At just 33 years old, having commentated on hundreds of cards across the UK with over 1000 interviews behind him, Ringside Boxing News talk to Boxing TV’s Dan Hewitt as he looks forward to a prosperous 2021.
With the current generation of legacy media commentators seemingly coming towards the end of their careers, a new generation of commentators are set to arrive on the scene in the very near future. Leading the pack with strong intentions to become Britain’s next leading boxing commentator is Boxing TV’s Dan Hewitt.
Currently on Sports Channel Network and FITE TV, Dan has come a long way from his early Facebook Live days. His unrealised path to the world of boxing media began when Dan started live streaming his commentary of local bouts at Stoke Town Hall. No longer able to box due to injury, Dan quickly realised that he could still make something of himself in the boxing world and committed to starting on the ground floor and working his way up.
“I started out writing and enjoyed doing that. And then I went on to doing interviews every now and then with fighters, and people really liked my style of interviewing. I then turned that in to, what was then called 'On the Box', which was the boxing show. There’s been other names in the past! The concept was originally called Fight Forum, then I did another called Boxing Central, there was probably another one as well, but Boxing TV has stuck with me, and it has become its own brand now really. I used to work with a company called Intu Boxing and I was running my show on their platform. When that came to an end, I decided to go it alone. And from there it’s just grown and grown. I’m on my tenth series now! I only really count from Series One on TV because it’s so much better, I mean, even from Episode 1 to Episode 18 you can see the difference. And I will get there one day. I just need to keep working hard”.
Dan has constantly supported and interviewed hundreds of British fighters over the years and throughout the series which has helped him to land interviews with the likes of Amir Khan, James Toney, Roy Jones Jnr, Tyson Fury, Joe Cortez and Mauricio Sulaiman.
Striking a pose with boxing legend James Toney
Amateur Boxing, Singing and Learning The Game
With the progression of Boxing TV fully underway, Dan soon found himself commentating on local shows, a breakthrough coming with regular appearances on fight cards promoted by BCB Promotions as a lead commentator - cutting his teeth as a young professional and continuing to develop his style within boxing media.
Using his initiative, contacts from his amateur days and the relationships he had built along the way, Dan continued to write and the interviews started to increase in regularity - and through trial and error under various working concepts the show continued to develop.
“You know, I had no training, I didn’t know what I was doing but when I look at the new Series 3 of Boxing TV (set to air on Sports Channel Network and FITE TV in early 2021), it’s so much better than when I started out.” And he isn’t wrong.
Throughout our conversation, Dan candidly jokes about the early episodes and the hit and miss nature of learning how to structure the show, how to present and how to give his viewers an interview to look forward to – laying down the foundations and building his craft accordingly.
Dans rise to lead boxing commentator with his own show airing on both Freeview UK TV channel, Sports Channel Network and online fight platform FITE TV started from lacing up the gloves himself as a young man.
“I was an amateur boxer back in the day, was doing it from really young, but started mainly from 18 until I was around about 23/24. I’d been all over the place, in the ring with the best kids in the country, Liverpool, Burton, Sheffield, everywhere! It’s almost like what I do now, my whole life has been channelled to do, I just didn’t know it if that makes sense. I had a path really and I was at a fork in the road where I was fit for boxing, I was a good kid and I also had my singing. And at that point, I chose my singing and it went great. At 21 years old I went on Paul O Grady’s show and had a singing career for a few years.
Dan peforming on the Paul O Grady show in December 2008
"Just after that I had had a really bad injury where I broke my shoulder and collar bone which basically meant I couldn’t fight again. I could punch for a bit but not to a level where I’d be able to fight in the ring consistently.
"So I went in to the entertainment world and ended up in boxing media - obviously if you put a singer with a boxer, you’re going to get a commentator aren’t you, and that’s where I am now!”
