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Boxing's chance to shine

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Ben Dirs | 10:14 UK time, Monday, 7 March 2011

Every class has got one: a gifted kid capable of exceptional things - who spends most of his time mucking about. Once in a while, he will give a reminder of his talent, producing a standout piece of work. But usually he just mucks about, infuriating those who show faith in him, letting everyone down. Especially himself.

This is how I view boxing. A sport capable of scaling vertiginous dramatic heights, of producing incomparable displays of bravery and remarkable feats of skill, all too often it is guilty of selling itself short.

And that's the thing about the gifted kid who mucks about, even his most ardent supporters eventually lose faith and he is condemned to fester at the back of the classroom, insignificant and ignored.

The good news for fans of boxing is that it could be about to produce one of those rare standout pieces of work: David Haye v Wladimir Klitschko this summer, arguably the first heavyweight world title fight of any real significance since Haye's fellow Brit Lennox Lewis defeated Wladimir's older brother Vitali in 2003.

Wladimir Klitschko (left) and David Haye

Klitschko (left) and Haye were first scheduled to meet in 2009. Photo: Getty Images

Hardcore fans are wont to point out that boxing does exist outside the heavyweight division, that the smaller men are keeping the sport's end up. But there are few names that resonate with the wider public. And those that do - Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, for example - stubbornly refuse to get it on. Their proposed contest, which some had billed as boxing's "last great fight", might now never actually happen.

As a consequence, the match between Londoner Haye, the WBA title-holder, and Ukrainian Klitschko, the IBF and WBO champion, takes on even greater importance. It is just a wonder anyone is still interested, so tortuous and, let's face it, tedious have the negotiations been.

"The bottom line is that it has come down to egos and money - this TV deal and that TV deal," opines Klitschko's trainer Emanuel Steward, who claims it took 15 minutes to make the classic fight between his man Tommy Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard back in 1981. "It is totally ridiculous. What's happening right now is simply hurting boxing. Killing it."

But let's leave aside who was chiefly to blame for a bout that was first slated to take place in June 2009 taking a further two years to come to fruition.

Instead, let's look forward to a rare break in the clouds for a dreary heavyweight division, one that has seen little sunshine since the night Lewis, perhaps the division's last true great, stopped a game Vitali Klitschko on cuts in what was to be the Briton's final fight.

Haye and Klitschko didn't seem to like each other much when they almost got it on before, so two years of talking is sure to have soured their relationship further. Expect the usual trash from Haye - he set the tone on Sunday by labelling Klitschko a hyena - and lots of bewildered shrugs from Klitschko, even though he knows the score: every ugly slur from Haye is a potential headline, every headline an extra 'kerching!'.

There are those who think Haye should show a little more respect. But the man's not stupid. Boxing's boom time is long over. If you don't make a song and dance nowadays, a lot of potential customers won't tune in. Just ask Nottingham's Carl Froch, a decent man and a very decent fighter, whose four contests since winning the WBC super-middleweight title have been shown on an obscure satellite channel. Not enough noise, you see.

Those expecting fireworks on fight night could be disappointed. Haye, who will be giving up four inches in height and in the region of 30lb in weight to Klitschko, has little to gain from standing and trading. Therefore, it could be a repeat of the Briton's clash with Nikolay Valuev. Haye won that fight on points, moving quickly in and out of the the giant Russian's reach and banking on his superior speed of both hands and feet.

That said, both men bring plenty of power, while there is the perception they both have suspect chins. Throw into the mix Haye's low-slung hands and Klitschko's habit of dropping his right after it has landed, and there might just be some excitement after all. Haye will figure he can detonate a left hook over that limp right hand. Unless, of course, Klitschko's right hand has already detonated.

But whether the fight is a spectacle or not is secondary to the fact they managed to nail it down in the first place. What the public wants from boxing is the best taking on the best in each division - build fights that make sense and they will come. But most of all, what the public wants is for boxing to stop mucking about and letting everyone down.
Especially itself.

As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about - or on the sofa - at http://twitter.com/bendirs1 

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Just glad it's finally being made, regardless of the outcome.

    It gives Wlad a golden chance, if everything goes right, to have a high-profile knockout victory over a dangerous challenger and put a huge mark on his legacy to a media outside Eastern Europe and Germany that's often been unimpressed and cynical about his performances.

    For Haye, going into the lion's den and beating Wladimir would give an even huger boost to his standing and justify all his mindgames and trash-talking. He'd arguably be the best British heavyweight outside of Lewis and best former cruiser since Holyfield.

    There are more eerie similarities between this fight and the obstacles that were in the path of the Lewis-Holyfield fight in 1999. Let's hope that they don't follow that example as well, by blotting their opportunity and copybook massively if it comes to the scorecards...

  • Comment number 2.

    'arguably the first heavyweight world title fight of any real significance since Haye's fellow Brit Lennox Lewis defeated Wladimir's older brother Vitali in 2003. '

    Look, I appreciate that you are not a full-time boxing writer but this is slightly specious. When Lewis and Klitshko fought, VK was a late replacement for Kirk Johnson, at the time of the fight it was merely a slot filler. Nobody outside of Eastern Europe knew who Klitschko was!

    The only reason it is given retrospective relevance is because of how Klitschko performed and what he has done since.

    The last meaningful Heavyweight clash was Lewis/Holyfield - the two best HW's in the world and both had worldwide notoriety.

    'But there are few names that resonate with the wider public.'

    I know this may be sacriligious to you but could the BBC's dogged refusal to televise boxing - yet continuing to offer such obscure sports as Moto GP and showjumping - have something to do with this, perhaps?

  • Comment number 3.

    Great blog, I really can't pick this fight at all. Agree 100% with Manny Steward though. There should be one ranking system with a clearly defined points system. That way fighters couldn't 'duck' fights and the public get's to see what it so desperately needs. The issue you've got is the promoters have no incentive to send their guy into difficult fights in case they got knocked out and their command for money and purse size decreases. Something wrong with that and the boxing authorities need to get together to sort it out.

  • Comment number 4.

    jerd16 - I take your point about the popularity of boxing maybe being linked to it not being on terrestrial television, but the fact is that the BBC could never afford to sign the kind of contract that would be required to screen bouts like this - it could not sell any advertising time to offset the cost, and the many millions who are not into boxing would see it as a massive waste of licence-payers' money. The beauty of Moto GP, Showjumping, Snooker etc. is that they are relatively cheap to put on air, leaving the BBC free to spend its budget creating high quality programmes.

    I can't wait for this fight - I think Haye is wonderful for the Heavyweight division as he brings a bit of character back which has been sorely missing since the likes of Tyson. He's also a genuinely good fighter - you don't unify the cruiserweight division then win and defend a heavyweight title without being pretty good.

    Ben, if Haye wins but cannot make a fight with Vitali happen before his 31st birthday, do you think he'll still retire? I don't understand this fascination he has with his 31st birthday - if I were him I'd say that I'd retire after I'd fought both brothers, not on a specific date. What if he gets injured? Does he still stick to his word?

  • Comment number 5.

    I've personally felt that Haye's birthday retirement declaration was a tactic to try to force a fight like this into happening.

  • Comment number 6.

    As a sportsfan, I'm always on the edge with boxing, I'll more than happily watch a boxing match and the hype builds to that up to it but I'm just left to wonder why you can get situations when you have two undefeated fighters in the same era and same weigh division, just seems a bit farcial to me. The red tape and personalities seem to destroy any hope of me getting really into boxing.

    Why is this fight being held in Germany and not somewhere with the glitz of Las Vegas or New York?

  • Comment number 7.

    'I take your point about the popularity of boxing maybe being linked to it not being on terrestrial television, but the fact is that the BBC could never afford to sign the kind of contract that would be required to screen bouts like this'

    I made no reference to them screening this bout.

    The comment by the author was made in the context of creating household names. Fighters become popular because of exposure - there is no greater exposure than network television. It should act like a feeder system, with BBC/ITV/Channel 4 purchasing broadcasting rights to lower level fights or particular fighters - establishing them before they graduate to multi-million pound pay deals that only satellite/cable broadcasters can afford.

    'The beauty of Moto GP, Showjumping, Snooker etc. is that they are relatively cheap to put on air, leaving the BBC free to spend its budget creating high quality programmes. '

    Thats all well and good but Moto GP averages around 1-1.2m viewers. David Haye' PPV bout against Nikolay Valuev sold 750,000 units - to an already limited audience of Sky subscribers.

    I do not want to debate what constitutes 'high quality programmes' because I find BBC very dubious in this regard but a fringe sport such as Moto GP, why offer it at all, if the only purpose is to supplement other shows?

  • Comment number 8.

    'Why is this fight being held in Germany and not somewhere with the glitz of Las Vegas or New York?'

    ViewfromVerve - I totally agree with you that a fight of this magnitude belongs in such prestigious settings.

