Jamie Sanigar wants Welsh boxing to make the most of 14 May show
At 36-years-old, there won’t be many younger promoters than Bristol’s Jamie Sanigar but don’t be deceived by his age.
The Middlesex University business graduate has been around boxing all of his life. As the eldest child of Chris Sanigar, a nuts-and-guts welterweight who fought in all corners of the globe in the 80s, boxing runs through Jamie’s blood.
For the past several years, Jamie has promoted a series of ‘small hall’ shows in Bristol, Newport and Merthyr Tydfil. Some received coverage from Eurosport but the dates dried up and some of the events have sometimes run at a loss. They continued though, continuing the development of prospects and it has been an investment for the company, Sanigar Events.
After paying his dues, what was Jamie’s eventual reward? A co-promotional agreement with Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions to host regular shows live on Channel 5, broadcasting to the terrestrial television channel’s audience of millions. Jack pot? Fingers crossed.
“This was the plan all along. There was method in our madness when we were pushing hard in Newport and Merthyr,” said Jamie at the press conference to launch the new venture. “Sometimes we lost money but it was all about speculating to accumulate. It was about getting the bigger shows, creating new stars of the future to follow in the footsteps of [IBF world featherweight champion and Sanigar managed] Lee Selby.”
It will start on Saturday 14 May at the multi-million pound Ice Arena Wales in Cardiff Bay. With no suitable venue in the West Country, Bristol’s switch-hitting Lee Haskins (32-3, 14KO) will defend his IBF world bantamweight belt against Mexico’s once-beaten Ivan Morales (29-1, 17KO). They received offers from Asia but the temptation to bring Haskins to home soil for his first championship defence was too much. Is it the biggest occasion of Jamie’s managerial career? He thinks so.
“I think it might be, it certainly is emotionally. Me and Lee [Haskins] are very close, we’ve kind of grown up together over 20 years,” he said. “To be able to deliver this for him, practically in his home territory, is great. We’ve linked up with Barry McGuigan too, an idol of ours and pretty much everyone else of my generation. That’s surreal.”
Chief Supporters on the undercard include Barry Town’s rising flyweight star Andrew Selby (4-0, 3KO) and Cardiff’s hungry cruiserweight contender Craig Kennedy (14-0, 8KO). The pair will fight for British and IBF International titles respectively, facing ex-English titlist Louis Norman (11-1-1, 2KO) and Belgium’s giant Joel Tambwe Djeko (9-1-1, 4KO).
As beneficiaries of the new set-up, both Selby and Kennedy, who have come from completely different routes, represent a path of progress that novice professionals can aim towards. Sister broadcaster Spike TV (Sky Ch. 160) will show the up-and-comers on the undercard, which includes two weight Celtic champion Mitch Buckland (10-0, 2KO) and ex-Welsh Area ruler Frankie Borg. For them and their peers, Jamie insists they must seize their chance to impress on a bigger and potentially more fruitful stage.
Jamie said: “Andrew [Selby] and Craig [Kennedy] are the first two on the production line and from there, there’s great talent coming though. Wales has always produced great fighters. There’s the likes of Nathan Thorley and Tony Dixon who are two of them coming through now.
“We’re looking at about eight to 10 fights in total. We’re looing at a few more regional title fights, like a Celtic or Welsh [Area]. Then we’ll have three or four other fights left to add to it but that depends on the title fights we can add to it. For Welsh boxing, it’s a huge night. We don’t get enough nights like this. The guys need to recognise their opportunity and take it with two hands.”
While winning is essential for the project to move forward, so is the support the boxers receive. Cyclone Promotions and Channel 5 are unlikely to return to Wales if attendance targets at the 3,500 capacity arena aren’t met. A bigger event means the promoter’s overheads are increased and unlike the shows in Newport or Merthyr, this is one night that can’t afford to cost more than it makes in return.
Explaining the strain, Jamie said: “We expect a busy, packed house. We need the support, big time. It can be very tempting sometimes to sit on the sofa when it’s free to view but we need that Welsh support. People need to understand that without that support, these shows won’t happen. It finances the shows, boxers have got to be paid and the only way they can get paid is through income generated through the event.
“It’s a great night, the biggest night of boxing in Wales since Selby was in Cardiff in 2014 or [Nathan] Cleverly fought [Sergey] Kovalev for the world [light-heavyweight] title [in 2013]. These big nights don’t happen in Wales every weekend, so if we want to bring them back, we need to pack this place out.”