MAYOR of Limerick, Cllr Maria Byrne, has hit out at RTÉ’s decision not to screen Willie ‘Big Bang’ Casey’s WBA Super Bantamweight world title fight in March.
RTÉ Sport have confirmed that they will not be carrying the fight between the Southill man and Cuban world champion, Guillermo Rigondeaux, due to the “financial climate”.
“I am astounded that RTÉ has decided not to show what is set to be one of the greatest bouts ever to take place in Ireland, with Willie Casey up against a former Olympic medallist and World Boxing Association champion,” said an angry Mayor Byrne.
“The fact that the title bout will take place in Citywest in Dublin, just a stone’s throw from RTÉ makes the decision even more unbelievable. I am calling on RTÉ to reverse its decision and to show the fight live,” she added.
However, Ryle Nugent, Group Head, RTÉ Sport, said: “The costs associated with producing and broadcasting this event are prohibitive. The financial climate and our finances do not allow”.
The fight between the Southill man and Rigondeaux will take place on Saturday March 19, and speaking at the fight’s launch in Thomond Park this week, Willie Casey’s manager Don O’Leary said it was a “shame that it will not be shown by our national broadcaster”.
“RTÉ are not covering the event. We have been on to TV3 and Setanta and while there would be a willingness on their parts to show the fight, they can’t come up with the money to broadcast it,” said O’Leary.
“We are talking to Sky and Eurosport. The fight will be shown, but it is a shame that it will not be shown by our national broadcaster. We want the people of Ireland to see the contest. We are very, very disappointed,” he added.
It is thought likely that the cost factor of employing an outside broadcast unit, plus existing boxing deals RTÉ have in place, would have made it difficult for the broadcaster to screen the fight, which ESPN have the US and worldwide rights to, the Leader understands.
Close to 3,000 of the 4,200 seats for the bout, which will take place the same day as the Ireland England Six Nations match in the Aviva Stadium, have been sold.
Cork born Gary Hyde, who manages Rigondeaux, also expressed disappointment about RTÉ’s decision.
“The Irish broadcasters are saying they cannot afford to show the bout,” said Hyde.
“It will be shown in Northern, Central and Southern America.