Boxing, Uncategorized

Boxing remains its own worst enemy

And so, we’ve made it to the end of the year. A year where boxing shamed itself by letting that thug, Mayweather dominate, while the man who has the potential to introduce those hair on the back of your neck moments to a new generation of sports fans, Gennady Golovkin -GGG- has been forced to endure the bullshit politicking of Golden Boy Promotions, amongst others.

Of course, it’s also been a year where Tyson Fury pissed of many a person while deposing the classy, though boring-as-hell Wladimir Klitschko. Meanwhile Andy Lee, our favourite Irish sportsperson, rather devastatingly dropped his WBO middleweight title, somewhat controversially, on his first defence to the talented Billy Joe Saunders. If Lee does not get a rematch, then boxing is no more credible than WWE. This article from Boxing News will explain the current nonsensical nature of boxing for you perfectly. It is almost unconscionable, in a sport built on almost reckless courage, that men are sidestepping Golovkin. All this, while the man who actually wants to fight him has been treated awfully.

Andy

Andy Lee is the only middleweight willing to go toe-to-toe with Gennady Golovkin. (Picture courtesy of RingTV)

The Marvin Hagler Tommy Hearns classic of 1985 was celebrated earlier this year but if you’ve never seen ‘The War’ and you want to see why the 80s were truly the heyday of boxing, then please indulge us. That fight, and the era of the Four King – Hagler, Hearns, Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard –  perfectly encapsulate the raw combination of savagery and beauty that only boxing can offer.

The phenomenal success of Conor McGregor this year should finally force boxing into accepting that UFC is not only a threat but also a genuine alternative for fans who are sick of watching overblown build ups to non-events. The 36 minutes of shit between two over-the-hill fighters in Pacquaio and Mayweather was an affront to the regular sagas of days gone by. We’re not champions of UFC and we’ll take boxing every day of the week but to Dana White’s credit he would have made Mayweather Pacquiao happen years ago.

Sorry to harp on about this but we can’t stress enough just how debilitating to boxing the treatment of GGG has been. This man is an incredibly gifted puncher -he was the highest knockout percentage in middleweight boxing history – learning his trade on the streets of the Kazakh, port town of Karaganda. Golovkin is almost an adopted son of Mexican fight fans, who have always loved the fact that their fighters come ready to bang, not to play some depressingly frustrating game of chess.

His critics, and to be fair there are very few at this stage, say that better opponents will take advantage of Golovkin’s overly aggressive style -despite the fact he’s never been knocked –  but sadly Oscar De La Hoya won’t let us see if Canelo Alvarez can actually pose these problems. More frustratingly, Billy Joe Saunders, for all his talk won’t go toe-to-toe with Golovkin either.

Andy Lee is a boxer in the truest sense of the word. He has thread a path which may not have lead him to the financial rewards he deserves but he is the only man in world boxing who actively sought a contest with GGG this year. Hand on heart, we think the Kazakh would stop Lee but, it would proffer a rare glimpse into why the middleweight division was not only the most watched boxing division in the 80s but arguably the most popular of all sports.

If Frank Warren, the wily mainstay of boxing promotion, can’t facilitate the Lee-Saunders rematch in either the Point or Thomond Park, then boxing should hang its head in shame. Like Gotham City or electronic music in its current form, boxing has been denigrated and lost its true identity.

GGG

GGG: the man who could capture the public’s attention. (Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report)

Men like Andy Lee, up and coming British heavyweight, Anthony Joshua and the criminally underrated -to non-fight fans- Gennady Golovkin are what boxing is all about. Like the sadly departed Arturo Gatti and the abovementioned Four Kings these men just want to fight and put on a show for the fans. We’re not saying all boxers should be prizefighters, for in contrast there is beauty. And, indeed, Leonard’s career probably germinated the frustratingly brilliant tactics of Floyd Mayweather.

However, if Warren, De La Hoya, Eddie Hearns and the self-serving sycophants of boxing’s four -yes four! – main regulatory bodies want boxing to stay relevant to the wider sporting public, they need to step their game up in 2016 and give the people what they want.

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Uncategorized

Why no fuss over Andy Lee?

Credit where credit is due, Conor McGregor cleaned out the reigning pound for pound, number one ranked UFC fighter, Jose Aldo. And, that was that.

However, for those who think boxing turgid or boring – because you’re prohibited from kicking and punching a prone person on the ground – watch this, please!

We’re putting our complete bias out there today. Tonight, what we can only describe as our favourite sportsperson in the whole of Ireland, Andy Lee, (given that Henry has retired) is taking on Billy-Joe Saunders, in what could well be the best sporting occasion of 2015.

This fight tonight, whether or not you give a shit, is a monumental duel, the first time two members of the Travelling Community have fought in a sanctioned world-title fight. Andy Lee, the resilient, southpaw fight-stopper goes against an extremely composed, technically gifted opponent in Billy-Joe Saunders. And, the beauty is, the man out of Limerick is a quietly spoken, gentleman with a right hook that can stop time. If Lee was an outspoken asshole – which, of course, we’re not suggesting any other Irish combatant is – this whole country would be on standby tonight, anticipating what is potentially the biggest fight for Irish boxing since the Collins-Eubank wars.

It’s bemusing for us that a lot of people in this country are completely non-plussed about tonight’s fight. Straight Up Sport and a very esteemed friend of ours were all set to go to Thomond in September when an injury – or something –  waylaid what could have been greatest Irish sports night in 2015, bar Shane Long’s missile into the top left corner.

