Ben Shalom feels he has no reason to tuck his tail between his legs.
The head of Boxxer, a promotional company closely affiliated with the British broadcast giant Sky Sports, became the subject of minor controversy last week when a video was leaked online showing Shalom trying to muzzle an interviewer from asking certain questions.
In the video, which took place after a final press conference for the cruiserweight bout between Richard Riakporhe and Fabio Turchi this past weekend at Wembley Arena in London, Shalom is seen saying, “No Probellum, no A.J.” Shalom does not appear to have realized the camera was recording him.
Shalom was probably responding to recent news which contended that Boxxer has been requiring fighters who want to appear on Sky Sports to sign an agreement denying that they work with MTK Global or Probellum, two outfits that have been connected to Daniel Kinahan, the alleged Irish narco-terrorist. In April, the U.S. Department of Treasury imposed sanctions on Kinahan and several of his colleagues, an action that eventually led MTK to announce its dissolution, even though MTK – nor Probellum – were mentioned explicitly in the sanctions.
With regards to A.J., Shalom was referring to Anthony Joshua, presumably in response to then rumors that the British heavyweight star, a longtime Sky Sports fixture, was looking to sign a new deal with rival broadcaster DAZN. Joshua and DAZN announced Monday that the two had reached a partnership.
Shalom defended his request by recently stating that he was not interested in feeding into boxing’s obsession with soap operas, while maintaining that his interests lie in only promoting fighters under his umbrella.
“I didn’t get into the sport to talk about other promoters and other fighters that have nothing to do with me,” Shalom told IFL TV. “That’s not what we’re in it for.
“I don’t see anything wrong with what I said. When I don’t have anything to say about it – I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t know what it is – what’s the point in talking about it? To me, it’s just principle. It’s not why I got into the sport. Not for the soap opera. I enjoy watching it but it’s not me. I had nothing else to say.”
Shalom expressed disappointment with the decision to leak the video, which, from all appearances, was shot clandestinely.
What I will say is that I’ve never seen that before and I think that is a pretty below the belt thing, but it’s shown them for what they are,” Shalom said. “All I can see is that I love this sport, I’m not into drama, I’m into our fighters and putting in the best shows as we can.
“I knew what was coming,” Shalom continued. “I don’t want to get into it. They’re looking for bait. And they want me to get into the back and forth. We see it with Leonard Ellerbe and Eddie [Hearn] and Frank [Warren]. I enjoy it, but it’s not what I’m focused on and what I enjoy.
“Those are subjects that have nothing to do with…Again, it’s not something I want to get into. I get it, those views, I get it’s entertaining, I get that everyone loves it. I hundred percent get it.”
Shalom shut down any concern that he would ban relevant questions from interviewers moving forward, especially those that deal with his fighters.
“If it was something to do with me and I said don’t ask me about that, then I know it’ll sound bad,” Shalom said. “But I think people respect me for it. I think people are sick of the back and forth and this and that. I think people want fighters to be at the forefront of things. I respect everyone’s different style, but that’s not my style.
“The bigger point is someone filming that and putting it out. That was out of order. That could have been anything. It’s a warning sign. Luckily, for me, I stand behind what I said. But it could have been worse. That’s a breach of trust. That’s a serious thing.”