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Boxing fights on regardless

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Ben Dirs | 06:37 UK time, Friday, 2 March 2012

Contrary to what some would have us believe, David Haye and Dereck Chisora's melee in Munich was not the end of British boxing as we know it. Pre-fight trash-talk, news conference brawls, post-fight riots, none are new to the sport, as veteran journalist Colin Hart made clear at Thursday's BBC boxing summit at London's York Hall.

"I've been covering the sport for 50 years," said Hart, "and things like that have always happened." But it would be disingenuous - and complacent - for those within boxing to claim the unsavoury dust-up between Chisora and Haye was simply more of the same. For it is all about context.

When the middleweight world title fight between Britain's Alan Minter and American great Marvin Hagler at Wembley in 1980 descended into a riot, boxing writers labelled the scenes a disgrace. But those same boxing writers, rightly defensive of their sport, could point to better things.

David Haye

Former WBA heavyweight champion David Haye (right) was involved in a ruckus with fellow British boxer Dereck Chisora in Munich, in Germany. PHOTO: Reuters

Three months before Minter-Hagler was the first fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Robert Duran; two months later was Leonard-Duran II. Boxing was booming, slap-bang in mainstream. It could afford to make mistakes.

Moving on 32 years, boxing - rarely seen on terrestrial TV, and tucked away in newspaper 'in briefs' - is a more peripheral concern. And so, to many members of the British public, Chisora-Haye took place in a vacuum, the only 'boxing' they would have seen for months, if not years. But more on that later.

Here's what Mark Abberley, the Amateur Boxing Association of England chief executive, had to say: "There are lots of good people at grass-roots level trying to tell youngsters what kind of people they can become through our sport. The concern is two individuals' actions might undermine all that good work."

But while members of the summit panel, from Chisora's manager and promoter Frank Warren to British boxing stars Kevin Mitchell and Darren Barker - agreed the image of boxing had taken a beating, the impression I got following the nonsense in Munich was not so much that people were disgusted by boxing, but that they were laughing at it. Which is far more worrying.

For if people are disgusted by you, it suggests they expected better from you in the first place. If people are laughing at you, it suggests they expected nothing different, that any semblance of respect had already been eaten away.

With Chisora-Haye put to one side, the summit turned to the reasons why people within boxing are less able than they were to point to better things, which is where it got complicated. As one member of the audience pointed out, having listened to all sides: "Boxing sounds like a nest of vipers."

The main beef the public have with the sport is the best not fighting the best. "In football, Manchester United play Arsenal two or three times a year," said BBC boxing commentator Mike Costello. "In tennis, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer play each other all the time. In boxing, natural matches just aren't happening."

Hart gave the example of Tyson Fury v David Price, a potential domestic classic that recently fell through after Fury chose to vacate his British heavyweight crown rather than defend against former Olympic medallist Price.

Ironically it was television, so often cited as boxing's potential saviour, that nixed it. Mark Sharman, who took the sport to Channel 5, the only terrestrial station currently showing live professional boxing, confirmed this. He explained that having invested in the "Tyson Fury story", had Fury lost his belt on Sky, where Price fights, "Channel 5 risked the story being dead".

Throw in the modern obsession with unbeaten records, the proliferation of governing bodies and individual governing bodies with more than one world champion, and you have a narrative that is more difficult to follow than Ulysses.

And then we had to talk about Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao, the only match-up any casual boxing fan wants to see and a fight that might never come off. "I'm just frustrated by the process," said Guardian boxing writer Kevin Mitchell. "To the extent that I don't care if it never happens."

Most fans will share Mitchell's frustration while wanting the fight to eventually happen. The worry is that, with the punters having waited so long, a dud bout could be as damaging as if it never happened: "Is that what five years of hype was about?" people will ask. "Is that really the best that boxing's got?"

"Boxing is like no other sport," said branding expert Nigel Currie. "The power is with the individual boxers and promoters and these governing bodies don't have the same power as governing bodies in other sports.

"Until we have a situation where there is one governing body that is powerful enough we will be left with the shambles we've got now." Indeed, boxing is the exception that proves the rule: that single monumental, almost authoritarian, governing bodies in sport - Fifa, the IOC - are a necessary evil.

Warren went on to explain that another reason certain fights do not happen is because certain television executives do not want to stage them. At which point, just about everyone assembled turned their guns on the BBC.

"The BBC have to take some responsibility," said Warren, "they do not listen to the licence fee payers. Boxing has provided some of the biggest audiences in history on terrestrial TV." Fellow promoter Eddie Hearn agreed. He said: "The BBC just doesn't like the sport." Hart added: "It's about time someone at the BBC kicked a few backsides. It's all down to snobbishness."

It was left to Costello - a former amateur boxer and trainer and boxing man through and through - to defend the corporation's position. "Virtually every big fight in this country is on BBC radio," said Costello, "but television simply cannot afford the top-end fights any more, the sports budget has been slashed."

Despite its limited exposure on terrestrial TV, business would appear to be booming. British Boxing Board of Control chief Robert Smith claimed there were more shows in the UK than in the whole of Europe last year, while 3.2m tuned in to watch Fury fight Chisora on Channel 5 last July.

Which goes to show: people might tell you boxing has no place in today's society, but people today want to see two men having a row just as much as they did 100 years ago, whether in the form of boxing, MMA or any number of combat sports.

Below the Byzantine workings of professional boxing, the rude health of the amateur game is easier to divine. Boxing pundit Steve Bunce claimed there were more people boxing in Britain today than in the 1950s - which, given the explosion of boxing as a middle-class fitness pursuit, is easy to believe - while MP Charlotte Leslie, who heads up the All Party Parliamentary Group for Boxing, revealed that the sport is now in 2,000 schools, up from 20 in 2005.

I will save you the usual cliches - about improving self-esteem and self-discipline in kids, about instilling respect and channelling anger - but only because you have heard them all before and they aren't cliches at all, but truisms.

"I'd rather my kids were in the gym than out on the streets doing drugs, mugging people and stealing cars," said Kevin Mitchell, the boxer. "And another thing: when the riots were going on last summer, my gym was full."

The biggest round of applause of the evening was for James Cook, a former British and European super-middleweight champion who was awarded an MBE in 2007 for his work teaching boxing to inner-city kids. "All I ask is that when they enter the club they follow the rules and show some respect," said Cook.

So what did this summit teach us? If you knew anything about boxing beforehand, then nothing new. Give me 10 seconds and I will tell you how to make pro boxing a mainstream sport: one or two champions at each weight, transparent rankings, the best forced to fight the best. Stick it on the box and everyone will be watching, just as they did in the good old days. But, shame of shames, none of that is going to happen any time soon.