A vintage photo of Dan as an amateur with trainer and family friend Joe Heaney
Dan recalls his time coming up as an amateur with best friend and current IBO Continental Super Middleweight champion Nathan Heaney: - “Nathan’s Dad (Joe Heaney) was my trainer. Me and Nathan were his Dad’s favourites, he trained us both and I was Nathan’s sparring partner for 6 years because I could put enough pressure on him. No-one else could really handle it but it was just me, Nath and Joe. That’s what got me in to boxing, punching my best mate in the face!”
Dan Hewitt and Nathan Heaney pictured together in their amateur days
With Dan choosing to pursue his singing, Nathan carried on as an amateur and turned pro back in 2017, signing a promotion agreement with Frank Warren and Queensbury Promotions in April 2020.
The duo had boxed together at Kings Hall, Stoke as amateurs and in March 2020, at the very same venue, Nathan would win the IBO Intercontinental Super Middleweight title in front of an inspirted home crowd with Dan commentating on the event for broadcaster FITE TV.
Nathan Heaney's epic ring walk at Kings Hall, Stoke
Before long Dan would find new opportunities opening up in the United States, heading over to Texas to commentate with El Tigre Promotions, adding yet more experience to an ever growing CV.
“I suppose it came about through reputation and people being happy with my work really – BCB put on a lot of well attended small hall shows and from travelling around Yorkshire, Barnsley, Walsall, getting that chance to commentate on those fights - the guys out in America had also seen my show online and off the back of that,they asked me to go out to the States. I’ve been a few times now. I was meant to go over three times this year, one being Detroit, another had been set for Milwaukee, and Texas again. It’s just snowballing really!"
Despite the obvious setbacks that have affected the world this year, the sheer number of offers made to Dan to commentate on both domestic and international shows over the last 18 months has shown Dan that he’s well on track in achieving his goals.
“I think it’s doing good business, being a good lad, taking care of people and just being a nice lad, it solves a lot of things I think. When it comes to me and the fighters, I don’t just have a normal relationship with the fighters, it’s more than that. I don’t know quite how to explain it, but it’s more than that. If you’ve seen my show, you can probably tell, I’m being as genuine as I can be. I’m interested in what they’re doing, what they’ve got to say and I’ll do whatever I can to help. It’s not like a standard press conference where there’s hundreds of reporters and the fighters don’t want to talk to them – they want the fans to hear their story.”
All elements that Dan has been able to succesfully channel throughout his journey.
With Boxing TV as his feature and the commentary gigs increasing in stature, a major offer soon came from closer to home.
Dan pictured working Stateside with El Tigre Promotions
On 20th May 2020, BIBA announced that Dan Hewitt had been appointed lead commentator by Go Sports & Entertainment, the broadcast division of the British & Irish Boxing Authority.
This opportunity has seen Dan commentate on BIBA and Assassin Promotions fight series, "Let Battle Commence", the first card featured Scott Harrison's much anticipated return to the ring against Paul Peers.
"I'm on a contract with BIBA and I'm learning what they're all about. They want to improve, they've brought some new people in, and they've done a great job with the shows in Aberdeen through lockdown. They were keen on what I was doing and we decided that we could work wel together. They put me on course, through their distributor, with Sports Channel Network and FITE TV - which has given Boxing TV a whole new audience. Boxing TV has made it's way on to Freeview which is a huge step! And for me, being on FITE TV, that's a massive step up. They've got something like three and a half million paid subscribers, it's been massive for me to have that kind of support."
"Since we've stepped up together, I've had some amazing guests on the last couple of series (the first two seasons of Boxing TV to hit FITE TV and Sports Channel Network). We've had Joe Joyce, Teofimo Lopez, Kelly Pavlik, Amir Khan I mean, I could carry on, but it's just been superstars of world boxing, just coming on and having a laugh! It's just a different angle that I like to take with the show. And taking the next step up has worked very well for everyone involved."
Dan's commentary offers a technical insight that seems to be missing from what we see from mainstream broadcasters worldwide. When questioned further, Dan went on to explain: -
"Being more honest, being more analytic, using my own boxing experience to give a bit of insight, just being more fair is what my commentary is all about. I’ve had away fighters come to me after fights and thank me, they tell me they’d never been given a fair shot before.”