    However, Klitshcko has categorically stated he won't fight in the US because of two reasons - i) He attributes the poor hospitality and build as the reason for his KO losses - both suffered in US, ii) HBO (one of the two main broadcasters of boxing in US) refused to televise any more Klitshcko fights last year - after continuing dwindling viewing figures.

  • Comment number 9.

    Chisora must be annoyed that he has been written off already before the fight has even taken place. If, and it is a big if, Chisora wins then what? Will Haye still want to fight WK if there is no unification prospects? Considering he has two fights before he retires and wants to unify the division then he may try to pull out and fight VK instead.

  • Comment number 10.

    Poster 9, The Chisora fight has been cancelled, with a probable nice sized cheque for not throwing a punch to go to Chisora.

    Its no secret that boxing needs to improve its image, and the Ring standings for each weight should be compulsory for all belt organisations to use so they cant fudge their own to suit each fight as it arises.

  • Comment number 11.

    " 'Why is this fight being held in Germany and not somewhere with the glitz of Las Vegas or New York?'

    ViewfromVerve - I totally agree with you that a fight of this magnitude belongs in such prestigious settings."

    For a couple of reasons.
    (1) Madison Square garden (only real NY venue) is a terrible boxing venue, with low revenues and high overheads. Even popular fighters from the NY area don't fight there (see Adamek, who could fill MSG in a heartbeat).
    (2)Casinos (vegas venues) only make sense if they are willing to bankroll the fight to make up for the tiny attendance. Most casino fights get about 5k people. If you could only draw 10k to the fight elsewhere then that's fine, but Haye and Klitschko can draw 60k people easy, and the casino can't compete with that sort of revenue.

    "However, Klitshcko has categorically stated he won't fight in the US because of two reasons - i) He attributes the poor hospitality and build as the reason for his KO losses - both suffered in US"

    That's not true, he's been knocked out three times, once in the US (Lamon Brewster), once in Germany (Corrie Sanders), and once in his native Ukraine (Ross Purrity). Since his last loss he fought his biggest fight in the US (Ibragimov unification) and he's had three other fights in the USA since the loss as well (Williamson, Brock, Peter 1). This fight is not there because the money in the HW division is not linked to the US market as much as it used to be, and there are bigger paydays to be had elsewhere. This is especially true when we don't have a US fighter in the fight.


    Back on the subject I'm looking forward to this fight and think that Haye could really pull off the upset. My only concern is that fighting in Germany, with a German physician, partisan crowd, who knows what ref. You know what they say, you've got to knock 'em out in Germany just to get the draw.

  • Comment number 12.

    UFC! UFC! UFC! UFC! UFC! UFC! UFC! not just UFC but almost all other MMA promotions who continue to give us, the fans the fights we want to see. now i know boxing is all politics and ego, but 90% of all top fighters will eventually fight each other at some point, champions always fight number one contenders and always the best opposition in their division, and thier organization! boxing is dying a slow death due to all the behind the scenes nonsense that goes on, fighters always bad mouthing each other only to cite minor things in avoiding fight. Man up and just get it on!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    mozaa1983 has it spot on, in most MMA promotions, the thing that makes it so exciting and keeps you on the edge of your seat is that there is no "grooming" of fighters to protect their win streak and the precious zero losses on their record. Many fights in MMA are extremley hard to call, they could go either way, if someone actually manages to keep a loss off their record in MMA, they truly are an exception. What is important is that fighters continue to put on a good show for the fans, regardless of whether they win or lose, they will continue to attract good contracts and earn top dollar.

  • Comment number 14.

    My prediction would be Haye to win by decision but not without a few scares during the fight.

    It’s safe to say it won’t be a thrilling fight more likely to be an intriguing chess match.

    With regard to the location it seems like it being held in Germany is central to the negotiations so its not going to change and im not sure how much interest there is in the states this fight, centrally not the coverage it will get over her in Europe.

  • Comment number 15.

    @jerd16 - I don't think you can really expect BBC/ITV to foot the bill for developing new talent and helping fighters make a name for themselves, only to see the big pay-days disappear to Sky.

    Just look at ITV; they dipped their toe in the water recently with Khan and Calzaghe, who both benefited from the exposure and prominently headed over to Sky when the big fights came along.

    Anyway, glad this fight has finally been made. I lean slightly towards Haye due to his speed and general attitude. He could be in big trouble if he gets caught clean though.

  • Comment number 16.

    Loving post 12 from mozza1983. UFC is sadly the real deal in so many ways because there is only one title per weight. They even took over/merged with Pride Fighting just to make sure this was the case. There are some small franchises going but there have to be for younger fighters and old lions who can't cut it anymore, but these only serve to publicise the main attraction.


    @jerd16, not sure what you mean by the viewing figures. Okay I can't stand equestrianism in any form, but MotoGP gets a lot more than 1-1.2 million from what I know, has 20 odd races and costs a fraction. Another point is that Harrison and Haye sold nearly as many PPV units as Valuev?? I would have guessed the value for money aspect would put them off it entirely??

    Aren't certain sports on a protected list of some description?? I know there was a huge uproar when the Ashes went onto sky, the same years back for live football coverage...

  • Comment number 17.

    This will be a highlight in Boxing and the sporting year. But as a couple of posts have already mentioned the problems of boxing run deeper.

    Boxing has chased the Sky Box Office Money and left behind the fans. I'm sure these two will be happy pocketing £££ for a one off fight but most people won't care because they have not heard of them.

    Boxing needs to be on 'regular' television, ie Freeview. Not big fights but regular fights that people can watch without spending £18 on and stay awake till 2am to watch a fight that lasts 30 seconds.

    Viewers will appreciate championing a star who they have seen work their way up for very little money to reach the FA Cup final of boxing. I belive a show call the contender tried this previously? Britain has a great supply of local boxers at all weights. Let's give them some coverage.

    PS. Athletics has the same problem.

  • Comment number 18.

    Slightly off topic but Wladimir is dating Hayden Panettiere (Cute cheerleader from Hero’s) surely that is Wikipedia lying to me, as usual?

    That’s more of a physical mismatch then the proposed Chisora fight.

  • Comment number 19.

    jerd16,

    MotoGP is not an obscure or fringe sport. It is, at the moment, the pinnacle of motorsport. I suspect the reason the viewing figures are as low on the BBC is because it was, for years previously, covered excellently on Eurosport, and many, myself included, don't bother with the BBC, wait an hour or so, and watch the delayed start on Eurosport.

    So it's not a fringe sport, but you are right in that the BBC shouldn't be doing it.

    Having said that you are dead right about the lack of coverage of boxing.

  • Comment number 20.

    ITV also bought up Audley Harrison's first ten (?) fights when he turned pro, I think. I think they're the only terrestrial channel with the buying power to get big fights, as the associated advertising revenue will offset the outlay. I guess you could compare it with the Champions League football.

    Unfortunately, I can't see them buying up the biggies. I'm not sure the demand would be there anymore.




  • Comment number 21.

    I really believe Haye will knock him out ...Klitchko has never felt power like Haye has to wield ....Haye just has to stay disciplined ..watch his low hands and he will prevail ...people forget so easily how robotic the Klitchko's are ...Haye's movement and power will be too much for Vladmir who ...supposedly the better boxer ...will get the fear when he feels Haye's power.
    Just so happy this fight is finally on !

  • Comment number 22.

    It's good that they've finally got this arranged, but I can't see much hope for Haye to be honest. He simply has to knock Wladimir out. I can see this having similarities to the Flloyd v. Hatton fight: a lot of talking by the contender to generate interest resulting in a high profile fight before the loud-mouth gets schooled. I have nothing against Haye -- I understand that his talking is simply to sell tickets, and I respect him for doing it in this post-boom era. It would be great if he can do it.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    the idea that one ranking system will ever be transparent is ridiculous. We'll go back to the days where corruption was rife and Americans won everything. the problem is if a fighter gets injured and then opts for a break he can remain champion for a year without fighting. Having many titles is bad but having one has its pit falls as well.
    people mention UFC as the standout reason why one title works but ask Fedor fans whether the current UFC heavyweight champ is number one and they'll claim no because they offer Fedor no money and then pretend as though he ducked this guy or that.
    Boxing may never be like it once was and will never steal all the headlines away from football but Boxing is a business first and sport secodn. people grow up as a football fan but have no reason to support a boxer. If jonny Nelson was my neighbour i wouldn't have seen him. world champion and all but he wasn't exciting and therefore why should i pay my money whereas football is ingrained (or any other team sport). However, i would say that a big boxing fight will always capture the publics imagination and surpass nearly any other sporting event.

  • Comment number 25.

    It's very good for boxing that this meaningful heavyweight fight - as opposed to Haye's last 'defence' against Fraudley 'Parcelforce' Harrison - is happening. Personally I don't believe all the 'I'll-retire-at-thirty' noises so I feared this would be dragged out so long, it would be a bath chairs in the OAP home encounter.