Too many vested interests, too many people pulling in different directions. Perhaps we should just be thankful boxing is still here despite it all. But, whatever you do, don't let Chisora and Haye fool you: what the summit did reinforce was that the sport of boxing still brims with an awful lot of good.


  • Comment number 1.

    i dont understand why this is getting so much coverage in the sports news,
    cast your minds back people,

    lennox lewis and tyson brawling before a fight, action taken? pretty much nothing and their fight still went on because of the money involved

    morales vs barrera, barrera actually punched(not slapped) morales at the weigh in, conclusion, they still fought on and produced one of the best fights in history

    sportswriters as usual jump on the bandwagon and tend to pick and choose who to criticise and blame, the only thing the i cringed at was the spit by chisora at wlad which was disgraceful other than that its combat sport, and the slap and brawl have been blown pout of proportion compared to past events which ive mentioned

  • Comment number 2.

    From the perspective of the armchair boxing fan, I'm not so interested in dwelling on the Haye-Chisora rumble as ultimately I don't think people look upon either Derek Chisora or David Haye as representatives of the sport. I think this is unfair on Haye in particular as he is an ex world champ, but these days the pair of them just look like shameless self-promoters, and nobody takes them all that seriously.

    As Ben Dirs points out, the big problem in boxing is that the sport has descended into a big sprawling mess of various governing bodies, promoters, television stations, individual boxers - all fighting to assert some sort of control over their piece of the pie.

    Now don't shoot me, but I'm a bit of a UFC fan and it's worth drawing a comparison between the sports as the UFC has mercilessly eaten up smaller organisations to the point where it now has every single one of the top fighters on the planet under its umbrella. This has allowed them to make sure the biggest fights, and more importantly the fights the fans want to see, happen all the time.

    I don't know if there's any counter argument to having a similar situation in boxing, but just for the moment lets assume that would be the ideal...

    Ben - is there any possible path to a similar unified governing body in boxing, even looking out to the long term? Are the old organisations far too entrenched for this to be a possibility? Would there be any interest from, say, the WBA to buy the WBO?

  • Comment number 3.

    @ 1

    I agree with you, the media does tend to choose its stories. However, great blog as always Ben. I always enjoy reading them.

  • Comment number 4.

    @ 1

    The difference with the examples you give is that those instances all took place before fights that were about to take place. I'm not condoning them at all and I agree they didn't cast the sport in a good light. I'm just saying in this instance I would say it's worse because Haye and Chisora weren't scheduled to fight, Haye isn't even a licensed fighter at the moment.

    You're right about the spitting though, Chisora was lucky Wlad didn't spark him out right there for doing that. It's actually quite sad, he put in a terrific performance and there's barely any mention of it because of all the other antics he got involved in. It's his own fault for sure but he could have actually made a name for himself on that performance, instead all the casual fight fan has been talking about is what a complete clown the guy is.

  • Comment number 5.

    A lot of good points in the blog. Nothing new or groundbreaking, boxing is a mess.

    The reason its getting so much coverage is the change in the media over the years. Its good cheap news and with youtube and other sites, people can easily see what happened.

    I'm no fan of Chisora or Haye. I was in Hamburg last year and actually had money on Klitschko, you just cant fault him. Boring yes, unbeatable no, is there anyone around just now that can do it? Dont think so.

    We paid 130 euros a ticket and sat what felt like a mile from the ring but in a massive football stadium they managed to produce a great atmosphere and we had a great night. Unfortunately this is the nature of boxing now (heavyweight anyway). The fights are massively built up although they are almost always lopsided. There arent really any good equal big fights in heavyweight, the Klitschkos wont fight each other.

    Before I forget completely what I was going on about, I havent paid for ppv for at least ten years. I dont understand who would. I would personally take offence at people suggesting the BBC should contribute money to people like Haye and Chisora, but then I'm not that keen on them paying for Eastenders either.

    If you want hype then the big fights are alright. Local amateur boxing is alive and well, British boxing needs to somehow bridge the gap into the professionals.

    Of course American boxing has a much bigger feeder pool but the boxers over there are a different class when they get in the ring, they are hungry.

  • Comment number 6.

    Ben, you've mentioned a lot of problems (and how they can be solved) with boxing but you have omitted perhaps the most damaging one. MMA, and other forms of competition.

    When asked 5 years ago if I thought MMA would overtake boxing in the popularity stakes, I would have said (and did say to someone) that it would never happen because boxing had 100+ years of being ingrained into society so MMA would always be on the backfoot.

    Ask me the same question now, five years later and my answer is totally different. Not only has boxing been damaged by MMA's competition, I actually fear for the sports future, since the future is always championed by the young un's, and all the young un's I speak to want to talk about is MMA. They see boxing as a fogey's sport, uncool. And there's another problem you havent mentioned. Boxing's image not just with the punters (you mentioned that to be fair, would be hard not to in a soul searching blog such as this), but more importantly, boxing's image with those all important youngsters.

    They dont laugh at it. They dont feel disgusted by it. They just think it's had its day, and that in itself would be a hard problem to fix. You wont fix that attitude by even introducing all of the fixes you mention, which leads me to believe that something is being lost in translation, that people really DONT know what the real problem with boxing is, much less how to fix it.

    If you've lost the youngsters, you've lost the future. Put as many fights on the telly as you like, if the young un's think it's uncool they are not going to watch. Put as many exciting matchups on a bill as you can, and televise it, but if some 15 year old is walking around thinking its a fogey's game, then it wont matter.

    It's dangerous to sit around thinking you know what the problem is and how to fix it, especially when you really dont. That kind of attitude leads to complacency, and complacency leads us to where we are now. A sport losing its future.

  • Comment number 7.

    I'm with ralphanderson on this. I like MMA and boxing in equal measure theoretically, however in recent years the way boxing is run compared to how Dana White runs the UFC is incomparable, UFC wins hands down. I certainly now watch far more UFC than I do boxing.

    Not only do the best fight the best, the organisation tries to match all fights up to ensure contests are competitive and thus in theory entertaining to the fan

    Difficult to see where it will all end up but in my opinion boxing would be well advised to learn from the UFC just in case there were to be a changing of the guard longer term.....

  • Comment number 8.

    "seen on terrestrial TV, and tucked away in newspaper 'in briefs' "

    Ben I think you are being hugely disrespectful to boxing, the boxing community and its worlwide fanbase here.

    Every weekend there is boxing, okay it isn't on BBC because your bosses think its better to spend millions on paying the likes of Clarkson et al to drive ridiculous cars and make stupid comments. That does not mean that other channels don't promote and invest heavily in boxing.

    "the only match-up any casual boxing fan wants to see "

    well not all of us boxing fans are the casual fan Ben, and those of us who watched a cracking weekend of sport including Cleverley's home coming, Gavin resurecting his career, then staying up into the early hours to watch Devon Alexander, why do we need pacquiao vs mayweather??? that ship sailed a long time ago

  • Comment number 9.