Clearly well on his way to achieving his goals in the business, Dan has taken a look at the game that he's in and told us exactly what he's looking to achieve.
"I want to be the next Buncey. But more on the commentator side. That’s my thing. I mean, I love what I do. I don’t’ really know how to explain it but it’s a pleasure. I’ve done a show before where I’ve done 14 fights in one night, in America, and I’m shattered, couldn’t even eat after it, never mind speak, but I love it you know. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Dan's latest broadcast - hosting the E-Press Conference between light heavyweights Gilberto Ramirez and Afonso Lopez
Joshua-Fury - Who wins?
Having dreams of one day commentating on the biggest fights in boxing himself, we asked Dan to give us his take on a potential Joshua-Fury showdown could look like...
"There's only really one winner for me, and I've thought this for quite some time. Fury boxes his head off for me. I'll be honest, I do believe that. Again, respect to both fighters because let's face it, they'd be getting in the ring for our entertainment wouldn't they? But the truth of it is, Fury is better in every department. He's taller, he's longer, he's arguably faster, I think he's just a strong, it's just more obvious to see Joshua's strength. But I think he gives him a boxing lesson.
The obvious questions to ask perhaps: - Does Joshua have a chance in this fight?
"I've had this conversation with so many fighters! I've always said that when I'm in a position where I can't get give anyone advice, because I only see one winner, I mean, there's always a way to win, there's no doubt about that. He needs to be incredibly fit because he needs to get in and out, and work when he wants to work. He has to close the distance, because he if doesn't, he will get his head boxed off. But realistically, Fury can fight on the inside as well so it's a tough one. You can look at it another way, you could say that Joshua has to be heavier like he's come in before, to try and just bully Fury, but I think again, Fury is just too big. Personally, I don't see any way that Joshua can beat Fury. A punchers chance, possibly."
An answer that leaves no further questions to be asked, Dan finds himself in a position where holding back and not being honest isn't on the agenda. Infact, he takes great joy in reminding me that he knew I would stay up and watch the recent Tyson-Jones Jnr exhibition.
"You wouldn't have been a boxing fan if you hadn't! It was good for boxing but it wasn't quite what we saw in the promo videos and photos was it? There was this photo that made him (Tyson) look like the Hulk, and when he came out, he just wasn't. They both clearly loved being back in the ring so massive respect to them really!
This brings up the Youtube situation....
"There are positives to it, perhaps even more so than the Tyson-Jones Jnr fight, because it brings a totally new audience to the sport. The thing with it though, is that, it's starting to get a little bit silly... When KSI and Logan Paul fought...A one off is alright, no doubt about it... but when you get people like Jake Paul saying he's the saviour of boxing and he's going to beat Canelo... He's got absolutely no chance against an Area champion, letalone a decent amateur or pro! It's just getting a bit daft. It doesn't make any sense for me to see Mayweather fight Logan Paul. Money, yes, but there's no other reason. Let's have this last one and then let's just leave it for a bit."
Dan with Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn
Closing 2020 in style, looking to 2021
As for 2020, Boxing TV see out the remainder of the year going into 2021 with a series of unseen interviews that feature Trisha Morrison, Mauricio Sulaiman, Oscar Valdez, Barry Jones, Maurice Hooker & DeMarcus Corey, Gary Lockett and the legendary James Toney.
"You'll absolutely love the James Toney interview! He had some very interesting things to say about one of our top heavyweights!"
Starting on Boxing Day, the seven days of newly released interviews will start with a fascinating episode, 'The True Tommy Morrison Story", in which Boxing TV premiere an excusive interview with Trisha Morrison, who gives her insight in to the real truth about 'The Duke'.
With everyone hoping for restrictions to be lifted as soon as safely possible, Dan looks forward to commentating on new events with BIBA, the release of Season 3 of the new look Boxing TV and the prospects of a fresh year ahead to further an already glowing career.