Ricky Burns

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IN the last few years, Matchroom particularly have had to fend off criticism – from pundits and fans alike – that they negotiate home advantage for their fighters in world title contests less often than rival promoter Frank Warren. But how much of this castigation is due to misconception rather than reality? I endeavored to find out.

I documented all WBC, WBA Super, WBA World, IBF and WBO title fights (no Interim belts) involving a British boxer versus a non-British opponent in the last five years (September 1 2010-August 31 2015) to ascertain if the common consensus matches the actual facts.

The most glaring result is that home ‘advantage’ is thus called for a very good reason. Of the 65 world title bouts under consideration, 34 fights afforded home court to the British boxer, 31 saw them forced to travel. Of the 31 globetrotters, only nine (29 per cent) emerged victorious, while one drew and 21 were defeated. Of the 34 homebodies, 26 (76 per cent) were triumphant, three drew and just five lost.

Comparing Britain’s two most powerful promoters, Warren’s reputation for delivering home advantage proves well-earned but Matchroom are not as far behind as many think. Of Matchroom’s 30 world title fights under consideration, 12 have been away (five wins – 42 per cent), with 18 (60 per cent) at home (13 wins – 72 per cent); that’s comfortably over half of all title fights involving their men against foreign opposition that have taken place here in the UK.  Of Warren’s charges’ 15 fights, four have been on foreign soil away (just one win), but an admirable 11 (73 per cent) have come on these shores and nine of those (82 per cent) resulted in home wins. Given that Matchroom fighters were involved in twice the number of title fights during this period, their lower home percentage is perhaps to be expected. And who was Warren’s one winner abroad? None other than Nathan Cleverly who halted Shawn Hawk in an already forgotten fight in Los Angeles back in 2012.

If we disregard vacant world title contests and unification showdowns, the bouts involving Matchroom fighters saw 15 (58 per cent) enter as champions and 11 as challengers. It is, for obvious reasons, easier to obtain home advantage for a champion than a challenger. Warren’s stable during this period, buoyed by the presence of long-term rulers like Ricky Burns at the outset, entered as reigning titlists 64 per cent of the time.

It pays to be a champion. Of 24 challengers, 16 (67 per cent) had to travel, just eight did not. Excluding vacant title fights, Darren Barker, who beat Daniel Geale on an unforgettable Atlantic City night in 2013, and Kell Brook – who edged Shawn Porter in Carson last year – are the only ‘away’ challengers to triumph in this period. Meanwhile, half of the ‘home’ challengers won. Of 29 champions, only eight (26 per cent) had to travel although five of those won. Of the 21 champions defending at home, 17 (a whopping 81 per cent) won and only two lost, both to pound-for-pound contenders. Who were they? That man Cleverly again, who fell to the fearsome Sergey Kovalev, and Burns, who was outscored by the gifted Terence Crawford.