    The difference is the language and weapons used. People were talking about "killing" and "burning" people in a literal sense. Sharp objects were thrown and blood was spilt. That is why this is rightly getting attention.

    On a slightly lighter note, I liked the story about how Klitchko's representative said Chisora had anger issues. When the Russian dude (or his representative) says you have anger issues, you really must have anger issues.

  • Comment number 10.

    at the end of the day boxing has become a joke, for lots and lots of reasons, its so obviously corrupt and money orientated that no one can take anything that happens seriously anymore, thankfully the UFC is nothing like this and i hope it never becomes like boxing though im sure one day it will, however now there is only 1 champ per weight, all the top fighters fight each other and an unbeaten record is somthing totally deserved and an amazing acheivement were as in boxing it seems you lose one fight and your career is over

    face it people boxing is dead, long live MMA

  • Comment number 11.

    However I do have to agree with you that the different organisations running the sport are ruining it in terms of getting the big fights on. But as you say there are too many vested interests in terms of money - but surely if you take all that aside the two people to blame for manny vs floyd not happening are the fighters.

    rafa wants to play roger. Sir Alex says at start of every season first fixture he looks for is liverpool.

    surely these boxers need to stop pandering to their idiotic promotoers (BOB ARUM!!!!) and get it on.

  • Comment number 12.

    # 10

    you tell the sell out crowd who watched Cleverley boxing is dead.

    Tell all the yorkshire and lancashire fans who will descend on sheffield to watch brook vs hatton that boxing is dead

    tell all the fans already lining up to buy tickets for Froch vs Bute that boxing is dead

    MMA I agree is a much better run organisation, and there are elements of corruption within boxing. But there are a lot of shining lights in boxing and one or two big names and one or two plonkers do not mean that boxing is dead by a long long way.

  • Comment number 13.


    agree completley,

    sky have a fight night every friday or saturday night, theres boxnation now which has recently sprung up, espn which has its friday night fights, yes of course you have to pay extra with these and alot of people cant afford to but im in a fortunate position where i can so i see alot of boxing so im happy with the coverage

    The single biggest problem with boxing imo is the not just the different sanctions but the belts within belts in certain sactions, i mean for example how has boxing got into a such a state where can u have 3 different wbc champions in 1 division( a super champion,a regular champion and a interim champion)? it makes a mockery of the actuall belt. Most seasoned fans will know its a cynical ploy to get sanctioning fees of fighters but the casual fan will look over at how the ufc is run(i believe its about 7weight classes and just one champ in each) and understand it alot better so will be more willing to become a fan of that sport

  • Comment number 14.


    exactly right with the belts and governing bodies

    did you see the silly decision with Huck vs Povetnik???

    They moved Wlad to "super champion" and give the WBA world belt to Povetkin - and will they ever fight? no because povetkin actually thinks hes good because the WBA have given him a belt!

    So yes the UFC is run better in one way in you have only 1 champ at 1 weight, but I don't mind having 4/5 belts because it means if there are 4 champs and they all fight each other its a lot of good boxing!

    and in all honestly i don't know many people who follow UFC much whereas I know plenty of people who are religious boxing fans!

    For the BBC to say they do not have the budget is absolutely ridiculous when you think of the money they waste on plonkers like Clarkson.

  • Comment number 15.

    ok maybe boxing is dead is a bit premature, there are plenty of good fighters out there but the constant controversy, avoiding of fights, so many belts its all a bit of a mess

    ufc is simple, entertaining and imo a lot more skillful and the fighters a lot more dedicated, overall i find it a hell of a lot more enjoyable in all respects, i mean you dont even get to see the ring girls in boxing anymore what the f! lol

  • Comment number 16.


    I dont mind the different bodies, wba, wbc, wba etc but its just the whole super/regular champ which has become a joke, its down to money at the end of the day as each new belt comes with having the fighter pay for the "privilage" of fighting for that belt.

    The bbc could do alot worse than to invest money into boxing coverage but they would rather pay ludicrous 7 or 8 figure sums on a new chatshow host i guess

  • Comment number 17.

    @ tee222111

    I agree it is frustrating but I think that is only with certain promoters not mentioning any names BOB ARUM!!!

    Promoters want to get the best deal for themselves at the end of the day which is fine, and we will never get the different bodies to unify because they make too much money - Jose Sulimain geezer as a good example - makes rules up as he goes along!!

    UFC is entertaining sometimes - I know grappling on the floor is technical but boring to watch a lot of that - the big boys who stand up and swing is exciting to watch but its not as technical as boxing because in boxing you can only punch. you cant kick or elbow or grab etc you can punch

    you try and hit a guy with a fist

    then you try and hit a guy with a fist, knee, elbow, arm, leg, knee, foot....

    you would have more success doing the latter

  • Comment number 18.

    Riggadon has it spot on - people ten years my junior are more interested in MMA. When i was a teenager watching Lennox Lewis / Nigel Benn / Big Frank et all fighting, the only competition it had was the WWF.

    Having different world bodies wasn’t such a problem in times gone by as generally there were better boxers and the US had a lot. Let’s be honest, that's where the interest is coming from and TV companies over there now see the appeal of the MMA. So that's probably the way we're going.

    With few British boxing heroes or really big names, No Ricky, Joe or Lennox to name but 3, there's less interest from the British papers. Subsequently, you could argue, there's little interest and thus BBC shouldn't be investing money into it.

    Oh - and leave the totally uniformed opinion re Top Gear to one side. BBC puts money into it because it's a huge success both in terms of viewing figures and, more importantly, it's most syndicated TV show, making the corporation a LOT of money.

  • Comment number 19.

    # 18

    oh well as long as its earning the BBC big wigs a lot of money thats brilliant.

    heres me thinking we pay our tv licence for choice and variety but the BBC has just about lost every sport going....

    The Ashes
    F1 half of it on sky this year
    golf (apart from the Open and Masters)
    Tennis except wimbledon and the latter stages of some tournaments
    a lot of football domestic and international

    but as long as we have Top Gear earning the £££ thats great.

  • Comment number 20.

    @ yorkshire

    i just want back to the days of really good fighters fighting each other instead of really good fighters fighting a lot of bums and avoiding any other really good fighter lol i like the look of Price recently though and i see Eubank Jnr having a few fights, i dont see Fury going far, there is a very decent british amatuer HW in name of Anthony Joshua i think, or Joshua Anthony, watch out for him after the olympics, big future possible

    in terms of MMA being not being as techincal or skilled, come on MMA fighters learn what 5,6,7,8 different disciplines? they train 6,7 hours a day, they have to learn submission moves, wrestling, boxing, judo, karate, how to escape submissions, TKD, etc etc boxers learn to move and punch thats it, tell me which is more skilled lol put it this way an MMA fighter would do a lot better in a boxing match than a boxer in an MMA match ..

