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boxing KO Billy Joe Saunders’ unification fight with Canelo Alvarez will not now be shown on Sky

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Billy Joe Saunders

Billy Joe Saunders

Billy Joe Saunders

Billy Joe Saunders’ unification fight with Canelo Alvarez will not now be shown on Sky, it has emerged, although it has nothing to do with Daniel Kinahan’s continued involvement in the sport, promoter Eddie Hearn insisted.

Last month Saunders credited the notorious crime boss as having “done the deal” for all his world-title fights.

This put added pressure on broadcasters to “take responsibility” over Kinahan’s grip on the sport in the wake of the devastating BBC Panorama documentary, 'Boxing and the Mob' that revealed how the mobster remains influential in the boxing world.

Hearn, who had previously expressed frustration with the unwelcome attention Kinahan's role in the sport has brought, said Sky had made no offer to land what is one of the most-anticipated bouts of the year.

Hearn said that as Canelo already had a global deal with DAZN, which had stated it would broadcast the Saunders bout in the UK, this superseded his own deal with Sky, which had shown both of Saunders’ previous WBC super-middleweight title defences.

However, Hearn, who represents megastar Anthony Joshua, has previously said the BBC documentary that revealed how Kinahan is still involved in the sport “had brought the story to a much bigger audience”.

Kinahan, who is described as an adviser, led talks on behalf of Tyson Fury with Hearn last summer when an initial two-fight agreement was reached.

After Fury hailed Kinahan for getting that deal “over the line” the ensuing uproar forced the Dubliner step away from the talks.

“The show we saw the other night didn’t tell the hardcore boxing audience anything different,” Hearn said after the documentary was aired, “because that story’s been told.

“But what it did do was open that story up to a much wider audience, which is not good for boxing because that’s the wider audience I talk about that I’m trying to convince to bring into boxing.

“With boxing, it always feels like, not certain people, but people never quite want it to get there.

“So anything that represents boxing in a bad light is never good for the sport.”

Outspoken TD Neale Richmond then called on the Chief Executive of Sky Media in Ireland to ensure no future boxing matches involving Daniel Kinahan would be shown on the network.

Richmond pointed to the fact that Sky is a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, which means they have an obligation to address any issues within their supply chains.

JD Buckley has been at the helm of Sky Ireland for almost two years has been told that "now is not the time for ignorance" and is urged to take a stand against Daniel Kinahan and his criminal behaviour.

“I am writing to you once again in reference to Daniel Kinahan’s ongoing involvement in professional boxing in an attempt to whitewash his reputation,” the TD said.

There has been no official comment from Sky on whether the decision not to broadcast the fight had anything to do with Saunders’ revelation about Kinahan and the UK broadcasting arrangements for the Canelo fight. DAZN has also declined to comment on the pressure on broadcasters over Kinahan’s role in brokering world-title fights.

However, both Sky and BT had made efforts to distance themselves from Kinahan last summer after Fury’s announcement that the Irishman had helped strike a deal for him to fight Anthony Joshua for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world.

Both broadcasters declared they had not dealt directly with Kinahan amid calls led by then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in June for a sporting and media boycott of what would be the biggest bout in British boxing history.

Kinahan, who Gardaí say heads a cartel involved in murders both in Ireland and abroad as well as a major drugs empire, had been given a "big shout out" Fury for his role in brokering the major bout with Anthony Joshua.

In a video message posted on his social media accounts, Fury announced a two-fight deal between him and unified world title holder Joshua.

"I'm just after getting off the phone with Daniel Kinahan," he told his followers, saying that "he's just informed me that the biggest fight in British boxing history has just been agreed".

The announcement sparked major controversy, with a number of Irish politicians calling for action over Dubai-based Kinahan, who has been named in the High Court as running the day-to-day drug-trafficking operations of the international crime gang.

Speaking at the time, Mr Varadkar said: "Certainly the authorities in the UAE know the situation.

"They know our concerns and our problems with it."

Asked if sports broadcasters should show the planned fight, he replied: "It's not a decision for me but I think it would be entirely appropriate for sports organisations and media organisations to have nothing to do with this."

He added: "Maybe they don't know the facts or they don't know the truth but they need to know them.

Telegraph Sport revealed last year that Fury, whose fights are shown by BT Sport, would no longer be represented by Kinahan in negotiations for the Joshua match.

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