    I think Haye will win. Both fighters have had stamina issues exposed in the past - Thompson and Brewster - but Haye is younger and more mobile than Wlad. Judging from their appearances on 'Ringside,' they are both decent guys who respect the sport. Haye was very complimentary about Carl Froch - which showed class. Good to see big time boxing back.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think we should start with bets as to whether the fight will go ahead, let alone the result!

  • Comment number 27.

    jerd16 - Yes, but one of the quirks of history is that things that seemed insignificant at the time become significant in hindsight. If you know your boxing history, then you'll know a couple of thousand people watched Ali-Liston II in Lewiston, Maine. People just weren't interested. But who now would say that was an insignificant fight? The same goes for Lewis-Vitali - the latter has proved how good he is in the intervening seven years. He was, and is, no mug. Nice word though, 'specious'.

    As for the BBC's "dogged refusal to show boxing", well, obviously I'd love for the BBC to show some. But, as others have pointed out, the costs involved in the biggest fights make it very difficult for a public organisation like the BBC to justify, while showing up-and-coming fighters also has its problems, in that they'll be off to other pastures as soon as they realise there is bigger money to be made. Plus, the BBC doesn't really showcase 'up-and-comers' in any other sports, it almost always shows the cream, whether it's top-class athletics, MotoGP, snooker, whatever, and it might be difficult to justify breaking that rule for boxing. Plus, as someone else has pointed out, not everyone is into boxing, whatever we would like to think. It's complicated, I'll admit

    0darroch - I suspect he might fight beyond his 31st, if only by a couple of months.

    Viewfromverve - It's being held in Germany because there is a huge appetite for it there and they'll get 70,000 in a football stadium to watch it. That against 17,000 in the MGM Grand, in a country where Haye and Klitschko mean little. Plus, boxing's not what it was in the States, the days when any significant fight had to be there are long gone.

    mozza1983 - Though I don't want this to turn into a boxing v MMA debate, it's true that boxing can learn a lot from its rival sport.

  • Comment number 28.

    #24 - in regards to fedor, he has lost his last two fights and ha now retired, granted 5 - 8 ys ago he was the best hw on the planet, but age and lack of size has now caught up with him along with the evolution of MMA in genaral. the 'myth' surrounding fedor being unbeatable in the ufc is here nor there as he he lost to a fighter who got cut in the UFC as he was deemed not good enough. fedor fans need to realize that there was life after Pride, and the ufc was the place to be to fight the best, and for reasons unknown to joe public, he never came........

  • Comment number 29.

    @10 - I thought I had been rescheduled but obviously not, so fair point!

    @14 - I believe they have been dating for a while and may even be engaged, but I agree it is a very odd match up.

  • Comment number 30.

    ben dirs - i hate the MMA vs Boxing debate, it is what it is, boxing will always suffer for the politics and egos involved. MMA cannot continue with the rapid growth it has seen and its popularity will slowly subside. the one thing boxing has over mma is history, boxing has stood the test of time. MMA is less than 20 yrs old, will it still be here in 100 yrs time......i don't think so...

  • Comment number 31.

    I agree mozza1983 that Fedor a few years ago may not have won. The problem is he never fought Brock ,he is definitely not the best MMA heavyweight. the problem was afflcition offered him $1.8 and the UFC 300k. Fedor may well have been beaten but imagine if Calzaghe never fought Lacy the same could be said. My overall point is that all combat sports suffer from promoters or organisations looking after there products whereas Nadal will always play Federer.

    However, when great fights are made Boxing will always shine brightly and one day in this country maybe MMA too.
    I'm just happy this fight is happening as last time i was annoyed i didn't get tickets in 2009 and i'd have had to was wlad vs Chagaev

  • Comment number 32.

    mozza1983 - Yep, as I said, I agree, boxing is suffering from excessive politics, and probably always will. I'm not so sure about MMA either, I'm not convinced it can sustain this success and I suspect it will become more and more fragmented, while boxing's purity and history are two of its main advantages.

  • Comment number 33.

    Hi Ben,

    Great blog. Out of interest what do you see next for Chisora, crushing though this will be for him I really thought the fight was well too soon.

    There are quite a few up and coming UK Heavyweights, I would love to see Chisra and Tyson Fury get into the ring together. What do you think?

  • Comment number 34.

    @ ManUtdsince1987, a quick google images search proved it isn’t as made up and ridiculous as it sounds, im sure they have a lot in common?!

    Does anybody know which “football Stadium” this is proposed to be held at?
    Im not a huge fan of boxing in football stadiums compared to smaller arenas, but money talks I guess.

    Re the MMA debate, it’s irrelevant like debating which is better Football or Rugby, but the ridiculous situation boxing has got itself into with endless politics and multiple titles is depressing.
    My faint hope is if Golden Boy (for example) could get so big that they have all the significant fighters in their stable everyone has to get on board with them, that we can do away with the various titles and have just one linier champion in each division.

    Audrey Harrison ruined boxing on terrestrial TV, if in doubt always blame Audley...

  • Comment number 35.

    Thanks for the reply Ben.

    Again though, I find your response to be slightly erroneous. Let me correct you on a few points.

    'If you know your boxing history, then you'll know a couple of thousand people watched Ali-Liston II in Lewiston, Maine. People just weren't interested. But who now would say that was an insignificant fight?'

    The fight was originally scheduled for the 18000 seater stadium in Massachusetts. An injury to Ali or Liston - I can't remember which one - meant an enforced postponement and neithers promoter had renewed MA licence. Therefore it took place in this remote location which was 200 miles north of MA in a small auditorium. The television viewing figures were astronomical.

    So an attempt to use the small attendance of a historically important fight as justification that hindsight embellishes previous events is misguided. That was at the time for THE HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP, they were the two best HW's in the world and two of the most well-known sportsmen in the world at the time.

    'The same goes for Lewis-Vitali - the latter has proved how good he is in the intervening seven years.'

    No, it doesn't. It was not a big HW fight at the time. It started the trend in the US for HW boxing to be removed from PPV!

    If you apply your logic that hindsight judges the significance of a fight, then a bout between two 3-fight novices that go on to become world champions could be categorised as being important. I'm sorry the last HW fight of significance - i.e featured two well known world champion fighters - was Holyfield/Lewis.

  • Comment number 36.

    Absolutely delighted this fight is now on. What's upset me is the timing, if it's the 25th June I'm at Glastonbury and if it's the week later I'm on a stag do!! If it's the Glasto weekend I might have to start getting on Mr Eavis' back to put up a big screen again like for the footy last year.

    Anyway onto the fight. As others have said the promoters are no mugs, they'll stage the fight wherever the interest will be greatest and wherever the most money can be made. In this instance it certainly wouldn't be anywhere in the US. With no top American heavyweights around the country has fallen out of love with the division. It's a shame but understandable.

    Personally I think Haye will win this one. I don't say that with any degree of certainty, neither fighter is perfect. Through no fault of his own I think Wladimir has had things too easy for too long. The heavyweight division has been devoid of real talent for a while. Yes Wladimir's beaten the best that's been put in front of him but he doesn't look like he can change his style or adapt to another boxer in the ring. Who knows maybe he can and he just hasn't had to yet. But his style is simply jab his opponent to death. It's fair enough it's worked for him, but if it's not working against Haye does he have a plan B to go to?

    Haye hasn't had to fight the greatest fighters the division's ever had to offer either but I think he's got better each time and has had it a bit tougher than Wlad, last fight against Audrey is obviously the exception. But Valuev was a tough proposition and he managed to keep away from him for 12 rounds fighting the perfect gameplan. Valuev isn't a great heavyweight but he's incredibly tough to beat simply because of his size yet Haye managed to do it and sensibly.

  • Comment number 37.

    Good point #34, the BBC got burned badly backing Audrey. It was their own fault but a lot was made of the £1m 10 fight deal they signed him up to. Surely they should have seen there was a reason why at the age of 30 he was still fighting as an amatuer and hadn't turned pro. Because promotors wouldn't offer him decent terms because they weren't convinced. Fair play to him he went and won gold and signed a lucrative deal on teh back of it. But the BBC can't risk another failure like that when there is so much talk of cost cutting exercises etc. Sky are happy to offer the bigger money for the fights so there's no real need for the BBC to get involved in a bidding war that would result in nothing but bad press for them.

  • Comment number 38.

    You wouldn't say it was Lewis/Tyson in 2002?
    1.8 million buys and over a hundred million in revenue from the tv audience alone.

    Lewis-Vitali supposedly did a very big number for HBO, actually, even if it wasn't on PPV. And a large part of the reason it wasn't on PPV was due to it being a hasty re-arrange when Lewis-Johnson fell through.