  • Comment number 21.

    I know you may not like Mr Clarkson yorkshire blogster. However, the sales of Top Gear all around the world earns the BBC far more money and viewers than an ill-matched so called boxing match

  • Comment number 22.

    @ tee

    I agree to some extent because we all want the big names to fight the big names! And there are some up and coming beauties in the wings. Mike Perez is a future heavyweight world champion but he is learning his trade across the world - has fought in UK, America, South America, he is an unbeaten amatuer world champion - and hes cuban!!!! when he is seasoned I think he will be very very good

    I also think that a lot of potential world class fighters are rushed. look how many hatton had to fight before he got a world title shot - 30+??

    and look at the likes of De Gale who for some reason think after 10 fights they are world class?? khan was rushed too!

  • Comment number 23.

    quote #18

    "oh well as long as its earning the BBC big wigs a lot of money thats brilliant."

    yeah, it is good. It continues to show a huge diverse amount of sport - perhaps not ones that you like. It does show football too, lots of it.

    "heres me thinking we pay our tv licence for choice and variety but the BBC has just about lost every sport going...."

    Yes - it's called pay TV in the forms of Sky and ITV with advertising.

    The Ashes - Pay TV, can't compete
    F1 half of it on sky this year - Pay TV, can't compete
    boxing - Pay TV, can't compete AND pay-per-view
    golf (apart from the Open and Masters) Pay TV, can't compete - but arguably got the best ones
    Tennis except wimbledon and the latter stages of some tournaments - did it ever show anything esle?
    a lot of football domestic and international - Pay TV, can't compete - anyway , thats cobblers. hasnt showed live top flight football in my lifetime

    "but as long as we have Top Gear earning the £££ thats great."


  • Comment number 24.

    @ tee (2)

    I didnt mean I dont think MMA is not techincal, it most obviously is

    you would have a great argument with Glen McCrory on this subject he is an avid hater of MMA!!!

    boxers have gone across and tried MMA and got battered (butter bean, tarver) but I think you put a top class MMA fighter against a top class boxer the boxer would dance rings around him

  • Comment number 25.

    @ 21 & 23

    Top Gear brings the BBC a load of money - great, and just because I don't like clarkson or the show does not mean millions don't

    what im saying is why can they can pay 7-figure salaries but cant show some decent boxing matches??

    they offered Price £100k to fight fury - are you saying the BBC can't compete with that??

    also there is a reason that pay tv makes millions and shows these sports is because they are watched by millions and make money!!

    and I don't buy "can't compete" they simply won't try to compete

    if they could pay Jonathon Ross £6million a year how can they not bid for some other sports????

  • Comment number 26.

    i am a very keen sports fan but with a limited budget in comparison, to ppv, BBC has to cut its cloth accordingly. It has therefore to be selective with its sports coverage. Also, it is a bad year this year with it broadcasting the olympic games where there will no doubt be more presenters/pundits than sporstman.

  • Comment number 27.

    I notice that BBC no longer pay Mr Ross. Might have something to do with the fact that they cannot afford to

  • Comment number 28.

    What I find irritating about the recent Chisora/Haye events is the inconsistancy displayed by governing bodies.
    I'm not for one second condoning what took place, which started out as a chance for Haye to again self promote but at the point where he decided to take over the press conference he should have been removed. That said Chisora who spent most of the weekend out of control should not have reacted.
    But lest we forget a certain Mr Tyson who whilst hungry decided to dine out on Holyfields ear. Instant ban and no hearing? MMMM Life ban would have been more appropriate. Gone are the days of seconds out watching the likes of Eubank in his early days. Sad that we don't get to see boxing now unless we hand over a kings ransom

  • Comment number 29.


    I understand they won't have anything like the resources of Sky or ITV etc - but all they seem to have done over the last decade is lose sport.

    True about the Olympics there will be a lot of wasted wages on failed athletes come pundits

    albeit there are some very good ones - I think Jonathon Edwards is quite good, Kelly Holmes and the rowing boys always talk sense.

    It just does not sit well with me the vast money they spend on some things and lose out on sport that they could make more of an effort with and show. Hatton vs Brook they could have bid for - great british domestic fight

    I blame fraudley....

  • Comment number 30.

    @24 Yorkshire - "put a top class MMA fighter against a top class boxer the boxer would dance rings around him". Yes, in boxing. But the MMA fighter would humiliate him in an MMA bout (I'm looking at you, James Toney).

    It's like saying Rafa Nadal would run rings around Phil "The Power" Taylor.

    Besides, boxing is one of the core disciplines for an MMA fighter. MMA means more people are going to boxing gyms, if anything. But Ben's suggestion to "fix" boxing: "one or two champions at each weight, transparent rankings, the best forced to fight the best" pretty much describes the UFC (aside from the transparent rankings - the company will always look to put on the fights it thinks will draw the PPV dollars. Winning fights is good, but winning in an entertaining way will get you further).

  • Comment number 31.

    I think one thing that yorkshire_blogster has so far failed to understand is that the likes of Top Gear are actually essential to the Beeb being able to show even the limited sports that it does.

    Top Gear brings in a huge amount of money - via the commercial arm of the BBC - which is then completely returned to the corporation so that it has more to spend on other programmes (or put another way, to subsidise what it already makes). The BBC is a non-profit organisation, and it is banned by the terms of its charter from making profits from the likes of phone voting for Strictly or from selling boxing matches on a ppv basis. It does still have a limited budget - it doesn't decide the licence fee and it can't sell advertising - so the only way for it to get more money and make better programmes/show better sport is therefore through merchandising and making programmes that it can sell abroad. So without the likes of Clarkson and the Natural History Unit, you'd probably be reduced to watching Inter-pub Dominoes.

  • Comment number 32.

    BBC might be able to afford more sport it if didn't spend so much money on advertising their own programmes. With the way the conservative party begrudge funding anything other than their own bank balances then there may come a time in the not so distant future that there won't be publicly funded tv/radio in this great kingdom of ours

  • Comment number 33.

    Inter pub dominoes could be quite exciting. perhaps we could get clarkson to promote it and it would go down a storm.....

  • Comment number 34.


    James Toney lol epic fail haha

  • Comment number 35.

    Dereck Chisora might be good at dominoes. There's normally plenty of slapping of them on the table

  • Comment number 36.

    @ 33

    If it brought in more money than it cost to make (which probably wouldn't be hard, except that Clarkson is going to cost a bit these days), then there's an argument for doing it. It might help bring in enough to show the National Tiddleywinks Championship, for example.

    Who knows where that might end up? From little acorns...

