ZDF throws in the towel after just one fight in Universum deal
ZDF, the German public-service broadcaster, has decided to call time on its return to boxing coverage after just one fight.
ZDF teamed up with the revived Universum Box Promotion back in August, with the first bout under the new collaboration taking place at The Dome in Hamburg on 9 November.
However, following disappointing viewing figures from that fight (820,000) and failed negotiations over the boxers for the second bout, also in Hamburg, on 4 April, ZDF has ended the partnership with Universum.
Thomas Fuhrmann, ZDF’s head of sport, told German news agency DPA: “We could not agree a fight card with Universum. Therefore there will not be a second boxing evening for us with the boxing promoter.”
Fuhrmann added that the development does not represent a “blanket rejection” of boxing coverage on ZDF.
In response, Ismail Özen-Otto (pictured), Universum’s managing director, said: “We have a valid contract with ZDF for at least one event and have been in constructive discussions. Last Thursday we agreed by telephone on the fight pairings and thereafter we were in a process of defining the details.
“We assume that ZDF will honour its obligations. After all, we have also signed contracts with boxers, which we will keep in any case.”
One option for Universum could be to team up with ZDF's free-to-air counterpart ARD, which is set to televise the WBA light heavyweight title fight between Germany's Dominic Bösel and Australia's Zac Dunn in Magdeburg.
Prior to November, ZDF had not shown professional boxing since 2010 when it ended an eight-year association with Universum, worth around €20 million ($21.6 million) per annum, which led to the promoter filiing for bankruptcy in November 2012.
Universum was formed in 1984 by Klaus-Peter Kohl and has represented leading boxers for various periods, including world heavyweight champions Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko from Ukraine.
The return of the promoter under new ownership was announced in January 2019.