    And sadly, HW boxing has NOT been in a trend for fights to not be on PPV in the US, it's the other way around and that's been part of the whole problem. Too many boxing cards, often really poor boxing cards, that you'd have to pay to watch rather than it being on basic cable. Unless someone wants to really talk up, say, the Holyfield-Botha PPV from last year as being worth the cash, for instance?

  • Comment number 39.

    It's a joke that boxers get to pick their own opponents, it doesn't happen in any other sport.

    Imagine if tennis was like that. Roger Federer would turn up at Wimbledon, beat some old fat bloke and go home with the trophy. Nobody would watch that, just like nobody is interested in boxing anymore.

  • Comment number 40.

    @Murray #39, but Roger Federer does decide which tournaments he enters...
    Unfortunately boxing (at 12 round level) is fairly unique that competitors only compete 2 or 3 times a year (often even less) so tournaments (like the super six has showed) are difficult to facilitate and lose momentum over such a long period of time.

  • Comment number 41.

    'You wouldn't say it was Lewis/Tyson in 2002?
    1.8 million buys and over a hundred million in revenue from the tv audience alone.'

    I guess you could make that argument, purely on the superficial basis of money-generated/viewing figures. BUT, Tyson was not considered the No.2 or even No.3 by all online and magazine publications at the time of Lewis fight. Hence why I and many boxing commentators are reluctant to categorise it as historically relevant.

    'Lewis-Vitali supposedly did a very big number for HBO, actually, even if it wasn't on PPV. And a large part of the reason it wasn't on PPV was due to it being a hasty re-arrange when Lewis-Johnson fell through.'

    Lewis/Johnson was scheduled for PPV, so if Klitshcko was considered to be a legitimate contender, they wouldn't have felt unjustified continuing with PPV, even if it was a late replacement.

    'And sadly, HW boxing has NOT been in a trend for fights to not be on PPV in the US, it's the other way around and that's been part of the whole problem. Too many boxing cards, often really poor boxing cards, that you'd have to pay to watch rather than it being on basic cable. Unless someone wants to really talk up, say, the Holyfield-Botha PPV from last year as being worth the cash, for instance?'

    I understand your argument but the PPV's you allude to are independently produced. They do not have the financial backing from the subscription channels such as Showtime and HBO - Klitshcko fights included. The reason it has been forced to the fringes is that the boxing carrying channels that hold sway in the US do not feel it prudent, or efficient use of resources to carry HW fights - considering the dire state of the division since Lewis' retirement.

  • Comment number 42.

    How can you say the bbc cannot afford to put boxing on tv....??

    The fact is they did wrong by the viewers by spending all of their money on Formula 1 when it was already on terrestrial TV.

  • Comment number 43.

    jerd16 - You seem to have a very narrow idea of what 'significant' means, namely that it is the top two fighters in a division fighting each other. How you, or any other boxing commentators, can call Lewis-Tyson 'historically irrelevant' is beyond me.

    I think the fact Ali-Liston II took place in Maine had more to do with the fact a lot of people hated Ali, his religion and his stance on Vietnam, and also disliked Liston because of his criminal past. The fight was postponed for six months, enough time for much bigger arenas to step in if they had wanted to. Very few people thought Cassius Clay was one of the two best heavyweights in the world before their first fight - just about everyone thought Clay was an eejit who was gonna get battered - but that fight looks pretty significant in hindsight.

  • Comment number 44.

    The reason HW boxing is not a big deal in the U.S is because there is no domestic based talent capable of challenging.

    The division is and has for the last 5/6 years been dominated by ex Soviet countries which the Americans arent interested in.

    Their own challengers like Chambers, Arreola, Johnson have been hammered and without a fighter that the U.S can get behind the networks simply wont cater for it based on levels of interest.

    The U.S have never really embraced on non U.S heavyweight champ and having the division dominated by two Ukrainians for the best part of a decade has seen the interest levels drop off in the States or else switch to divisions where they have more of an interest. This is merely reflected with the big networks.

    Klitschko v Haye can sell out 60k venues in Europe where interest is huge. No point pandering it to a largely indifferent crowd in the U.S in a much smaller venue.

  • Comment number 45.

    People saying boxing should be on the BBC need a reality check. At the moment boxing is not, if we're all honest with ourselves, a major sport and only puts on one or two significant (to the wider public) events a year.

    The Daily Mail would go mental with the money spent on big fights just so a couple of million people could enjoy boxing for free for one night.

  • Comment number 46.

    I should point out, with this being the BBC, that other daily news publications are availble.

  • Comment number 47.

    I've had plenty to day about the self-proclaimed "saviour of heavyweight boxing's" apparent inability to get into the ring with one of the Klitschkos, so the fact that the fight with Wladimir finally looks like a fait accompli is reason enough for a resounding three cheers. A churlish voice at the back of my mind is still muttering about slips 'twixt cup and lip and there being some distance between now and late June or early July, but no doubt I'm incurably uncharitable.

    To contemplate the fight itself is a pleasure, not least because Klitschko junior is a vastly improved performer since the uncertain days when he was poor enough to get stopped by comparative no-marks like Ross Puritty. Wlad's undeniably better boxing technique, however, has come at the expense of any real attacking intent. Jab, cross, repeat ad infinitum has been the dull but effective recipe in all his recent fights. Caution has been the order of the day and if an opponent looks the slightest bit dangerous than he is immediately sucked into the octopus-like embrace of those long arms. On the basis that one should do precisely what the opponent likes least, I'm fairly certain that Haye must attack to win this one. Like Valuev, Klitschko has all the physical advantages; unlike the seven-foot giant, he knows how to box a bit. Playing the annoying mosquito card is unlikely to do the trick for Haye this time - he needs to take the initiative and exploit the fact that I'm not totally sure that Wlad really enjoys a proper tear-up. Yes, Haye is also vulnerable about the whiskers, but in this case, advancing into the mouth of the cannon might well be the best way of keeping his own chin intact.

    Klitschko must be favourite here, but Haye has a definite chance of upsetting the odds, providing that he does so early. The longer the fight goes, the harder his life will be against a man who has had a recent habit of overpowering his opposition through their tiredness as much as the cumulative effect of his blows. Perhaps, a patriotic bet on the same result as the Harrison fight might be in order; we may reasonably expect a little more action on the way as well.

  • Comment number 48.

    #45 I do actually agree but it is abit of a catch-22 situation, as for boxing to have regular events that interest the general public at large, it needs mainstream coverage on terrestrial TV first.
    But personally I don’t mind paying for fights on sky, just so long as I can see them, unlike Frochs recent bouts and Matthew Hatton this weekend.

  • Comment number 49.

    Agree that more exposure will help, but also to interest the public it needs exciting fights, and the best to fight the best, which isn't happening on a regular basis at the moment.

    Also don't mind forking out for fights on Sky, am a total sucker.

  • Comment number 50.

    Forget that.
    Lights Leary vs Death Row Reynolds is just around the corner.

  • Comment number 51.

    On the televising thing.

    Surely whilst the politics of Pro Boxing mean that there is always going to be some difficulty in finding regular TV slots. Surely there is a massive argument for televising some of the best of the international juniors and amatuer boxing. Especially with the UK hosting the olympics in 2012.

    This would both be relatively cheap, whilst at the same time providing much needed funding to grass roots boxing. And further there can be a clear logic for a public service broadcaster to show internationals and championship events.

    Moving on from this it would create some name recognition for our up and coming stars before they signed pro forms interested boxing types and kids would see the up and comers form emotional attachments and be given a reason to take an interest in their pro careers. For me everybody wins, including the pay tv and subscription sports channels as it owuld increase interest in the sport.

    The way in which Khan or even Fraudley are able to capture the interest and imagination of the public shows that there must be some market for showing top draw british amatuers in meaningful contests.

    Just my 2cents.

  • Comment number 52.

    Wow what a surprise the biggest fight outside of Mayweather vs Pacman is made and you still get Ben Dirs complaining about Boxing and the ever classy UFC fans yelling at their older, stronger brother.

    Here are a few things to consider;

    If Boxing is in trouble then how on earth has Haye just made 5 million quid for fighting a D+ fighter in Harrison. Furthermore how did Mayweather make 40 Million dollars on a 1m PPV event against Marquez?

    UFC is non existent outside of North America, your average guy on the street in the UK thinks MMA is a hospital virus.

    The 'UFC has better fights' argument is a superb fallacy. It is one company, therefore in house fights are easier to make, just like Cotto vs Pacman and not like Mayweather vs Pacman or Lesnar vs Fedor (which, at Fedor's peak was impossible because UFC do not make cross-promotional events) Talk about ego's!

    Boxing's viewing figures on Terrestrial are generally very good, although I do understand why the BBC cannot afford live Prem football or the very biggest Boxing events without advertising to offset the cost as someone said earlier.