  • Comment number 37.

  • Comment number 38.

    Audley Harrison vs Derek Chisora, Triumvirate of pub games televised live on BBC. Darts Dominoes and Pool.

    BBC Pay Per View Channel 101A

    £2-50 and you get a free pack of pork scratchings

  • Comment number 39.

    A nice, well written article, but boxing fans are aware of it's problems and it's sad that no one can say when or if the problems will go away, I doubt it will be in my lifetime anyway (and I'm only 30).
    Boxing isn't dead, but is struggling to attract sufficient numbers of new fans in my opinion, and episodes like Haye-Chisora are perhaps showing people that the sport is out of control and as a result they're not taking it seriously. Take the WBC's stance that Chisora is banned, that doesn't mean he can't fight for a "world" title, does it? If this was UFC, and fighters had scrapped like that at a press conference, if the UFC then subsequently banned them, that would be that wouldn't it? Career over and where would they earn such big money and gain that exposure? That deterrent does not exist in boxing and no one needs telling that it's because too many people are simply lining their own pockets.
    I like boxing in the way that I like football, there's too much wrong with each sport to really love it, but when it's good, it's really really good.
    All we can do is pick out and focus on the good points of boxing, as this article suggests. Every year there is no argument that we are served up some fantastic entertainment, in between the disappointments, but it is those "fight of the year" contenders that make it worth still following boxing, in my opinion anyway.
    Keep up the good work Ben, and keep fighting the good fight.

  • Comment number 40.

    Ben a very good blog (again) and some great responses. I think most sane people would agree that Haye Chisora was an unacceptable disgrace. However, the more fundamental issues here relate to the future of the sport. I dont like MMA and never will, however, as others have said the way the UFC is run puts boxing to shame and therein lies the rub.

    Boxing is slowly dying a death; TV coverage, PPV events (that rip the real fans off)protected interests, alphabet organisations etc. In many ways professional boxing and UFC is comparable to the darts divide. on the one hand you have the BDO (the original organisation with 'the world championship') and on the other you have the PDC (better run, better managed, more prize money etc). the BDO buried its head in the sand for 20 years about the young upstarts and only a few months ago finally woke up to whats happend (and its now too late to turn the clock back).

    I'm not trying to compare boxing with darts by the stories of their organisation is comparable and if boxing does not put its house in order soon, it will go the same way as the BDO and will be left in the wake of UFC in terms of widespread interest. Boxing can co-exist with UFC but people are losing interest fast in boxing. Those who want to protect their slice of the pie may well find soon that there is no pie left

  • Comment number 41.

    I wouldn't sayboxing has been ruined by TV or promoters as they have always played their part. However the combination of pay per view, mega promoters and some of the smarter fighters getting sick of being ripped off by promoters, thus moving to self promotion has created an environment where it is difficult to get boxers to consistently pit themselves against the best as TV and promoters treat any loss in the same manner and by 'hyping' a fight a boxer like Haye can earn almost the same money by fighting a no hoper like Harrison as he could challenging the best in the division. Chisora and Haye have captured so much attention with the 'brawl' that the occasional boxing fan will struggle to name another british match up they'd rather see. Boxing has become a bit like tabloid newspapers, scandal, celebrity and hype sell far better than simply saying these are the two best boxers!

  • Comment number 42.

    Somewhat ironic that the BBC should hold a summit on the future of boxing when an argument could be made that the lack of terrestrial coverage is one of boxing's biggest problems.

  • Comment number 43.

    The Haye / Chisora fiasco will not have any detrimental effect on boxing, give it another 2 weeks and it'll be forgotten.
    Boxing's problems are, and have been for decades now, rooted in the evil called greed !
    And that's from the world champions at the top down to the up and coming stars on a 5 fight unbeaten start to their careers. Every time i tune into a televised card on the TV i dismay at the match-ups.
    The promoters are so scared of their "cash-cows" losing that they feed them bums for as long as they can to satisfy their greed. They tout them as being world-class and in line for a world title fight but continue to churn out against nobodys.
    How many times do we read about somebody like Tyson Fury being the next big thing, then turn on the telly and watch him fanny about with a fat bloke who was working the doors last week.
    You watch at the next televised card in England. They don't even put up the won / lost records on the screen because the bloke flown in from Belarus has a record of 8 wins and 17 defeats.
    It's embarrassing !
    Go back as far as Frank Bruno - he was 30 - 0 and still hadn't fought anybody that you'd heard of. Then along comes BoneCrusher and the bubble is burst.
    The promoters are killing the game.
    Boxing needs to look at UFC in this regard. Fighters are more often than not, relatively equally matched and the action reflects this - enteraining fights.
    Plus, in UFC, a defeat isn't the end of the world. But lose in boxing and everybody clamours for you to retire.
    Look at Ricky Hatton - 30+ wins (against Joe Nobodys) then battered by Pacman and his careers over !
    Boxing stinks..........

  • Comment number 44.

    No time to post comprehensively, but one to throw into the mix on the state of boxing is the fantastic progress made by Britain's amateur boxers (male and female) and the whole system around developing them, which is a real success story - hopefully we'll see more coverage on this ahead of the Olympics later this year - could be some great performances by GB athletes...

  • Comment number 45.

    It's also ironic that, once again, the comments on a boxing blog turn to the UFC/MMA when the BBC steadfastly ignores its existence. The sport is making some headway in the mainstream media (the Daily Telegraph and Daily Star cover it) yet other outlets pretend it doesn't exist. Perhaps it's a generational thing. Ben might have a moan later on that a boxing discussion has turned to MMA again, but it's the combat sport you can follow without feeling frustrated, embarrassed or disappointed on a regular basis.

  • Comment number 46.

    Let's have this debate again in 6 months time when we are basking in the glory of 3 gold medals from the Olympics, all shown on terrestrial TV. Boxing goes through peaks and troughs, and now is not a good time, but 6 months hence the garden will be rosy.

  • Comment number 47.

    Do the BBC not validate statements anymore? Are things just taken at face value without anyone checking the facts? More people boxing now than in the 50's? Boxing taking place in 2,000 schools? What nonsense.

    Just by way of example - in 1954 there were over 53,000 boxers entered into the schools championships. This season there were less than 400.
    The boxing schools policy was launched 3 years ago and has failed miserably - in fact participation in the sport has reduced considereably. There are less than 18,000 registers amateur boxers in this country. The claim that there are 2,000 registered schools does not stack up. For example, if we assumed that within those 2,000 schools there was an average of 10 school children taking part then that would mean an additional 20,000 participants.
    Boxing has lost its way - it has become political and is being driven by civil servants hell bent on meeting participation and inclusion stats. The result is that the waters become muddy and when you actually seperate the "real" registered boxers from those who only partake in exercise you find that participation in the sport is at an all time low.
    Unfortunately, the waters are muddied even further by way of slick PR and wild claims from reporters and the like who half a self interest in "bigging up" the sport.

