Bristol promoter Chris Sanigar succeeds in bringing championship boxing back to the city
Bristol promoter Chris Sanigar has finally succeeded in his long-running quest to bring big-time championship boxing back to the city after an absence of 15 years.
Sanigar today struck a blow for West Country sport when winning the purse bids to stage the battle of Britain’s little men between Bristol’s Lee Haskins and Newcastle’s Martin Ward.
The pair will contest the vacant British bantamweight title at the City Academy in Russell Town Avenue in the Redfield area of Bristol on a date still to be decided in April.
It will be the first time a major championship fight has been held in Bristol since Stapleton’s Glenn Catley halted Neville Brown in eight rounds to claim the British middleweight crown in January, 1998.
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Sanigar faced down fierce competition from Ward’s camp, who were determined to stage the contest in the native North East.
But the Easton-based promoter and manager eventually out-bid his rivals and he now has two weeks in which to notify the British Boxing Board of Control of a fight date and venue.
“This is a big day for professional sport in Bristol,” declared Sanigar, who has trained numerous champions in his gym in Thomas Street in St Agnes over the past two decades.
“Ward’s people went all out to try and get their man home advantage, but Bristol has come out on top over Newcastle.
“We have not staged a British title fight in this city since Glenn Catley beat Nevill Brown all those years ago.
“Bristol should be staging events like this more often and this fight is long overdue.
“Bristol people love their sport and they are always complaining that nothing big ever comes here. Well, I’ve delivered this event and it is now up to them to support it.”
The absence of a major indoor venue has held back Bristol boxers, many of whom have been forced to travel the length and breadth of Britain and even overseas in their pursuit of success.
Former British, Commonwealth and European champion Haskins has not fought in Bristol since 2007 and is genuinely excited at the prospect of boxing in front of his home crowd.
Sanigar considered a number of options before deciding to go with the City Academy sports hall, a venue which seats 1,450 people.
He said: “The Academy is just about big enough to stage a show of this size and I am looking forward to working with the people there.
“We do not have a TV deal for this fight and I am still looking for support from the local business community in terms of sponsorship.
“If people want top-class sport in this city, then they have to realise it comes at a cost and now is the time to put up or shut up.”
Former British and European super middleweight champion Dean Francis will also appear on the April bill as chief support to Haskins.
Sanigar added: “We will have a really attractive under-card featuring plenty of talented local fighters. For many of them, it will be their chance to perform in their home city and our gym is buzzing.”
Ticket information will be released once a date for the show has been finalised.