Today’s main article is a guest blog from Chris Day, a boxing fan and occasional Sport Britain commenter. Here, he takes a look forward to early 2013 and the state of the sport he loves.
Boxing’s problems are numerous and widespread. Judging corruption and padded records litter the sport, causing people to become frustrated and switch off as the big names don’t fight each other. We have to make do with fights where sometimes even seasoned boxing fans have to Google fighters’ names to see who they are.
Whether I like it or not, boxing is coming back to the forefront of peoples minds again. Recently, we had an awful time with Ricky Hatton coming out of retirement only to get knocked out, David Haye being in a reality TV show and Andrew Flintoff slapping and pawing his way through six minutes of painfully poor boxing.
I should relish the casual fans’ money coming back into the coffers of boxing so that we may get more fights shown on TV and more fighters getting exposure to the wider world, but this won’t happen. What will happen is more people in the pubs watching big names and eventually getting bored again when they realise that, a lot of the time, at the top level you get skilled technicians trying to out box each other to 12 round decisions. It’s great for a boxing purist but, as my casual friends tell me, not exciting for everyone else watching people poke at one other for an hour.
We are lucky at the moment as we have a truly once-in-a-generation fighter in Carl “The Cobra” Froch. Since 2008, he has only shared the ring with fighters in the top ten of the world rankings up until his last fight – a mandatory destruction of Philadelphia’s Yusaff Mack who was taken out with a brutal body shot in round 3. A man that only 15 years ago would be a huge celebrity but is not that well known outside avid sports fans. This year I would like to invite the people who have been discouraged from watching boxing to tune in again on the 25th of May and watch him fight one of the only people to beat him in Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler.
The last fight was an out and out war which saw two of our generation’s come forward warriors put leather to face for 12 rounds. Boxing needs these fights to become more common as we see two people at the top of their trade fighting for nothing (other than millions of pounds) but the right to say they are the best.
Next weekend is the next installment of Matchroom Sport’s Prizefighter series, in which eight fighters compete for £32000 in a knockout format. As there are only three 3-minute rounds, you will see some good domestic fighters give everything they can for nine minutes, hoping to beat their man with the prospect of having their moment of glory and to become the Prizefighter champion. These kind of nights of boxing are what we need, not top fighters jabbing through 12-round snorefests. Men who do it for the love of the fight game and the chance to be a champion.
I leave this simply saying that boxing is on most weeks from late February onwards on Sky Sports and you would do well to have a few friends round and watch some fighters you don’t know put everything on the line to entertain you. Personally, I pick the one with the funniest nickname or the most colourful shorts and cheer for him.