    The BBC should ask Charlotte why, if the ABAE's schools boxing policy, was so successful they have ripped it up and replaced it with non contact based competition?

    The facts are simple, just ask any ABA coach who runs a club and is aware of the real situation. The number of registered boxers has fallen to an all time low, the number of amatuer boxing shows has fallen to an all time, the number of bouts has fallen to an all time low. . . The statistics to prove it. MMA and cage fighting is the fastest growing sport in this country - and how do the boxing authorities react - they make a policy decision, (as at last week), to ban contact boxing in schools in order to encurage children to participate in non contact competition.

    Why haven't the BBC challenged these statistics? If you analyse the stats carefully you will realise that the public is being taken for a ride. The number of ACTUAL boxers has fallen - the only increase is in relation to those taking part in keep fit / boxing exercise related activity - (boxercise, skipping for half hour once a week). These people have been moved from "exercise" stats to actual "boxing" stats - if you don't believe me contact Sport ENgland and find out for yourself.

    Finally, why don't you ask Richard Caborn why he made a statement last year criticising the government for falling participation rates in sport? Isn't this the same man who, last year, claimed that there were 20,000 women boxers yet only last month revised the stats to 2,000!

    I must say one thing about the way statistics are gathered and presented - it proves that you can fool all of the people all of the time!

  • Comment number 48.


    Great point. Sky TVs promotion of boxing is eccellent and it is not a minority sport

  • Comment number 49.

    Hello all and many thanks for your comments, lots of interesting stuff as ever.

    On UFC, I think many of you are right, boxing has a lot to learn from it, and I don't think anyone can realy argue that it hasn't stolen some of boxing's thunder. However, I think it should be noted that UFC is effectively a governing body, not a sport in itself, and that other MMA bodies do exist. As to why the BBC don't cover it, once again I have to hand that over to my superiors - I have no idea why.

    As to those noting that worse than the brawl was Chisora's spitting and slapping, that seemed to be the general consensus on Thursday night.

    On the fact boxing isn't on BBC TV, I can only echo what Mike Costello said: we just haven't got the cash to fund top-end fights. And as Mike also pointed out, it's a bit rich asking the BBC to groom fighters, as they did with Haye and Froch, only for them to go somewhere else when the big fights come knocking. On Top Gear, that's a ridiculous point, to be frank: I don't like cars, just as I don't realy like costume dramas, but I realise a lot of people do and they rake in an awful lot of money for the corporation.

  • Comment number 50.

    yorkshire_blogster - "Hugely disrespectful to boxing, the boxing community and its worlwide fanbase here". I was just stating a fact: boxing is rarely seen on terrestrial TV and most fights aren't covered by the national newspapers. How much ink will be used on the Jamie McDonnell v Ivan Pozo European title fight this weekend? Although I do agree with you when you say boxing certainly isn't dead. (Brook v Hatton is already a sell-out, according to Eddie Hearn). On inter-pub dominoes with Clarkson, you obviously don't remember Indoor League!

    On governing bodies, yep, it's a joke. Matt Macklin fights Sergio Martinez next month for the WBC's 'diamond' belt, which means it isn't officially a world title fight, which means it makes it a difficult sell, for editors and punters alike. It also means British middleweights Macklin, Martin Murray and Darren Barker were all able to fight for world titles last year without ever having fought each other.

  • Comment number 51.

    Bomber - Agree, I think the Olympics will be a shot in the arm for the sport. And if Anthony Joshua wins...

    luigi8888 - The fact so few fighters were entered into the schools champs is because most of the boxing in schools is non-contact. So, no, the claim within the blog isn't nonsense. Also, while Bunce's claim there are more people boxing today than in the 50s sounds contentious, I can well believe it - although it does depend on how you define 'boxing'. For example, 10 years ago I had very few friends who boxed, now I know a lot, but this isn't the same as saying they will ever engage in a fight. So, effectively, we're comparing apples and oranges.

    Where you do have a point is in your criticism of the links between schools and clubs, and the ABAE came in for a bit of a shellacking on Thursday. You're right to say that boxing 'exercise' isn't the same as 'real' boxing and that this needs to be addressed. But as far as I am aware, it wasn't the boxing authorities who nixed contact boxing in schools, but the government and Sport England.

  • Comment number 52.

    The Sergio Martinez one is a disgrace - of course hes the best middleweight in the world and just because Sulimain doesn't like him he gives him a different title.

    That is the major frustration for boxing fans is that people like him and BOB ARUM have so much power. Pacquiao's fights all tend to be against people from Arum's promotional team - and even when he gets beat comprehensively he still gets the points decision.

    My only idea is to form a world governing body that oversees all the other bodies - but I suppose you would need to get all the different bodies to sign up to such a thing. How many dodgy refereeing decisions go un challenged???

    I did think the last paragraph of your blog summed everything up well Ben.

  • Comment number 53.

    # 43

    to say Ricky Hatton fought nobody's is obviously an opinion from someone who has never been in a ring in a fight. He fought the best of who were out there and he only got found out against 2 out the great lb for lb fighters of his generation - what more do you want him to do??

    do you not watch boxing?? bellew vs cleverley - great fight

    hatton vs brook - going to be a great fight

    khan vs maidana - amazing fight

    if you had watched all the boxing that was available on sky and box nation on saturday you would have seem some poor fights but there were some good ones as well

  • Comment number 54.

    It's utter nonsense to suggest the meaningless Chisora Haye brawl did anything bad for boxing as a global sport. Even the barbaric Tyson biting an ear off didn't cause much of a ripple.
    If anything it perked up a sport dulled by a complete lack of flair at Heavyweight level.
    Chisora though must be hung out to dry...not for the fisticuffs but for the disgusting threats to shoot Haye. We don't need idiots like that encouraging more youngsters to believe that is the way to deal with conflicts, real or imagined.

  • Comment number 55.

    No big fights on terrestrial TV is one of many problems it seems. It's made worse that they are on PPV usually. Paying £15 for a main fight which could last less than a few minutes takes the pee, is just greedy and self-destructive for the sport as well.

    Shame on Sky. Shame on ITV/BBC. We get to watch a crap sport like F1 instead, watching overpriced cars going around and around and around (yawn) in circles instead.

    The bad behaviour and dodging fights is as old as the sport and the governing bodies (too many) needn't be the problem it seems if you bin the need for subscription and PPV that is killing the sport I love.

  • Comment number 56.

    i think the crux of it might come down to this para:
    And then we had to talk about Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao, the only match-up any casual boxing fan wants to see and a fight that might never come off. "I'm just frustrated by the process," said Guardian boxing writer Kevin Mitchell. "To the extent that I don't care if it never happens."