Tonight’s fight, shamefully underpromoted – and we mean by mass media, not the actual promoters – has the potential to be the fight of the year. And, one has to consider, in all honesty, whether there is a smell of racism to it all. We’ve spent an inordinate amount of time listening to people complain that Tyson Fury isn’t Boy Scout material. Boxers aren’t usually the reference point for humanitarianism and yet when someone like Fury or Saunders – both members of the Travelling Community – are outspoken, the ire escalates. Just, think about it.

When Bernard Dunne beat Ricardo Cordoba in 2009 we almost exploded, even accepting that it was also the day that Stephen Jones kick dropped short. Why then, no opprobrium in the build up to this fight? Irish boxing world champions aren’t ten-a-penny. And, Andy Lee is the type of person who the whole country should get behind. Yet, there seems to be no interest.

Saunders has already said that in the close-knit Travelling community, all that people will remember is the winner and the loser. There will be no in between. This is amazing, simple drama. Yet, how is this not creating more excitement in Irish sport?

With self-righteousness at all-time high, one would think this fight would be excessively promoted, not by people who care about sport but by annoying social-media crusaders. Yet, even for the perceived liberal-minded among us, a lot of our inherent prejudices remain.

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Boxing, Uncategorized

Send your Fury elsewhere

RTE nailed it. Back in 1985, the national broadcaster devised an annual sports award, the RTE Sports Person of the Year Award to recognise the achievements of Ireland’s greatest sports person in any given year. In a moment of inspiration, somebody in the creative department decided to forego the moniker of Sports Personality of the Year.

If only the BBC had done the same. Then, perhaps they would have avoided the shit storm surrounding the nomination of the societal pillar, Tyson Fury, for 2015 Sports Personality of the Year.

Now, to be clear, Fury’s comments to the Mail on Sunday in November – wherein he bizarrely and misguidedly bracketed homosexuality and paedophilia together –  were incredibly insulting and derogatory. He coupled these views with his pointedly misogynistic views about heptathlete Jessica Ennis, and, all women.

However, the problem here is that the SPOTY awards are intended to recognise the sporting achievements of any British man or woman in a given calendar year. The awards do not specify in their selection criteria, award-winning humanitarian or crusader for social justice.

Take the time to look through past winners and you’ll see some extremely talented sports people with highly questionable characters.  Not naming names here but you have a philanderer here, a misogynist there and maybe a drug cheat in the middle, just for good measure.

There is clearly excessive focus on the ‘Personality’ aspect of the award. Even on a practical level, how could you give such an award to Andy Murray.  Obviously, the Scotsman is a phenomenal tennis player but he’s not exactly a guy who’d light the room up when he walks in. This award, despite its title, is intended to honour the greatest British sporting success of the past year. Not their personality.

Occasionally the winner happens to be very personable and charming, like Jessica-Ennis Hill or David Beckham. Or, it’s been the archetypal larger-than-life character, like Sir Ian Botham or Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff. Or sometimes, just to ratchet up the ire, the winner can even be Irish, like Barry McGuigan.

There have been some winners of the award who’ve managed to marry their incredible sporting success with their amazing personalities. However, in the truest sense of the word ‘personality’ is largely superfluous in the context of the award. For god’s sake, Nick Faldo! And, a fucking super injunction for the most Teflon coated man in the world.

 

 

Nick

Nick Faldo, good guy.

 

Tyson Fury has rightly been censured for his homophobic remarks but to counter-balance the brouhaha, one should consider the context in which the comments were made. As anyone who watches sport and actually admires Tyson Fury’s sporting achievements will know, the Mancunian has a proud heritage. Both his parents were born in Ireland and his family is steeped in the traditions of the Travelling community.

Fury himself has said that his was a strict Catholic upbringing, which appears to have been based largely on the fire and brimstone of the Old Testament.  Now, as a caveat, please note that this is not nor will it ever be a forum for spouting religious views. If you have faith in a dancing snowman who rides around on a unicorn and this belief makes you a kinder, better person, then go for it. Similarly, Allah. Or God. Or Gautama Buddha.

But, in any event, this is what a young Tyson Fury was taught. He did try and explain his comments to a certain extent, saying “that’s what the Bible taught me.” However, it’s dangerous to invest too much faith in any one book or as with mass media, to believe everything you read.

Separately, Fury’s comments about Ennis-Hill were misogynistic but as Malachy Clerkin pointed out in an excellent article in this week’s Irish Times, sport is fraught with underlying misogyny. A lot of people are, by and large, full of sanctimonious, self-serving shit and will readily move from this week’s latest hot, social justice topic to the next. But, if women are largely ignored in sport, then as Mr Clerkin pointed out, a petition isn’t going to do much about it.

The gentleman from Manchester who reported Fury’s comments to the Manchester Metropolitan Police hit the nail on the head when he said that Fury is entitled to his comments, but, when they are vitriolic and ignorant, they should probably be kept himself. That, however, is a point to be made in relation to wider society in general.

Tyson Fury is a professional boxer, a profession where thoughtfulness and self-awareness are not exactly rife. He’s also a self-promoter who can’t keep his name out of the news.

To return to our original point, he recently became the eighth British Heavyweight World Champion of all time and that, in the singularity of sporting achievement, should be respected. He deposed one of the greatest and most achingly boring heavyweight champions of all time, Wladimir Klitschko. And, for the sentimentalists out there, remember that Muhammad Ali, as amazing a man as he is, made some reprehensible comments in his own time.

So, as some people remount their social media high-horse, remember that Tyson Fury is a professional boxer with misguided thoughts. And, when the ire recedes, remember that, in all likelihood, a racist asshole is about to win the Republican nomination for the American presidential race. Guide your anger where it actually matters.

 

 

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