RingSide Report

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All For, Nobody Against?

By Donald “Braveheart” Stewart

An opinion piece from the only Donald worth listening to…

Full Stop In British English grammar a full stop is a lengthy pause, in the US, you call it a period. In the UK that tends to suggest feminine products. Here it means a period of time where I look at something in boxing in a little more depth. I am typing from my perspective of a fan who watches the sport closely. It’s an opinion. It is my opinion. Don’t like it? There are other opinions out there but if you don’t like it then good, debate and democracy are a good thing. If you do like it, feel free to spread the word.

All for, nobody against?

The Three Musketeers had a saying – all for one and one for all. It represented unity and dedication to each other. Alexandre Dumas gave us his legacy and gave us a saying for the ages. I am much reminded of him, as I review the staging of the 5 x 5, Queensberry v Matchroom undercard, which has been announced as part of the undisputed light heavyweight title fight Artur Beterbiev v Dmitry Bivol in Riyadh.

The irony of two Russian fighters in a ring, in Saudi Arabia, with the two biggest promoters in British boxing who until recently had not even talked to each other, is not lost on me. Russia, a sporting pariah has two world class pugilists heading a cash rich event, in a country which has a dreadful human rights record, whilst boxing is celebrating the rapprochement of two guys – Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn – who spent so long click bating each other, through their support of the rise of YouTube media operators that each handshake between them has become headline news.

You could not make this up.

Who would want to?

Now this 5 x 5 idea is a simple one. On the undercard of the Beterbiev/Bivol contest, 5 of the best Queensberry fighters will take on 5 of the best Matchroom fighters. A wee while ago Hearn chose two weight divisions and Warren chose another two weight divisions with the fifth being chosen by the guy behind it all Turki Alalshikh. There are points for a win, captains who are able to get double points and there are extra points for knock downs. At the end we get a winner with the likelihood we shall do it all again.


It’s great box office AND the fights look tasty.

So, if you tune in, you will get a heavyweight fight between Queensberry’s Zhilei Zhang against Matchroom’s one night only captain, Deontay Wilder. Now, this is box office on its own. Both are coming off losses to Joseph Parker. The winner gets back in the title mix, whilst the loser is left at the end stages of their career but will be rich …

There is another heavyweight fight which could end up being for the IBF title. Queensberry’s Daniel Dubois against Matchroom’s Filip Hrgovic. Now, the IBF title shall be part of the fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk. However, the IBF have ordered the winner of that fight to face Hrgovic, their mandatory next. There is a rematch clause between Usyk and Fury, and the IBF will strip their champion if Hrgovic is not faced, and the rematch happens. Fury hates the IBF anyway. They stripped him the day after he beat Wladimir Klitschko, so the IBF belt looks very likely to be on the table for Dubois/Hrgovic. The story of the fight is helped by some bizarre sparring story – Hrgovic knocked Dubois out in sparring. Apparently, it was so vicious that it led to Dubois postponing the fight for which the sparring was supposed to be helping him…

Next, at middleweight Queensberry captain Hamzah Sheeraz, an unbeaten Brit takes on unbeaten America’s Ausitn “Amo” Williams. Somebody’s 0… the winner will get a world title shot as both are well placed in sanctioning body lists.

World honors are definitely on the line at featherweight with Matchroom’s Ray Ford putting his WBA title up for Queensberry’s Nick Ball to try and take. Ball drew with Ray Vargas for the WBC title in a fight he won. Unfortunately, the judges, in Saudi, let the heat get to them and delivered a draw. This time round he is nothing short of determined.

Finally, Matchroom’s Craig “Spider” Richards takes on Queensberry’s Willy Hutchinson at light heavyweight. With the unified light heavyweight championship on the line in the main event, this might just catch fire. Hutchinson, the only Scot on the bill, was destined for great things until he lost to Lennox Clarke. Since then, he has moved up in weight to face Richards who has already fought one half of the main event – Dmitry Bivol, where he put in a very creditable performance but lost on points. This could be the most intriguing of the fights as it is very much the lesser of all of the rest.

And so, everyone loves it? Right?


There are still those of us who think the issue of the company you keep, irrespective of how much advantage you gain from it, is an issue.

There is also legendary women’s fighter and champion of the cause of female boxing Jane Couch. She tweeted her disappointment that there were no female fighters on the card.

And she is right – they’re not.

Adding that level of irony, of having a contest between women in a country which has an arcane view of women, to the irony already in play of a pariah state providing the headliners is not likely to iron out the creases of these fights. The leap forward to the burgeoning relationship between Matchroom and Queensberry is likely to drown out any dissent. Talk has started of doing it again in the UK. Whilst most of us will feel comfortable with that – more so than the 5 x 5 in the desert, there are still massive moral questions hanging over the whole thing. But for the moment almost all think and agree, this is a beautiful thing, and the rest of us should just enjoy the ride.

I do think, however, there is a day of reckoning to come.

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