    Most casual boxing fans, of which i am now one, would pay £20 to see that on PPV telly. Why is it not happening?

    I cant think of many other sports when something so important to that sport is possibly not going to happen, even though it would ABSOLUTELY COIN IT.

  • Comment number 57.

    The lack of TV on FTA is a probelm for the sport but at least there is channel 5 the Fury fights have been entertaining, hopefully ITV may come back in the future.
    However I do think that the BBC should as the national broadcaster show all sports even if it just the ABA'S. Its shortsighted that with the Olympics coming up unlike some of the other sports no one knows who these guys are. The promoters do have to take some of the blame Frank Warren has set up his own TV station. Maybe less bloggers is the answer!

  • Comment number 58.

    "Give me 10 seconds and I will tell you how to make pro boxing a mainstream sport: one or two champions at each weight, transparent rankings, the best forced to fight the best."

    This is exactly what happens in MMA. This not only explains it's huge (and still growing) popularity, but also it's relevance. I love boxing but it's being replaced by something far more dynamic and and accessible. MMA has filled the void left by boxing. Maybe one day the BBC will be forced to actually offer some coverage for one of the most popular sports in the world? But as Warren commented I suspect it's all down snobbery. Even the BBC's boxing coverage seems begrudging somehow!

  • Comment number 59.

    Ben Dirs wrote...The fact so few fighters were entered into the schools champs is because most of the boxing in schools is non-contact. So, no, the claim within the blog isn't nonsense. Also, while Bunce's claim there are more people boxing today than in the 50s sounds contentious, I can well believe it - although it does depend on how you define 'boxing'. For example, 10 years ago I had very few friends who boxed, now I know a lot, but this isn't the same as saying they will ever engage in a fight. So, effectively, we're comparing apples and oranges.

    In light of the discussion why does the term 'Boxing' need to be defined in order to make sense of figures that are quite frankly wrong?

    From Wikipedia: Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people engage in a contest using only their fists.

    I'll stand corrected but last nights broadcast as far as i'm aware did not feature anybody from Fitness First, Virgin Health or any other of the health industries sellers of recreational boxing. One would presume the reason to be that those in attendance, or at least the majority, could actually define for themselves what is boxing as a sport and what is exercise using boxing as a marketing tool?

    Can you imagine the Olympic sport of weightlifting claiming that their's is a sport enjoyed by many because of the tens of thousands of people who've bought a set of dumbells from Argos?

    Your friends do not 'box', are not 'boxers' in the same way that I swim but am not a swimmer. Anybody who kids themselves that participation leads to competition need only look at one of the clubs spoken about last night. Hanwell ABC may well be doing great things with their gym jam packed 6 nights a week but they have only 12 active and available competitive boxers. Perhaps that's a debate for another day, the simple question being ...why?

  • Comment number 60.

    I was there last night, and I have to say it seemed only the boxing professionals that got to have their say, I spoke 1st of the public and I think maybe 6 people in total spoke while the journalists and managers/trainers spoke numerous times. The Question re future of boxing was largely ignored, the boxing business was discussed but boxing only survives if the grass roots is thriving and no one came up with ideas to get the schools back on board apart from get the aba to visit them....really? is it that easy....duh, then we have which fights do you want to see, I think 2 were mentioned...again poor.

    I would like to see Ricky Burns take on Adrien Broner who looked sensational last weekend at Burns previous weight but he will move up probably in the next year and for me Burns would be ideal to help the ABA to get into the schools again as it is so dificult with the PC brigade aghast at children hitting each other that the parents must be shown what can be achieved and a decent, honest family man who holds down a job (albeit part time) without badmouthing or assaulting people can become a world champion, why cant their little ones.

  • Comment number 61.

    There might be more people boxing in Britain today than in the 1950s, but the longest recession on record and 20% youth unemployment might play a part in that.

    The dearth of boxing on terrestrial television has meant that despite having been a magazine-buying fan for the best part of two decades, I don't think that I have ever seen Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao box (I gave up my subscription to Sky Sports in about 2000).

    The proliferation of multiple weight classes and governing bodies started in the mid-1960s and was complete by the end of the 1980s. The main changes in the last twenty years have been a shift in the axis of heavyweight boxing from the US to eastern Europe; the disappearance of big Don King-promoted bills; and the decline in interest in British title fights (or perhaps it's just me).

    The events of Munich might be described as 'another black eye for boxing', but I remember Bert Randolph Sugar saying that 'boxing ran out of black eyes in about 1906'. It has also been stated that the best things about boxing are the fights and the fighters themselves - there's little else of any merit. One thing that maintains a fight fan's enduring interest is the possibility that the next Amir Khan or Andre Ward might be just around the corner...

  • Comment number 62.

    I was born next door to York Hall my memories go back to Arthur Danahar and Eric Boon. The sport has been ruined by proliferation of governing bodies, weight divisions and meaningless titles. Made worse by cynical fix decisions here in Germany. The BBBC should ban UK boxers from german rings as Henry Coopers manager did with him.

  • Comment number 63.

    Boxing desperately needs to copy the MMA/UFC model. While the UFC is an organisation it has essentially become synonymous with the sport. I simply do not see boxing taking the steps it needs to maintain its popularity.

  • Comment number 64.

    BENDIRS - "you said the fact so few fighters were entered into the schools champs is because most of the boxing in schools is non-contact. So, no, the claim within the blog isn't nonsense".

    Sorry Ben but you're missing the point and your statement confirms that the majority of attendees at the meeting are having problems seeing the wood for the trees! Your blog is misleading - you can't support a claim that there has been an increase in boxing compared with the 50's and then, when presented with the actual facts, try and justify why there hasn't actually been an increase in the schools sector. The fact of the matter is that there hardly any boxing taking place in schools - full stop. Has anyone actually tried to substantiate the ABAE's claims of boxing taking place in over 2,000 schools? Doesn't sound like it.
    I think it's disgraceful that the BBC can allow lisleading claims to be aired without actually having done any research to substatiate the same.

    BENDIRS said: "Also, while Bunce's claim there are more people boxing today than in the 50s sounds contentious, I can well believe it - although it does depend on how you define 'boxing'."
    The definition of boxing is a simple one - what it is not is actively participating in 30 minutes of boxing related activity once per week. That is the govt definition of "boxing".

    BENDIRS siad: "You're right to say that boxing 'exercise' isn't the same as 'real' boxing and that this needs to be addressed. But as far as I am aware, it wasn't the boxing authorities who nixed contact boxing in schools, but the government and Sport England".

