a positive outcome for Australian boxing.

As the recent Mundine vs. Rabchenko card last November in Melbourne showed, provided the package is right, there is a market for top level boxing in Australia.

“I believe it’s a good venue and I believe that Melbourne has the best sporting crowd in the world. We went through a few things together and he agreed,”

“We’ve got the right people talking and it’s come to fruition. It’s a great thing for Australian boxing and it’s something we really really need. I think it could be the ingredient we need to get boxing back to where it deserves to be,”

“I’ve got a lot of ideas. I just think that boxing slowly slowly dying.” Fenech explained.

“I don’t know what the sport would do without the Brian Amatruda’s of the world, the one guy who I’ve sat back and watched, who is doing his best for the sport,”

“I gave him a call and asked him if I can do something with him. He said “yes” and I was excited,” said Fenech in closing.

“I see this as my return to boxing,”

With the only other television outlet, being Fox Sports, handing out all their dates internationally, there is presently no other outlet televising Australian boxing. This is something Fenech believes must change.

“I’ve said especially after how Foxtel have treated all these other people, it’s an amazing opportunity,”

“I know what I can do, I’ve promoted before, I’ve trained before. David asked me “how many fight nights I want?” we spoke about it and he said “let’s go do it” and now we’re here,”

“First and foremost what we need to do is promote our fighter’s. For me, this is what’s great with Brian and his team, we don’t want easy fights for the boys,”

Photo: Louie Abigail/Photography by Rockfingrz



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