RingSide Report

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Noise Turned Up…

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.

Noise Turned Up…

It’s a golden era, if you listen to some around boxing. We have crowned a new undefeated and unified world heavyweight champion – first in the four-belt era. First this century.
We should all be dancing in the streets in celebration.

I have written before that governing bodies have an unbelievable ability to find a shotgun in the cupboard, take off their boots and socks and take aim. When things are going good, they tend to find something bad to spoil the party atmosphere.

But boxing always likes to bring something rather unique to the party too. In fact, they have more than just the regulatory bodies throwing fireworks onto the bonfire. They have hangers on and boxers themselves.

Now, boxing is a noble art but a violent one. Many fighters are born out of abject trauma and the need to channel an aggression against the world against something else. Their role models are often absent, and their discipline often discovered at the end of someone else’s fists. It makes their lives challenging and it makes their careers tough.

We should not be surprised when that aggression starts to spill over, and previous ill-discipline becomes their way of dealing with pressure. We should not be surprised but we should be far from gleeful.

And so, at the end of the month when Tyson Fry stepped into the ring against Oleksandr Usyk, what was the biggest headline? Tyson Fury’s dad, at the age of 58 headbutted one of team Usyk, because the wee guy, and he was wee, just back from fighting in a war, was chanting Usyk’s name, in response to John Fury chanting his son’s.

Now, John has been such a character, and all sports need characters. Eddie Hearn called it out of character. David Haye, however, gave the best response I have heard when asked about it by IFL TV. He was told there had been mixed responses over the incident and he held a puzzled expression when questioning the idea that anyone would defend it. John Fury, after all, is a man with a criminal past. “He does not want to go back to prison,” quipped Haye.

Uncivilized conduct, even within this nonsense chanted about being Spartans and Warriors is oftentimes criminal conduct dressed up because of the sport. The sport could do with shedding a lot of the toxic masculinity.

But the pressure is real.

It can lead to outbursts like John Fury’s, but it can also lead to purposefully coming in overweight and then being caught with PEDs in your system. Ryan Garcia is the latest to have something in his system for a fight to hit the headlines. Connor Benn is two years in to fighting his case for having an adverse finding in a drugs test. Both of these have their differences but out in the real world, looking on, nobody can see them. They want to see resolution through cleanliness.

But boxing likes to cram into a month a hellacious amount of controversy.

We had a world title fight in Australia announced as being won by the visitor and then oh now wait a minute, no the home fighter who is the challenger won.

Then we got weights announced wrongly for the biggest title fight in the century…

To be fair to the former, the ring announcer who made the error has announced he is giving up the sport and the backlash he received because of his mistake has been ridiculous.

For once this is not about the belt wielding authorities nor about judging, two of the most confusing topics we have experienced in the sport over recent decades. It’s about the authorities, however, failing to act or failing to do so in a timely manner. Even the beginning of this piece which talked of the “four-belt era” is by its own definition daft. There should be one champion in one championship as there is throughout the rest of the sporting world. But not in boxing, oh no!

It is when things are good that bad things get washed over. But that is the key time to start and sort things out because there are opportunities without the stress of saving the sport which can make opportunity happen. It should be grabbed with both hands and used to the sport’s advantage. It probably won’t be. We shall probably be moaning about some judge’s scorecard or, there shall be someone somewhere complaining about a daylight robbery, or a boxer will be in court with people saying how misunderstood he is, or someone will be caught with something in their system there should not be – all of which is becoming normal for the sport.

Clarity over how these are dealt with by the sport of boxing is needed. And that is the real litmus test of a mature sport, and we are yet to see evidence that boxing is quite ready to embrace that challenge.

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