    Wrong again Ben: If you did a bit more digging you would discover that it was actually the ABAE in cahoots with Sport England who have agreed the strategy for schools boxing going forward. Despite the membership demanding otherwise, the ABA have capitulated and prostituted the sport in exchange for having a better chance of meeting Govt stats and targets and continue to receive the obscene funding stream, most of which goes to elite boxing and not grass roots.
    This sport is dying and will not be an olympic sport within 10 years!

  • Comment number 65.

    I love Boxing, but the terrestrial tv agrument really irks me. Boxing turned it's back on terrestial tv, and by extention most of its audience 15 years ago chasing the goose that lays the golden egg. Now time are hard and they can no longer sell fights, they want terrestrial tv back?? I can well understand BBC telling boxing where to go, and boxing only has itself to blame.

  • Comment number 66.

    Chisora and Hayes are both mediocre boxers.

    Haye's appearance at the press conference was designed to incite a response from Chisora so he could goad him into his next match.

    It was a pure gimmick designed to get him some money. It's so transparent it is laughable.

    Haye is a joke..Chisora not much better.

  • Comment number 67.

    54. At 16:37 2nd Mar 2012, aka_bluepeter wrote:
    It's utter nonsense to suggest the meaningless Chisora Haye brawl did anything bad for boxing as a global sport. Even the barbaric Tyson biting an ear off didn't cause much of a ripple.

    #54, I couldn't agree more. People seem to be forgetting that the "sport" of professional boxing, particularly at heavyweight, is basically two blokes getting paid to try and beat the c**p out of each other.

    No matter how many Ali wise cracks you show, or how much footage of Frank Bruno joking with Wogan you show, boxing is legalised GBH. To suddenly jump for the moral high ground when the violence spills out of the ring makes no sense at all.

    The real disgrace is that the likes of Chisora and Harrison got world title fights in the first place.

  • Comment number 68.

    Lots of people saying that the "brawl that disgraced boxing" has let in MMA, but if I wanted to watch 2 guys rolling around whacking each other in an undisciplined frenzy I think I'd prefer the Haye:Chisora presscon to any MMA bout ever televised.
    MMA isn't a sport, any more than darts is. They're ways of letting rednex have champions at something other than beer-drinking & incest.

  • Comment number 69.

    Also don't agree that boxing's decline is due to a terrible lack of quality fights;
    "Three months before Minter-Hagler was the first fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Robert Duran; two months later was Leonard-Duran II. Boxing was booming, slap-bang in mainstream. It could afford to make mistakes."
    OK, we haven't got anything as good as that, but in the FIRST HALF of 2012 we have:
    Mayweather v Cotto
    Pacquaio v Bradley
    Gamboa v Rios
    Khan v Peterson II &
    Froch v Bute
    Those are all really good fights & Gamboa v Rios is shaping up to be one to remember. Sadly, I suspect the BBC will show no interest in the 1st 3 at all because there is no British fighter present. They will, however, gladly accede to Frank Warren's advice to televise one of his men demolish a guy who has come here to lose.

  • Comment number 70.

    Boxing is the ultimate purest sport, ur mans fists against another mans fists, no equipment. There is a reason it has survived for so long, and there is a reason it is the 4th most watched sport behind Football, cricket and Rugby.

    Until MMA has done 100 years, it can be spoken in the same breath as boxing, its like comparing tennis to squash.

    Nothing can beat the hype of a big fight, the Vlad Haye fight hype was huge, that electricity before the fight is rarely matched in any sport. That is because only in boxing does ur whole career come down to one moment,one night,no other sport has that and is why me and many others will love it for many years to come.

    If Murray loses, he can play in 3 more tourneys a year to redeem himself. If Beckham flops he can try again next year. If an Olympian fails they can try again 4 years later.

    Only in boxing does ur whole career come down to one night, look at David Haye, he was thought of as one of Britains greatest sportsmen and over night he became a national disgrace and failure. Nothing beats the pressure and excitement and consequences of a major fight.

    Not many sports can match that, and is why boxing will survive.

  • Comment number 71.

    i love to watch the boxing anything from the raw grass roots amateur to the topline polished pro boxers its a a great sport.
    however as a fan you want to see the best match ups every once in a while Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao why the hell has this not happened it should have been fought years ago it leaves a sour taste in your mouth
    back in the day fighters at the top of the pile faced one another to prove who is the top dog and it took next to no time to set a firm date

  • Comment number 72.

    #70 David Haye as one of Britain's greatest sportsman - I don't think so.

    The reason his fall from grace was so sudden is the manor of his defeat, not the fact that he lost. To go the whole fight barely throwing a punch, then to rush out with excuses afterwards. When Bruno was being knocked out by every decent opponent he faced, nobody cared because he was making a fight of it, and because he was gracious in defeat.

    As for only getting one chance, Bruno won the world title at his 4th attempt, and in no other sport does the champion get to chose who he plays against. Imagine if Djokovic as wold number 1 turned up at wimbledon and announced that he didn't want to play Nadal, Federer and Murray, and instead got the LTA to line up a series of third rate players for him to play against.

    I have nothing against boxing, it is all the sanctimonious rubbish that goes with it which is annoying - there is nothing noble about it, and it is certainly not an art. Yes boxers show huge courage and bravery, but it is ultimately just about the violence - certainly all the great heavyweight bouts were notable for their brutality.

  • Comment number 73.

    David Haye is a disgrace. He got off far to lightly in the Chisora "bottling" incident. He made a fool of himself and his fans with his "i hurt my toe" story against Wladimir. He fought a has been in John Ruiz, won a very close fight against "sloth" Valuev and of course the joke fight against Audley. A great british sportsman this man is not. Joe Calzaghe was the only class act in the past 20years

  • Comment number 74.

    "Joe Calzaghe was the only class act in the past 20years"

    Yes, I really admired the way he travelled the world seeking out the best men at his weight.

    Oh sorry, that was Froch.

  • Comment number 75.

    Calzaghe would have destroyed Froch and you know it.

  • Comment number 76.

    Two boxers have a fight and somehow it's a disgrace and a scandal. You lot don't really do irony, do you?

  • Comment number 77.

    I've noticed a big increase in boxers attending the MMA based training sessions at my gym (e.g. Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling and MMA) and in some cases dropping boxing altogether. While it's an MMA gym and this is probably to be expected, if this is a universal trend then boxing is losing it's grass roots competitors.

    It seems boxing just can't put on the fights fans want, when they want them. I'm only a casual fan and don't know the ins and outs, but Mayweather vs. Pacquiao seems to be a never ending saga. Even Haye vs. Klitschko seemed to take forever and a day to actually happen, although some of that was down to injuries.

  • Comment number 78.


    neither you nor I, nor anyone, know what might've happened had Calzaghe fought Froch.

    What we absolutely know is that Calzaghe ducked opportunities to meet the best in the world & Froch took them. You can't, seriously, argue with that. Its beyond argument.


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