Haye v Chisora: Boxing madder than ever
Those who condemn the bout between David Haye and Dereck Chisora presumably condemn the bout between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Or perhaps not. More likely they eulogise over "The Rumble In The Jungle", a multi-million dollar fight orchestrated by a man who once kicked another man to death and which took place in Zaire, a poverty-stricken African country run by a maniacal despot who publicly executed dissenters in a stadium that doubled as a dungeon.
David Haye and Dereck Chisora at the announcement of their fight. Photo: Getty
Bigger crimes have been committed in boxing by far bigger names than Haye and Chisora, which is why some connected to the sport will find all the hand-wringing over July's fight hysterical in its hypocrisy. For those still not convinced, look up the Brawl in Porthcawl on the web and marvel at the great Brian London ironing out Dick Richardson's trainer, a man about twice his age and half his size. The year? 1960. The punishment? A £1,000 fine - a substantial amount then - but, crucially, no ban.
Boxing is mad, bad and dangerous to know and always has been, since men fought with bare knuckles on heaths. So mad, that if I told you the Luxembourg Boxing Federation, under which auspices Haye-Chisora will take place, has included a clause in the fight contract allowing the use of tripods, some people might even believe me.
People will say nothing should be measured by the crimes of its past but if this is the way the sport has always been then how can people claim to be disappointed by it? It wasn't that long ago that Mike Tyson was rolling about on the floor taking chunks out of Lennox Lewis's leg and threatening to eat his children. Guess what? The bout itself went down a bomb, becoming the highest-grossing event in pay-per-view history.
Then again, there are two sides to every story, and this story is positively polygonal. So forgive me for echoing what I wrote in the immediate aftermath of Haye and Chisora's Munich melee, namely that the real problem is not that this tawdry affair happened at all but that, as far as many are concerned, it took place in a vacuum.
When boxing was a more mainstream concern, boxing people were able to point to better things when things went wrong. However, the Munich melee was the only 'boxing' many would have seen for months, if not years. And when this week's other big boxing news is the fight between Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson potentially falling through because Peterson has failed a drugs test, you've got a bit of a problem.
Questions also have to be asked of Frank Warren, the manager of Chisora, who is prepared to let his fighter box despite his behaviour in Munich - which don't forget included the weigh-in slap of Vitali Klitschko and the pre-match spit at Wladimir.
"A message has to be sent out that some conduct is not acceptable," conceded Warren after the British Boxing Board of Control's decision to withdraw Chisora's licence. So why is Chisora in the ring again so soon? "Why should he [Chisora] not make a living?" said Warren on Tuesday. Because he slapped and spat at two large Ukrainians before threatening to shoot and "physically burn" David Haye. Whatever that means.
Warren is at pains to point out that he has done nothing legally wrong, which is true. But what about morally? And the fact he was able to skirt around the regulations so easily highlights just what a farcical muddle boxing is in: banned by Britain's boxing board, so Warren asks the boxing board of Luxembourg (which has no professional fighters) to license his man to fight in Britain and a German company, Sauerland, to promote it. Mad? If boxing was an animal, it would be tethered to a tree and shot.
But in a sport saturated with governing bodies, the only governing body that matters is money. And while it will irritate some that Haye and Chisora are able to benefit financially from their Munich melee, the irony is that the British public will ultimately decide whether they deserve it or not. Expect Upton Park to be packed. And given Haye's speed against Chisora's durability, they will probably see a pretty good fight.