Tuesday, February 21, 2012

British Boxing on the Ropes

Dereck Chisora and David Haye are at the centre of a scandal that has jeopardised the future of British heavyweight boxing.

Chisora and Haye square up
Chisora clashed with Haye at the post-fight press conference following his bout with WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko.

Former WBA heavyweight champion, Haye, appeared to have turned up uninvited to address Klitschko’s manager Bernd Boente who previously attempted to have Haye ejected from his ringside seat during the fight.

Haye claims Boente agreed the terms of a fight with Vitali Klitschko in December, but has since expressed his desire to re-negotiate financial terms.

In a bizarre turn of events, Chisora then entered a war of words before going to confront Haye in the auditorium, where the brawl ensued.

Chisora slaps Klitschko during weigh-in
While Klitschko looked on with pleasure, the two British fighters totally embarrassed themselves, proving that adding to a lack of talent, neither is fit to be champion.

Chisora and Haye will now await the outcome of police investigations which could see the pair charged with malicious injury and making a threat and grievous bodily harm, offences that potentially carry five and ten year sentences respectively.

This was not the first time Chisora has been in the limelight over issues surrounding his fight with Klitschko.

At the weigh-in, Chisora slapped the defending champion in an unprovoked attack. The challenger then spat water into the face of brother Wladimir Klitschko in the ring before the bout began and continued his verbal assault after the fight, refusing to accept defeat gracefully.

Chisora spits in the face of Wladimir Klitschko
The combined effect of such behaviour has left many disgusted with Chisora and Haye’s actions, questioning how British boxing can move forward from these tasteless incidents that have brought the sport into disrepute.

There is no doubt these men acted without the maturity or respect that grown men are obliged to display in public and one could never condone their actions.

However, this act of raw passion, something that has been non-existent in the modern generation of heavyweight boxing, gave fans a taste of what the sweet science was once all about.

In a sport that has been as good as dead for a decade, a controversy such as this could be just what the heavyweight division needs to reignite the flame that has barely flickered for so long.

Booth on the receiving end
In the 1990’s alone we were blessed with so many memorable, natural heavyweight champions in Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, George Foreman, Riddick Bowe and Oliver McCall.

During this era, heavyweight boxing consisted of two brutal beasts donning a pair of leather mitts and going toe-to-toe until only one was left standing.

In 2002, a brawl involving Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis erupted at a press conference inside New York’s Hudson Theater during a promotional event for Lewis’ penultimate championship fight.

At this conference, Tyson attacked Lewis with a ferocity that makes Chisora and Haye’s scuffle appear like a lovers tiff. In Germany, Haye’s trainer Adam Booth came off worst, picking up a cut to the head.

Tyson and Lewis brawl
In the New York melee, Tyson bit a chunk out of Lewis’ leg before unleashing a foul-mouthed, homophobic, racist monologue, threatening to rape and kill a particular member of the press. The WBC president Jose Sulaiman was even knocked unconscious after hitting his head on a table and was treated for concussion at hospital.

Sulaiman exclaimed “It would be discriminatory to single out Mike Tyson because many other boxers have behaved similarly at other press conferences.”

Tyson went unpunished because this was considered part and parcel of the boxing industry. These are the actions that wow spectators and so much of boxing’s popularity is owed to what happens outside the ring.

This has been true ever since the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali, used verbal assaults to intimidate his opponents.

The greatest trash-talker
He suggested, “Frazier is so ugly that he should donate his face to the US Bureau of Wild Life.” Ali also promised “I’ll beat him so bad he’ll need a shoehorn to put his hat on,” when quizzed on his proposed bout with Floyd Patterson.

As with many sports in the modern age, boxing is primarily a business and all businesses rely on effective marketing for success. Boxing has had little in the way of unique selling points over the last ten years and this may just be the unexpected breakthrough disillusioned consumers had hoped for.

Dereck Chisora and David Haye offer little in the way of reasons to support their actions inside or outside of the ring and will have done their already controversial public personas no favours.

However, their sacrifice of personal popularity, intentional or not, appears to have created a newfound buzz in the boxing industry, providing a global interest, not previously generated by events inside the ring.

Klitschko shows why he is champion
Not many would admit to a soft spot for convicted rapist and drug user Mike Tyson, but an even smaller percentage could argue against his legendary status in the world of boxing and the unbridled entertainment value he brought to the sport.

Men who attempt to brutally disfigure others for pleasure cannot possibly be considered as potential role models.

We must refrain from viewing them in such light and hope their barbaric acts serve merely to spark life into a sport, which is well and truly on the ropes.

Written by Dom Wallace


  1. Been following this story pretty closely this week, some very interesting discussion points in here mate.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. It would seem that what I recall as the golden era of heavyweight boxing is a distant memory. Let us not forget that after the height of Muhammad Ali's career (mid 60's - mid 70's) we were forced to wait two decades before another explosion, so maybe this is just the calm before the storm. Let's hope so...

  4. After reading this article, you have convinced me that there is still a pulse in Heavyweight boxing. Let's hope the powers that be don't suffocate this opportunity!!

  5. Chisora has been handed a tough decision and despite Haye's claims that Vitali Klitschko has agreed to a fight, I'm not sure now if he will get his licence back. Just when it looked like we were going to have some passion injected into this division... such a shame.


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