By Martin Ross
IMG Media, the media arm of the international sports and entertainment agency, has reached an agreement to distribute the international media rights to the title fights of world heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko.
IMG said that the agreement, which excludes Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Ukraine, will run until the end of Klitschko’s career.
IMG Media will take over from Sportfive, the international sports marketing agency, in distributing international broadcast rights to the fights of the 37-year-old Wladimir Klitschko, the IBF, IBO, WBO and WBA world champion.
Under the terms of the deal struck with Klitschko Management Group, IMG Media will also market the complete archive of both Wladimir and his brother Vitali’s fights dating back to 2004.
IMG Media will also be "actively seeking endorsement opportunities for Wladimir and looking to advise on potential sites for future fights together with hospitality packages," IMG said.
In May 2012, Sportfive announced an exclusive deal to market the international media rights (excluding Ukraine, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, USA, Canada and Puerto Rico) to fights involving Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko until the end of 2013, renewing its relationship with KMG.
Sportfive announced a revision of its business model 12 months ago, saying that it would reduce its level of media rights trading and increase its activities in marketing sponsorship rights.
The 42-year-old Vitali Klitscho stepped away from boxing at the end of last year to concentrate on a career in Ukrainian politics.
Wladimir Klitschko said today: "IMG is a truly professional team and they have long and successful experience in the business. I look forward to our cooperation and see it as the beginning of a mutual partnership."
Bernd Bönte, KMG’s chief executive, added: "Through this cooperation with the leading sports marketing agency we will improve our global awareness and marketing opportunities. This long-term agreement enables both sides to plan ahead together – one of the keys for a successful partnership."
Meanwhile, Michel Masquelier, President of IMG Media, commented: "Working with Wladimir provides us with an excellent opportunity to move into boxing at the very highest level. He has an outstanding record and is an exceptional boxer and a well-respected personality. We are looking forward to a successful relationship with one of the greatest heavyweight boxers in the history of the sport."
IMG’s move into boxing "at the very highest level" marks a return to distributing rights in the sport. In 2008, IMG was announced as a partner in AIBA’s World Series of Boxing, but in 2011 decided to withdraw from its investment in the series, in which it held a 25-per-cent stake.
Triumph Media Group, the Hamburg-based sports marketing agency, previously held selected international broadcast distribution rights to the fights of the Klitschkos, albeit Sportfive was brought in to market rights in most territories for Wladimir Klitschko’s contest with the UK’s David Haye in July 2011.
Sportfive also represented the Klitschkos’ international broadcast rights for six years before they split with the agency to form KMG in October 2007.