Frank and 'arry - back in action for ONdigital's Tyson return

12th January 1999

They're the most famous double act in British boxing. And this weekend Frank Bruno and Harry Carpenter will be working out of the same corner for new broadcaster ONdigital as commentators for Mike Tyson's eagerly-awaited return to the ring.

ONdigital - the world's first digital terrestrial pay TV company - are showing exclusive free live coverage of Tyson's heavyweight clash with South African Francois Botha from Las Vegas on January 16 as part of a multi-fight deal.

With Ondigital there's no need for a dish or cable, you receive it through your normal television aerial.

The choice of Bruno and Carpenter to provide the studio comment will rekindle a relationship which dates back nearly 20 years to the ABA championships, when Frank won the English amateur heavyweight title.

While the victory marked the start of Frank's rise to eventually becoming world champion, for Harry it provided a welcome filip to the sport.

"He gave me a whole new interest in my boxing commentating career. Once Muhammad Ali had gone, up pops this guy and all of a sudden, I've got a whole new lease of life," said Harry.

Their post-fight interviews are legendary with Frank's "You know what I mean 'arry!" becoming the most mimicked sporting catchphrase of modern times.

It's a relationship that has turned into a deep friendship over the years and the respect they hold for each other is immense.

"He's a shrewd professional and a very nice person," says Bruno. "Harry can do it all - boxing, tennis, golf - I've got to have a lot of respect for him he's a legend in his own right. I feel honoured to be working with him at the weekend."

Both Frank and Harry believe that Tyson should win, but his mental state following his ban for biting Evander Holyfield's ear and a pending court-case while still on parole, make it hard to call with any certainty.

Harry says: "It's going to be very interesting because Tyson is so interesting. He's been out of the ring for about 18 months or so after the ear-biting incident and nobody, probably not even himself, quite knows how he's going to perform when he gets back in again.

"He's had so many of these interuptions in his career. He's only had ten fights or so in the last 10 years, so his form is always going to be problematical!"

"I don't think the guy he's got is all that easy actually. I know people say Botha's got no chance, but this man did hold the IBF world title and he's only lost once and that was after 12 rounds with Michael Moorer.

"He's strong and he's game. If he can get through the first two or three rounds, there's no telling what might happen. Tyson is a front-runner and once things begin to go a little bit wrong for him he doesn't have any ideas left. He's very much a one thought fighter."

Bruno believes much will depend on Tyson's attitude. "His mental state must be pretty haywire with all sorts of different things going on in his brain," he said.

"Botha's a character and he helps put bums on seats, but whether he can trouble Tyson, that's another thing! He seems confident and thinks he has the measure of Tyson which make it interesting. But I still see Tyson being the winner. I think Botha will make it difficult for a couple of rounds but I see Tyson stopping him or knocking him out."

Whatever the outcome, the audience watching ONdigital's coverage will have informed and entertained in a quite unique way.

Frank and Harry have never worked together as studio commentators before and Bruno says: "I can't get too cheeky because he knows his business and he'll tie me up in knots. Either that or he'll slap me and beat me up, so I'd better behave!"

Jim Rosenthal will introduce coverage of the undercard from 1am in the early hours of Sunday morning (Jan 17th) with the main event due to start at Ringside in Las Vegas for ONdigital will be the voice of boxing Reg Gutteridge with former British Heayweight champion Gary Mason.

ONdigital beat off bids from satellite and cable to secure the deal through the Media Partners agency.

The show will be broadcast on FirstONdigital a premium events channel that will be used to premiere exclusives such as blockbuster movies, live concerts, top dramas and other sporting events. £20 million will be invested in its exclusive broadcasting schedules during 1999.