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Taoiseach says broadcasters should boycott title fight organised by drug cartel boss

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has called for a boycott of a boxing world title fight amid controversy over the involvement of drug kingpin Daniel Kinahan.

The Taoiseach spoke out as respected boxing promoter Bob Arum tried to play down the notorious Dublin gang boss's involvement in crime.

It came as two major broadcasters moved to distance themselves from the bout, dubbed the "biggest fight in British boxing history", as Kinahan's criminal activities became the focus of respected British media outlets.

US boxing promoter Mr Arum yesterday said Kinahan's involvement with crime is "not of a major concern" for him.

However, Mr Varadkar said sports and media organisations should have nothing to do with the boxing showdown.

Kinahan, who heads a cartel involved in murders both in Ireland and abroad as well as a major drugs empire, was given a "big shout out" earlier this week by Tyson Fury for his role in brokering the major bout with Anthony Joshua.

In a video message posted on his social media accounts on Wednesday, Fury announced a two-fight deal between him and unified world title holder Joshua.

"I'm just after getting off the phone with Daniel Kinahan," he told his followers, saying that "he's just informed me that the biggest fight in British boxing history has just been agreed".

Fury also gave a "big shout out to Dan" who he said "literally got this done" and "over the line".

The announcement sparked major controversy, with a number of Irish politicians calling for action over Dubai-based Kinahan, who has been named in the High Court as running the day-to-day drug-trafficking operations of the international crime gang.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Varadkar said: "Certainly the authorities in the UAE know the situation.

"They know our concerns and our problems with it."

Asked if sports broadcasters should show the planned fight, he replied: "It's not a decision for me but I think it would be entirely appropriate for sports organisations and media organisations to have nothing to do with this."

He added: "Maybe they don't know the facts or they don't know the truth but they need to know them.

"I wouldn't like to see them giving it any attention at all given the circumstances."

Meanwhile, two leading UK-based sports broadcasters operating in Ireland distanced themselves yesterday from the controversy.

A spokesman for BT Sport said it was "not currently involved in the Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua negotiations".

"Our broadcast agreement for the fights of Tyson Fury is exclusively with Frank Warren's Queensberry Promotions.

"We have had no dealings with MTK or any of their representatives for this fight. BT reviews all sports rights and broadcast deals with the appropriate levels of responsibility and scrutiny before deciding on a course of action.

"We cannot comment further on a potential fight which to the best of our knowledge is not confirmed, and which has not been offered to us."

Sky Sport also released a statement yesterday but would not comment further.

The statement read: "Sky Sports has an exclusive contract with Matchroom Sports and with Anthony Joshua.

"We have not been involved in negotiations for a possible Joshua v Fury fight.

"All our broadcast deals are subject to careful consideration."

It came as promoter Mr Arum told 'Newstalk Breakfast' that the leader of the Kinahan organised crime gang was an "intelligent, dead honest, forthright, and a no-nonsense guy."

The former US federal prosecutor added that it was not unusual for people with "questionable backgrounds" to go into boxing.

Irish Independent