    If Mayweather vs Pacquaio was made tomorrow, Ben Dirs would still complain and Boxing would still be dead according to UFC fans. It's perception and reality.

  • Comment number 53.

    #51 the BBC did actually show the ABA finals last year and I believe will be doing so again in May, while it was thoroughly entertaining for me (follower of amateur boxing) it was perplexing and rather dull to my friends who are more casual boxing fans.

    As for the international amateur bouts, I haven’t seen any footage on terrestrial TV for years.

  • Comment number 54.

    Not all that comfy with the 'either or' contract.

    Worst case scenario would seem to be that things go along fine until about a week or two away, Wlad suddenly says the injury is still not healed and then Vitali steps in.

    They may be twins but they're two different guys to fight, Vitali is a lot more durable and busy with his punches while being less mobile and flexible.

    Could really put Haye in a bad spot if that happens. Just looking at the worst case scenario here, mind!

  • Comment number 55.

    Haye is gonna get thumped, unless he can box clever and wait for his opportunity. Wladmir does not come out of the box straight away ... Haye will want to strike him early.

  • Comment number 56.

    Dunc that sort of makes my point. If the Beeb, or ITV *regularly* showed the Amatuer championships and internationals causual fight fans would come to understand it a bit better and get interested in who was doing it.

    This would help amatuer boxing and also help pro boxing in the long run. And would probably not break the bank of the BBC sport budget.

    Bring it on I say!

  • Comment number 57.

    Tofu - Whoopdydoo, boxing manages to get two of the best heavyweights to fight each other, after more than two years of negotiating. That's no real reason for celebration to be honest, it's something that should have happened as a matter of course. Yes, I'm glad it's on, but the whole thing has been incredibly tedious and, as Steward says himself, it's killing boxing. In short, a lot of people are fed up with it.

    Anyone who thinks boxing doesn't have serious problems has their head in the sand, however much cash the biggest fights can generate. It's a fringe interest in the States now and, while bigger in the UK, very few people outside of committed fans could name you more than two or three British fighters currently operating. Yes, if Mayweather vs Pacquaio was made tomorrow I would complain, because it should have happened a year ago. And you know the scary part? If that fight ever does happen, it could be the last fight that truly transcends the sport. And I mean ever.

  • Comment number 58.

    "that fight ever does happen, it could be the last fight that truly transcends the sport. And I mean ever."

    I think that is a real worry. What effect do you think an electrifying US heavyweight who captured the imagination in the ring and out would have on this?

    And what are the prospects of something being done about it. I remember back along reading that a merger of the WBC and the WBA had been mooted, whilst not a panacea but if there were less "respected" sanctioning bodies that should surely help.

  • Comment number 59.

    Ben

    re: Manny V Floyd - surely better late than never?

    I, for one, wouldn't be complaining if this fight goes ahead!

    Which admittedly doesn't look likely...

    You seem a bit down on the sport, maybe this Jerd16 should cover boxing for the BBC - he knows his onions and isn't relentlessly negative when discussing it.

    Oh, and he has an expansive vocabulary to boot!!

  • Comment number 60.

    Ferrettbadger - I think a standout American heavyweight would have a big effect. Someone like Tyson, knocking out everything in his path. But all the noises coming out of the States are that there's not much coming through. The amateur system seems to have collapsed over there, which isn't great for the development of high-class heavies.

    In terms of boxing as a whole, everyone knows what needs to be done, but no-one has the power to do anything - one champion in each weight division, a governing body with the integrity to put together honest rankings and to insist the best fight the best. Do that, and boxing would be back. But don't hold your breath...

  • Comment number 61.

    Wow, just read through all of this and my head hurts. There's no question that the will they/won't they saga of both the Mayweather v Pacquiao, and Haye v a Klitschko has brought the issue into sharp focus; namely it seems more problematic than ever for the top fights to be made at a time when boxing is in particular need of them happening.

    While not being an expert on the history it appears that for a long time boxing has survived (prospered would be too strong a word in light or recent history) in spite of, not because of, the 'set up' where world governing bodies are concerned. In years gone by at least there were just the 3 main bodies (Wbc, Ibf and Wba) and their world champions; now with the addition of the Wbo there are 4 and a raft of seemingly meaningless titles such as 'silver' champ, 'interim' champ etc leaving even hardened boxing fans baffled. What chance the casual observer? Plus you have the boxing politics of getting the different 'world champions' in the ring which is an increasingly protracted process. And of course the timing is particularly bad considering boxing is at a low ebb where mainstream recognition is concerned.

    And then you have boxing in the UK. As a fan it pains me to see it marginalised to a point where if I talk to friends about the story that is Carl Froch and his last 5 fights, and how they simply must see this guy live before he hangs up the gloves, they look at me with a glazed expression which says 'what's this guy on?'. How did a guy who is so good end up with such a low profile? You could argue the ins and outs for ages but fundamentally terrestial TV in this country has turned its back on boxing. Putting aside the commercial arguments on the cost of live fights (although promoters need to get together and think outside the box a bit to make those attractive occasionally to mainstream Tv, to build the profile of fighters), that doesn't explain what is stopping the BBC from showing highlights of boxing from time to time? The almost complete blackout of boxing (aside from amateur boxing which happens to be part of the Olympic coverage BBC will be fully part of) demands further exploration in my opinion.

  • Comment number 62.

    the-bowlers-holding - Well, if you want someone who thinks everything is perfectly OK with boxing covering it, then maybe this Jerd16 should be covering it for the BBC. Luckily, my bosses prefer a bit of perspective. I love the sport, but like most things I love, whether it be people or abstract things, I can see the good and the bad in it. And there is a lot of bad in boxing at the moment, as well as a lot of good things as well.

  • Comment number 63.

    Ben

    Yes, I agree perspective is important - I don't want to read someone who glosses over the negatives simply because they 'cover boxing' and thus feel they need to big it up at every turn, regardless of quality. I share some of your frustrations with the sport too. The days of being genuinely excited about upcoming bouts seems a long distant memory...

    Please elucidate on these 'good things'; do you mean up and comers that could re-ignite the public's (dwindling) interest in the noble art?

    P.S. I'm not sure Jerd16 thinks everything is alright with boxing - he seemed more to be picking you up on a couple of points with regard to 'facts' - then again, I don't know the guy so who knows.

  • Comment number 64.

    the-bowlers-holding - Haha. Well, not really 'facts' as such, I think it was more a difference of opinion, or maybe a case of semantics - he has his reasons for thinking Lewis-Klitschko, and indeed Lewis-Tyson, weren't significant fights, a lot of people would disagree.

    Well, there are lots of good things about boxing - the fact it provides great discipline and opportunities for young kids from poor backgrounds; the fact it is a sport involving great skill and bravery; the fact it can provide incredible drama. As I say, lots of things, it's mainly the organisation, the structure, that's the problem. Lack of clarity is a massive turn-off for the public - too many belts, too many weight divisions, some very dubious governing bodies with very dubious ranking systems. I could go on, but I don't want to be accused of negativity again!

  • Comment number 65.

    Hey Ben, can you throw any light on Beeb not showing highlights of professional boxing even if showing fights live is outside of the budget?

  • Comment number 66.

    Lewis v Klitschcko did indeed only become somewhat significant retrospectively.

    At the time it was no big deal. Lewis was seen as close to retirement, Klitschko was seen (wrongly) as a guy with no heart there to fill in.

    Even in retrospect I think its only significance is to mark the shifting of heavyweight boxing from West to East.

    Its not really applicable to the Haye v Klitschko scenario in the sense that this is actually fight that has been in demand. If Klitschko wins, the status quo wont change. Haye will be labelled as an other hype job that the Klitschkos dismissed.

    If Haye wins, well, the status quo probably wont change as he will be retired in less than a year leaving the Klitschkos to reclaim their titles should they want to. A blip on the radar perhaps, but not the shining saviour.

    Hayes image and interest levels are alot to do with self publication and what he "might" do. If he doesnt deliver, then he wont be seen as anything special. Just another guy the Klitschkos beat. However, unlike most of the Klitschkos opponents, hes managined to convince alot of people that he at least has a good shot at winning. But again its on this principle that the levels of interest in the fight are based. The perception that Haye has something all the other challengers didnt. If this goes up in smoke then reality will set in again.

  • Comment number 67.

    "Yes, if Mayweather vs Pacquaio was made tomorrow I would complain, because it should have happened a year ago. And you know the scary part? If that fight ever does happen, it could be the last fight that truly transcends the sport. And I mean ever."

    So Ben, not only are you never wrong (I've seen you argue some hopeless points in your blog comments before and already noted that conceding a point to defeat is not an option for you, even in the face of common sense) not only that but you can see into the future too!

    Thats quite scarey, you're always right and you can see into the future. Are you God by any chance?

