EVERY single promising boxer to emerge from Scotland in recent decades has faced the daunting prospect of being compared to, and having to fill, former lightweight world champion Ken Buchanan’s sizeable boots, and promoter Barry McGuigan has heaped a bit of extra pressure on Josh Taylor by declaring that his man may travel to America to challenge WBC light-welterweight holder Jose Ramirez in the not too distant future.
Buchanan headlined at the legendary Madison Square Garden three times in his 1970s heyday and twice featured on Muhammad Ali undercards en route to becoming that boxing rarity, a fighter from the United Kingdom who was not only accepted but also lauded in the US.
A trip to the States to meet Ramirez would certainly be a statement of further intent from the Edinburgh-based contender, who has been matched to perfection thus far, and the American audience tend to be more receptive to UK fighters if they take the plunge and box over there.
McGuigan has told anyone that will listen that he believes his man is the best 140lber in the world, and this particular promoter has backed up his claims by handing the southpaw a series of tough assignments culminating in Saturday’s points win over former WBC holder Viktor Postol at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro Arena, his third defence of the WBC’s Silver title.
In the meantime, fans, pundits, and even McGuigan himself, are still puzzling over the scores of 117-110, 118-110, and 119-108, handed in by Fernando Barbosa, Victor Loughlin, and Eddie Pappoe respectively after a hard fought encounter that, for many, looked to be a close but clear win by a couple of points either way. One fan, @HumeanBoxing, took to Twitter and told the WBC’s Mauricio Sulaiman that: ‘Your judges did not do you proud in Glasgow tonight’.
To be fair to Sulaiman, he replied that he had yet to see the fight and was interested in ‘hearing your opinion about the scoring’. This prompted scores of responses, @BoxingFanatic_ quite reasonably pointed out that the cards were: ‘An utter disgrace. You’d be better spending your time investigating the judges than fining Murray [for pushing Roberto Garcia after they both weighed in for their WBC Silver Super middleweight title fight on Friday]. These scorecards are putting boxing in the gutter’.
There were no further responses from Sulaiman and, as is the way with boxing, the sport moved on almost immediately. Postol could complain, as per Article V of the WBC’s rules yet he is on the way down, Taylor is on the way up and any appeal is likely to be time consuming and will fall on deaf ears — many more controversies will have taken place by the time any letter or email founds its way to the WBC. Win, lose, or draw, the sport is in a state of constant flux and will leave the past his prime Postol behind.
Poor scorecards have long been a bane, but in recent times there has been a perception that things have become especially bad in the United Kingdom, with many fans comparing decisions on these shores with the suspect tallies that used to pop up in Germany during the reign of Sven Ottke.
In mitigation, Hughie Fury’s team will point out that they felt harshly done by when visiting fighter Joseph Parker beat him by decision last year in a WBO heavyweight title defence. Facts and stats be damned, though — and this is especially the case with boxing. Most news outlets are today reporting that the fight was badly scored and, in the modern age, it is all about perspective and emotional responses, and too many responses to the fight have been negative in light of the cards.
This is a shame for Taylor, who fought his way back into the contest after what appeared to be a bad start, as well as his team, who have guided him expertly, and especially for the officials, now tarred by claims of incompetence or, worse, corruption. It is no wonder the likes of Deontay Wilder have to think long and hard about fighting in the UK.
However, Loughlin is one of our best judges and referees, and definitely not one to score a fight blindly in favour of the home corner. Indeed, he once bucked the ringside trend by turning in a scorecard of 113-114 in favour of Uganda-based visitor Abdul Tebazalwa at the Tara Leusure Centre in Shaw despite everyone in the venue handing it to the defending WBF featherweight titlist Choi Tseveenpurev by a wide margin — judges Paul Thomas and Phil Edwards had it 119-110 and 118-110 for the then Oldham-based Mongolian.
In mitigation, Loughlin argued that from his vantage point — and without recourse to camera angles, commentary and replays — he favoured the way the visitor worked behind his jab. By doing this, Loughlin demystified his card, it is high time for the WBC, the BBBoC and other authorities to allow refs and judges to explain their cards to the paying public.
It might not right perceived wrongs, but if you can see their thinking, understand the logic, and have a right to reply it might dispel the growing nefarious notion that fixes are worked out in advance in Vape mist filled rooms. It will never happen, it is far too logical an approach for boxing, but we can but hope.
Martin Murray put in a workmanlike win over Garcia at London’s O2 yet he was still blasted by Billy Joe Saunders, who has twiced pulled out of fights against the four-time world title challenger.
Saunders took to Twitter to call Murray a ‘bum’ after the victory and said that the 35-year-old would struggle against his young son, Steve. If anything, it is Murray who should feel aggrieved and all the ill-advised tweet did was underline the fact that Saunders’ withdrawals did not go down well with boxing fans, especially after Gennady Golovkin’s team alleged that they had been working on a deal with Saunders on the off chance that a rematch with Saul Alvarez did not get made in time.
Kieran Farrell did not have it easy as a fighter and this is proving to be the case in his career as a promoter after his show at the Middleton Arena on Friday night was cut short due to a stabbing outside the venue at around 10pm.
The attack was not related to what was going on inside according to Farrell, who retired in 2012 after suffering a brain bleed in his vacant English lightweight title loss to Anthony Crolla. Still, the former fighter turned promoter was forced to scratch the last two fights on the six fight bill and the battle between Lee Clayton and Ricky Leach was abandoned and declared a No Contest, leaving approximately 500 fans disappointed.
A man was allegedly chased by two other men before being stabbed in the back and rushed to hospital. Farrell told Charlotte Cox of the Manchester Evening news that: “The lad was taken to hospital. My first thought was with him and I hope he’s okay. I’m gutted that they did this outside the boxing show. I’ve been questioning whether I should carry on”.
Hopefully Farrell does carry on. Small hall boxing is a staple of the sport and the shows are so expensive to put on that it is a case of hoping that you don’t lose too much money rather than expecting a profit margin.
The likes of Scott Quigg and Terry Flanagan came through the ranks on these types of shows and they are a stark reminder that not every fledgling pro has a massive promotional, management, and media machine behind them. At the lower levels it is all about hard work, dedication and dealing with disappointment.