Don't count out Sauerland Event, Germany's No. 1 boxing promoter and one of the biggest promoter's in Europe, just yet.
That is what many did earlier this month when German television network ARD, which has had an output deal with the Sauerland Event since 2000, said it would not renew the agreement that expires at the end of the year. Without a network partner paying millions to bankroll its fight cards, many thought Sauerland Event was doomed.
But, as I wrote last week, Sauerland Event was in talks with SAT.1, another major German television network, about a contract. On Thursday they announced that they had made a deal for that network to become the home for Sauerland's fighters beginning next year.
Although SAT.1 will not be paying as much as ARD did -- an estimated $10 million per year -- the deal gives Sauerland new life. The deal calls for at least eight cards a year and includes plans for SAT.1 parent company ProSiebenSat.1 to start a 24/7 boxing channel.
"We are very happy to have found a new and accomplished television partner for the German market. There are exciting times ahead," promoter Kalle Sauerland said at a news conference in Berlin to announce the agreement. "We want to thank everybody at ARD for a long and successful collaboration. This was not an easy step as ARD didn't want to continue to broadcast boxing. But the show must go on and we are excited to ring in a new era."
The deal means that all of Sauerland's top fighters, including super middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham, light heavyweight titleholder Juergen Braehmer, cruiserweight titlist Yoan Pablo Hernandez, former super middleweight titlist Mikkel Kessler, super middleweight contender George Groves and heavyweight hopeful David Price, will be featured as well as younger fighters such as Jack Culcay, Stefan Haertel, Noel Gevor, Vincent Feigenbutz, Enrico Koelling and Tyron Zeuge.
"This was one of the major factors in our negotiations with SAT.1. We not only want to show the best but also our young fighters on their way to the top," Sauerland said. "That is and will always be our concept."
Another top Sauerland fighter, cruiserweight titleholder Marco Huck, announced recently that he will not renew his expiring promotional agreement with the company when it is up at the end of the year. But he cited the lack of a television deal as part of his reasoning. With Sauerland securing a new deal, perhaps Huck will change his mind.
With the addition of the Sauerland stable, SAT.1 is clearly the No.1 boxing network in Germany -- a boxing hotbed -- as it already has deals to air fights put on by Felix Sturm's promotional company and SES Boxing, promoter of German star Robert Stieglitz. The only big-time fighter it doesn't televise in Germany is heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who has a deal with RTL.
"This collaboration is a milestone for boxing in Germany," said Zeljko Karajica, CEO of ProSiebenSat.1. "With this deal, SAT.1 will become the leading television channel for boxing in Germany. Together with Team Sauerland, Felix Sturm and SES Boxing we will stage superb events, which will set a new standard."
Sauerland Event has one more card remaining on its ARD deal, a Dec. 6 show headlined by Hernandez facing mandatory challenger Ola Afolabi.