    You cant possibly know if Pac vs Mayweather could be the last fight to transcend the sport. Ever. How do you know what boxing will be like in 10,20,30 years? I've seen you admonish other peoples logic on here, but quite simply your logic seems arrogant.

  • Comment number 68.

    A decent realistic blog Ben that encapuslates boxing today.

    You said this is arguably the biggest fight since Klitschko Lewis, I disagree strongly.

    This is easily the biggest fight since klitschko lewis, nothing to argue about at all.

    To all the people who insult the Klitschkos, the fact is they have been the dominant heavyweight force of the noughties, just like Larry Holmes was in the early/mid 80's. and history will remember them as such.


    They took over Lewis's mantlepiece. This is Haye's chance to put himself in boxing heavyweight history. If he destroys both Klitschkos, especially Vitali, who has never been knocked out, he would put himself in arguably the Top 20 greatest ever Heavies, and easily cement himself as this countries greatest ever heavy.

    Without K Bros and Haye, this division would be truly dead, and possibly buried. We should be grateful these fighters exist, and aside from Pacquiao Mayweather, this fight is easily the 2nd most aniticipated fight that the world wants to see, as Ben pointed out.

    We should be proud of the fact that the only human being on the planet, capable of dethroning Kbros's domination over the last decade, comes from the UK.

    Now the fight has been signed, I think the whole country should get behind Haye, just like with Hatton (despite Haye's annoying arrogance).

  • Comment number 69.

    Does anyone really care?

    Once boxing priced itself away from what were then terrestrial channels and took Sky's millions, it has been all downhill. Coupled with the ludicrous PPV prices Sky charges on top of the hefty sports' subscription, boxing has priced itself out of its previous popularity.

    How much did it cost to watch 8 minutes or so of Haye against Harrison? Boxing has to learn that it cannot keep ripping fans off with high prices for ridiculous mismatches and expect to keep their allegiance.

    I've never coughed up for PPV and I won't be coughing up to watch this one either, that's for sure.

  • Comment number 70.

    First of all it’s good to see this level of activity on a boxing blog.

    It’s true boxing does need this fight, but it does seem to be dying a slow death as a big box office sport anyway. Boxing will of course always be here and attract the hardcore fans but its place as one of the premier sports and the place of the heavy weight champ as a world celebrity is already gone. There’s no way Haye or Kitschko are going to be held in the public conscious like any boxer from the past 40 years, although Haye is giving it his best shot.

    I think UFC is a real problem for boxing and whilst I acknowledge Ben doesn’t want that debate here it is something that saddens and frustrates me greatly (there is sport and then there is just fighting…).

    I don’t see any real solution to boxing’s problems. Perhaps it requires one individual/entity gaining a monopoly on the business a la Bernie Ecclestone or Barry Hearn (snooker)?

    Anyway I’m not sure Haye can pull this off, he gets caught too much and Klitschko will have the power to stop him, love to see Haye do it though.

  • Comment number 71.

    #69 yes people do care, otherwise no-one would have written anything in response to Ben's blog. The problem is boxing is losing its fanbase, not building it, as a result of the current set up, when a change of strategy could see that reversed.

    The difficulty is working out what that strategy is and getting the various movers and shakers in boxing to sign onto it and move forward with a shared purpose; the latter definitely harder than the former.

    #70 if a monopoly is what it takes to turn the boxing ship around then i'm all for it, pretty much anything would be better than current state of affairs.
    As for UFC i think that can be an example for boxing not a threat, where getting the top fighters against each other is concerned, and the benefits of that. In the long run I think boxing will always have an potential audience provided it gets its act together, all that grappling around on the floor in various technical holds makes UFC pretty dull in my book.

  • Comment number 72.

    Boxing is still a massive sport that does capture the imagination. Haye vs Fraudley did amazing business in PPV and people were talking about it in work and it generated a whole lot of column inches.

    Ricky Hatton is one of the most well known and popular sportspeople in Britain, and Joe Calzaghe recently even won the Sports Personality of the year by public vote.

    There are endemic problems in the sport that have certainly tarnished the lustre of the fight game and I worry like Ben they might be endemic. Given the state of the game it really is hard to imagine where the next Pacquiao or Dela Hoya with genuine cross over appeal is going to come from.

    For me though I am ever the optimist. Should this fight happen, and should Haye win setting up a fight with Vitali for the undisputed Heavyweight crown I reckon that would capture the worlds (and crucially Americas) attention.

  • Comment number 73.

    Riggadon - First, you seem to have conveniently ignored the fact I said "could" be the last fight that transcends the sport, which is odd, as you wrote the whole sentence out again. Second, you don't seem to have a grasp on what blogs are about. They are designed to trigger debate and argument, and defending one's position is an integral part of that. Yes, myself and Jerd16 have disagreed on a couple of points, but I'm sure he's big enough to realise people can have differences of opinion without falling out over it.

  • Comment number 74.

    Struggling to see why ben seems to be getting so much flack for being quite negative on the current state of boxing, i should think anybody who appreciates the sport and has any knowledge of its history would know exactly what mess it is in currently.

    Multiple belts over many weights have cheapened the titles to such an extent that many fans view some champs as only 'paper' champs and the multiple organisations mean that less deserving champs can keeps titles by fighting often poor opposition if they are in the right organisation.

  • Comment number 75.

    I think the reason Ben Dirs gets abuse is for a couple of reasons:

    1. Seen as not a full time boxing correspondant and therefore not qualified enough.

    2. Leading on from 1, some people want more expert and extensive coverage.

    3. Hes seen as representing the BBC who have all but given up on boxing except in the most limited sense. Therefore he cops flak from people frustrated with the BBCs lack of coverage.

    4. It grates some people that Ben Dirs criticises the state of the sport when hes seen as representative of an organisation that are partly to blame in Britain for turning their back on the sport.

    5. Some people just like to criticise.

    I, personally, find the blogs to be fine and written from a fans point of view designed to encourage opinions. However some people dont see it like this and expect more (see above). I think if you take the blog for what it is - a general outlook and attempt to encourage debate it works well. Its not designed to be a test of Ben Dirs historical boxing knowledge. Obviously I would like a bit more resources put into boxing from the BBC but again, I doubt Ben has much say in the matter. I daresay as long as the BBC continue to keep boxing in the backseat though, Ben Dirs will continue to bear the brunt of boxing fans disatisfaction on the BBC.

  • Comment number 76.

    On the BBC though we do get the excellent Steve Bunce Boxing hour podcast.

    Might not be TV, or even national radio but my favourite boxing podcast for sure!

  • Comment number 77.

    They took over Lewis's mantlepiece. This is Haye's chance to put himself in boxing heavyweight history. If he destroys both Klitschkos, especially Vitali, who has never been knocked out, he would put himself in arguably the Top 20 greatest ever Heavies, and easily cement himself as this countries greatest ever heavy.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Haye could knock out both Klitschkos in the same night and he would still be well below Lennox Lewis.

  • Comment number 78.

    The problem with your 'Mayweather vs Pacquaio could be the end nonsense is that it ignores Boxing cycles and history entirely. This is why people don't like your blogs Ben, just flawed argument after flawed argument. Let me tell you why the aforementioned statement is rubbish.

    The thing about potential is that people don't realise it until it's fufilled, I'm sure when Ali, Foreman and Fraizer left the sport there where people saying 'Where's the next great star coming from'? And guess what around the corner you had Hagler, Hearns, Duran and Leonard era.

    Even with the example you used of Lewis vs V.Klitschko guess who was fighting on the undercard that night? Manny Pacquaio, and who predicted his incredible popularity? Nobody at all.

    Your not a bad journalist Ben, just a boring and repetitive one.

  • Comment number 79.

    'You seem to have a very narrow idea of what 'significant' means, namely that it is the top two fighters in a division fighting each other. How you, or any other boxing commentators, can call Lewis-Tyson 'historically irrelevant' is beyond me.'

    Well I guess that makes both I and Kevin Mitchell (full-time boxing commentators) very narrow-minded Ben. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2011/mar/07/haye-wladimir-klitschko-world-heavyweight

    '(Haye and Klitshcko)The biggest Heavyweight fight in over a decade.'

    I'm sorry Ben but you really should defer to the seniority of myself and Kevin on this one. Remember I stated that this fight was the most 'significant' since Holyfield/Lewis. That happened in 1999.

    As for your manipulation of my words regarding the relevance of Lewis/Tyson I find that slightly unbecoming of a professional blogger. As I said previously, there is no doubting its relevance in terms of money generated but it is naive to think that it contributes to the legacy of either fighter. It is only a footnote in HW history. In fact if you watch 'ESPN's ten greatest Heavyweights' Bert Sugar refused to even include that fight when assessing both fighters legacies.

    'then maybe this Jerd16 should be covering it for the BBC. Luckily, my bosses prefer a bit of perspective.'

    I feel honored that you would consider me eligible for the post. Unfortunately I find the responsibility and constant rightful scrutiny dealt by your patrons - the British taxpayers - to be to overwhelming a burden.

    As for 'perspective' shown by your bosses, I witness the afore-mentioned perspective on every news bulletin when your bosses endorse the seeking out of individuals and invite them to say how damaging a cut will be, without ever querying 'would you prefer we had tax rises?' A perspective but slightly skewed, don't you think?

    Anyway, I appreciate you are just towing the company line.

    'Yes, myself and Jerd16 have disagreed on a couple of points, but I'm sure he's big enough to realise people can have differences of opinion without falling out over it.'

    I wish this was representative of your true stance, but unfortunately you showed this to be little more than grandstanding when you insulted me by suggesting that your employers would have more perspective than to employ me.

  • Comment number 80.

    Let me clarify the words that Ben put into my mouth aswell. I have never stated that all is hunky-dory in boxing neither did I criticise Ben for saying such.

    In fact, implicity I stated the contrary. By suggesting that the last significant fight was Holyfield/Lewis - eleven years ago not as Ben suggested Klitshcko/Lewis, eight years ago.

    I accept your apology Ben.

  • Comment number 81.

    Tofu - Haha, that made me chuckle. However, my argument doesn't totally ignore the history of boxing cycles. When Ali finally hung up his gloves, Duran, Leonard and Hagler weren't 'round the corner' - Duran was already a legend of the sport; Hagler was already middleweight world champion; Leonard had been a world champion for two years. But where are the big American stars now? Where are the stars that transcend the sport? There hasn't been a great American heavyweight for years - the cycle has stopped, the well has run dry, and that never happened before, stretching from Holyfield all the way back to John L Sullivan.

    jerd16 - Are you alright mate? It's just that you seem to be getting very heated about things I didn't even say in the first place. My quote was: "... arguably the first heavyweight world title fight of any real significance since Haye's fellow Brit Lennox Lewis defeated Wladimir's older brother Vitali in 2003." Kevin Mitchell's quote was actually: "... the biggest heavyweight title fight for at least a decade." These two statements don't actually contradict each other and aren't mutually exclusive.

    And I quote you on Lewis-Tyson: "Hence why I and many boxing commentators are reluctant to categorise it as historically relevant." If you don't think it was historically relevant, then presumably you think it was historically irrelevant. How is that a manipulation of your words?

    Of course, I would defer to your seniority, but seeing as you choose to contribute anonymously, I have no idea who you are.

  • Comment number 82.

    'Are you alright mate? It's just that you seem to be getting very heated about things I didn't even say in the first place?'

    I feel the same regarding your interpretation of my assessing of the relevance of Tyson/Lewis. I said in regards to assessing it on purely a superficial monetary sense - 'I guess you could make that argument, purely on the superficial basis of money-generated/viewing figures.'

    I stand by that assertion, if you use money-generated as a barometer. If you use any other barometer independently or additionally it was irrelevant.

    And also, you put words into my mouth by suggesting that I thought all was hunky-dory with boxing when I made no such assertion. That's a poor show, for a professional writer.

    'Kevin Mitchell's quote was actually: "... the biggest heavyweight title fight for at least a decade." These two statements don't actually contradict each other and aren't mutually exclusive.'

    Now that really is semantics, Ben. The fact that Mitchell chose to completely ignore that fight implies its insignificance. Ask him or Bert Sugar, two eminent writers in the field of boxing how significant Klitshcko/Lewis and Tyson/Lewis was, I know from previous remarks that both would be inclined to agree with me.

  • Comment number 83.

    I really think the "transcend the sport" thing is important. Insofar as casual people can still get excited about a name from time to time boxing whilst not in "rude" health will have potential.

    The thing about your Pacquiaos, De La Hoyas, Tysons, Alis etc is everyone knows them. They sell tickets, put bums on seats and get ordinary non fight people talking about the sport in Watercooler moments.

    I remember when Tyson fought Lewis it was literally the talk of my office people who never watched boxing were hugely excited about it (In fact I cleaned up! Knowing the boxer Tyson was then as opposed to the memory ordinary punters had I was happy to bet big on Lewis). Loads of people watched it.

    I struggle to see where that fight comes from next and in that I think Ben is sport on. Doesn't mean it *will* be the last crossover fight but boxing is silly if it does not recognise the possibility.

  • Comment number 84.

    I agree with you in some respect but note that Ben considered Klitshcko/Lewis to be significant.

    So if you equate significance with the ability to transcend then that would imply that Klitscko/Lewis transcended the sport. I would beg to differ vehemently with that stance.

  • Comment number 85.

    "As I said previously, there is no doubting its relevance in terms of money generated but it is naive to think that it contributes to the legacy of either fighter."

    jerd16> On this really? you actually think this and you are a professional boxing commentator?

    I have heard so many references to the fright that Vitali gave Lewis. The fact that it was a genuine contest and that Vitali was ahead on all three cards at the time it was stopped (in most unexpected fashion). This had a huge impact on how Vitali came to be viewed as a fighter thereafter. I think it is ludicrous to pretend that this fight didn't shape a lot of the post Lewis narrative

  • Comment number 86.

    Ok, let me clarify I am not a professional boxing commentator. It should have been 'boxing commentator' - that was because I was going to quote both Kevin Mitchell and Bert Sugar and give credence to their opinions byy referencing that both are FT boxing commentators. But I couldn't find Sugar's quote in print, only on TV.

    I write about boxing but only as a non-paid part time gig at the moment.

    "As I said previously, there is no doubting its relevance in terms of money generated but it is naive to think that it contributes to the legacy of either fighter."

    Firstly that quote was used in the context of Tyson/Lewis. Secondly, it was Ben that made the argument that fights are made relevant with hindsight.

    To which I responded 'When Lewis and Klitshko fought, VK was a late replacement for Kirk Johnson, at the time of the fight it was merely a slot filler. Nobody outside of Eastern Europe knew who Klitschko was!
    The only reason it is given retrospective relevance is because of how Klitschko performed and what he has done since.'

  • Comment number 87.

    I think its a bit rash to suggest Pacquaio v Mayweather is the last great fight in boxing potentially ever.

    Part of the problem is that there has been a tendancy to ignore the lower weights where there is genuine quality and all the talk is about a thin heavyweight division and a semi retired Mayweather. For a good 2 years now boxing and its coverage has been obsessed with the soap opera's of Haye/Klitscho and Mayweather/Pacquiao when infact it could be and could have been looking and creating a future generation of stars. Fighters like Nonito Donaire, Pongsalek Wongjankum, Yuriorkos Gamboa, Juanma Lopez and so forth have been in some great clashes and are genuine top ten material. Had boxing coverage embraced these guys and given fights like Donaire v Darchinyan/Montiel the coverage they so richly deserved then people may well be talking about them as future stars instead of musing over the will they/wont they and whos to blame articles. The same could even be said of someone like Sergio Martinez who wont be the future as hes too old but could certainly have been bigger.

    So far in 2011 we have had:

    Donaire v Montiel - genuine unification and pound for pound clash
    Bradley v Alexander - genuine Lightwelter unification fight

    We can also look forward to:

    Haye v Klitschko
    Klitschko v Solis
    Klitschko v Adamek
    Froch v Johnson and Ward to crown the Super 6 winner
    Pascal v Hopkins II
    Martinez v Dzinzurik
    Donaire v Moreno

    As well as hopefully some good domestic clashes and some other big fights in the latter end of the year. Its not a death knell because Pacquiao v Mayweather cant/wont fight.

    There is also a wealth of good fighters in the lower weights with the potential for some great match ups. You dont have to look too far to see future stars but you do need to give them some oxygen and platform if you want them to get recognition instead of worrying about what Mayweather said about Pacquiao and vice versa.

  • Comment number 88.

    Tofu - you insult Ben about his boxing knowledge and then make up that Manny Pacquiao fought on the Lewis Klitschko undercard to prove your point?? Pac wasn't there that night and didnt fight, I have no idea where you get your info from.

    Pac fought on the Lewis Tyson undercard. Suppose it's easy to confuse Vitali Klitschko and Mike Tyson though.

  • Comment number 89.

    although i agree the noble art has fallen on hard times of late i must take issue with your complete lack of boxing knowhow,first the haye/valuev fight may not have been one of the sports greatest bouts but as you mention haye's impressive speed not too mention his concentration and sheer guts made it a memorable fight.and secondly david haye with his trash talk and determination to fight the fight of the century proves boxing is back on the bounce.thirdly i suggest you source your info from places other than wikipedia and second hand boxing reports.

  • Comment number 90.

    Haye v Valuev was second rate. Valuev didnt even deserve to be champion given he was beaten by Chagaev for his title.

  • Comment number 91.

    “ 'When Lewis and Klitshko fought, VK was a late replacement for Kirk Johnson, at the time of the fight it was merely a slot filler. Nobody outside of Eastern Europe knew who Klitschko was!
    The only reason it is given retrospective relevance is because of how Klitschko performed and what he has done since.' ”

    Ok lets look at that then. Firstly Klitschko was both the number 1 Challenger under the WBC ratings at the time of the fight and almost certianly should have had the shot ahead of Johnson anyhow. Secondly Klitschko was a former WBO World champ. So not some hopeless obscure no hoper given a shot against all logic. I'd go as far as to say at the time he was probably the biggest legitimate contender to the belt.

    Even if that wasn't true Ben's point about how things that happen subsequent to a fight can effect how that fight is viewed is surely beyond contention and Ben's point about Liston vs Ali is well made. Sometimes hindsight makes the significance clear. Vitali has been consistently the best heavwqeight ever since then and thus the fight does have a greater significance. Is it as big as Lewis vs Holyfield or Holyfied vs Tyson? Obviously not but still a big fight.

    Manos_De_Piedra>

    The question is not whether or not there will be good fights but whether or not they will capture the imagination of a wider audience. It is the “cross over appeal” that is being tlaked about here and unfortunately for me very few of those fights have that x-factor.

    My “rule of thumb” test is if any of those fights were on PPV and I was getting it in would any of my mates want to come around and watch it. With fights like Haye vs Klit, Hatton vs Mayweather, Lewis vs Tyson etc the answer is yes. For most of the fights oyu alluded to the answer is sadly know.

    Worse, in most cases people would not have heard of those fighters. And from what I understand this isn't just in the sleepy westcountry of England but the world over.

  • Comment number 92.

    jerd16- I just don't understand why you've got so excited/offended by your debate with ben dirs!? Compared to about 99% of forum debates it is mild and inoffensive stuff!

    I really don't see how you can take his words to be misqouting you. He's quoted you a few times and said why he disagrees with it and you've done the same to him. I think your points were all well written and considered, although i don't agree with them.

    you had a go at him for semantics but everyone will read into stuff to their perspective. And when you started using sentences like; "So if you equate significance with the ability to transcend then that would imply that Klitscko/Lewis transcended the sport." And; "I feel the same regarding your interpretation of my assessing of the relevance of Tyson/Lewis. I said in regards to assessing it on purely a superficial monetary sense,"........it started getting a bit silly.

  • Comment number 93.

    The point is the general public dont know about these fighters because they are given no coverage.

    Hatton, Haye and Lewis were British so theres no real point using them as examples.

    The media are concerned about creating a fuss over fighters that arent even fighting each other than actually committing to cover the good fights that are happening.

    If the media spent half as much time covering someone like Donaire as they do on rubbish like Haye v Audley then people would know about them.

    If the media dont give the quality fighters the coverage then they cant complain that there are no supertars. My point is that there are superstars if the media gave them the platform.

    The wider public will never know about these guys while they are buried as a footnote under "Haye calls Klitschko X,Y,Z".

    This is not just a new phenomenon, its happened to many fighters in history such as the likes of McCallum who was buried in the Shadow of Hearns, Hagler and Leonard.

    It will take Pacquiao and Mayweather retiring or actually fighting before the media will look elsewhere to unearth the future stars. Right now Mayweather and Pacquiao are top of the tree so they will continue to dominate the headlines. It doesnt mean there isnt future stars just round the corner. There are. The media and armchair fans just havent been bothered with them yet.

  • Comment number 94.

    'Those expecting fireworks on fight night could be disappointed. Haye, who will be giving up four inches in height and in the region of 30lb in weight to Klitschko, has little to gain from standing and trading. Therefore, it could be a repeat of the Briton's clash with Nikolay Valuev. Haye won that fight on points, moving quickly in and out of the the giant Russian's reach and banking on his superior speed of both hands and feet.'

    Listen Ben Dirs man, do you know anything? WK is 6'6" and Haye 6'3", it will be a good fight, cos 6'6" is not FREAKISHly tall, there is a lot f difference between being over 7' and 6'6"! Audley was 6'5", and we all knew what happened, just saying that Haye wouldnt actually have to 'chop him down' as in anyone who would attempt to KO Valuev would have to.

    Im right, youre wrong. PS RIP BILLY WEBSTER, King Pads man!

  • Comment number 95.

    Tyson vs Lewis wasn't a particularly historically significant fight, because Tyson was washed up by them. Unfortunately, they primarily competed in different eras. I don't really watch the old man fights, I'd rather see re-runs of Lewis against Ruddock or McCall. I agree that Vitali vs Lewis wasn't a particularly important fight at the time, more on paper another Galota rolled up for Lewis.

    Reckon, that Ali vs Liston 1 & 2 were major events at the time. Only one world champ in those days, in the marquee division. Ali was hotly tipped, olympic champ and no stranger to a bit of self promotion. That was boxing in them days.

    Great to see the fight may actually happen, taken longer than it should. Don't know if the TV deals have been worked out yet, be watching it on SKY, who do show the boxing.

  • Comment number 96.

    'Ok lets look at that then. Firstly Klitschko was both the number 1 Challenger under the WBC ratings at the time of the fight and almost certianly should have had the shot ahead of Johnson anyhow.'

    Julio Cesar Chavez Jr has been the number 1 contender on the WBC middleweight rankings for over a year. He has never fought anyone of relevance and is not ranked in the top ten by any magazine or online publication. Kelly Pavlik is ranked number 1 by the WBC despite having never fought at 168lbs. Ray Austin was ranked No.1 by the WBC in the HW rankings for almost a year until Odlanier Solis beat him in December.
    So I think that counters your point of sanctioning body rankings justifying a fighters relevance.

    'I'd go as far as to say at the time he was probably the biggest legitimate contender to the belt.'

    In your opinion maybe. He was ranked No.8 in both the Ring Magazine Ratings and boxrec.com and No.7 by Fightnews.

    'Ben's point about Liston vs Ali is well made. Sometimes hindsight makes the significance clear. '

    Ben presented a set of events which I corrected him on.

    'With fights like Haye vs Klit, Hatton vs Mayweather, Lewis vs Tyson etc the answer is yes. For most of the fights oyu alluded to the answer is sadly know.'

    Add Pacquiao/Cotto, Pacquiao/Margarito, Mayweather/De la Hoya, Mosley/Mayweather, Trinidad/De la Hoya, Hopkins/De la Hoya, Pacquiao/de La Hoya all to that list as well.

    As for the fights I alluded to the only one you did not mention was Lewis/Klitshcko and I quite agree it did not have cross-over appeal because nobody outside of hardcore boxing fans knew who Klitschko was.

  • Comment number 97.

    'I really don't see how you can take his words to be misqouting you. He's quoted you a few times and said why he disagrees with it and you've done the same to him. I think your points were all well written and considered, although i don't agree with them.

    you had a go at him for semantics but everyone will read into stuff to their perspective. And when you started using sentences like; "So if you equate significance with the ability to transcend then that would imply that Klitscko/Lewis transcended the sport." And; "I feel the same regarding your interpretation of my assessing of the relevance of Tyson/Lewis. I said in regards to assessing it on purely a superficial monetary sense,"........it started getting a bit silly.'

    Thanks I agree it is getting a bit overheated but Ben took a personal shot and I found it offensive. Silly, no.

  • Comment number 98.

    archBritishchris - Very well put. I agree with you on the Ruddock fight, that was possibly the most exciting in Lewis' career.

  • Comment number 99.

    Wow! It is great to see such passion exuding from fans - Ben Dirs excluded of course.

    I do find this argument on whether fight to be rather tedious but let me give my two-penneth. I think it is misguided to associate mainstream recognition with significance. One must remember that people that aren't boxing fans that tune in casually to watch a fight are often enticed by the novelty factor.

    Take Haye/Valuev for instance - sure it was for a version of the World title but it was also the most discredited. One which had been bouncing back and forth between irrelevant fighters for the best part of a decade. The reason it attracted such massive PPV numbers - the best in almost a decade for Sky - was because of the freakish size of Valuev and the real-life David/Golaith battle.

    I have read Ben's articles before and he is corrected by fans quite often so Jerd16's amendments are nothing new. You should be grateful Ben that there are such knowledgable fans out there.

    As for this relentless harping on about boxing's flaws. Ben are you truly a fan of this sport, or are you just employed to cover it and do so under duress?

    Look, I and most boxing fans would agree with you that it does have flaws, some glaring. But when you harp on about them in every article you start to ingrain in readers minds that it is a fickle, frail sport dying a slow death. Sure boxing has its vices, they need to be highlighted from time to time but do us all a favour and switch the repeat button off on the stereo.

  • Comment number 100.

    Sorry edit - It should read - I do find this argument on what makes fights relevant to be rather tedious

 

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