YOU can’t blame Bob Arum – or indeed anyone – for being a little concerned about bringing a boxer over to the UK at this present time.
Though a boxing hotbed in recent years, the UK is currently at the centre of a performance-enhancing drug test controversy which has had many questioning the wisdom of foreign fighters making the trip to face British opponents.
Arum, no stranger to fight game shenanigans, will be responsible for bringing the brilliant Vasyl Lomachenko to the UK later this month but will, he admits, be doing so with great trepidation in light of recent events. The Ukrainian fights Luke Campbell on August 31 at London’s O2 Arena and Arum, his promoter, feels the location of the fight offers a greater challenge than the opponent at this stage.
“Ordinarily I wouldn’t be concerned but ask me if I am and damn right I am because I don’t trust the British board,” Arum told the BBC.
“Commissions, whether it is in the US, or the British Boxing Board of Control – who in this area look totally inept – I think it would be a good thing to have an internationally recognised body taking over the testing problem.
“I was very upset with what I read with the (Dillian) Whyte situation. What made me upset was not the ultimate decision to let him fight but the fact that the opponent was never given any notice that Whyte had tested positive at least in his ‘A’ sample. That was absolutely wrong.
“You don’t do that to an opponent. Whoever handled this made a terrible, terrible mistake. This is a serious business – guys can get hurt. Give the fighter notice and let him also be in on the decision.
“Boxing needs a standard on drug testing. It has to be addressed right away, as early as next week. This is a serious, serious problem.”
Unfortunately, serious problems in a serious business like boxing tend to only be addressed if they cost people money. Serious damage, on the other hand, both in terms of fighter health and the sport’s reputation, is seemingly becoming more and more of a secondary issue.
For as long as it stays this way, it’s hard to imagine anything being rectified or cleaned up, especially when the only things costlier than proper drug-testing are failed drug tests. And who wants that debt?
One fighter who hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory this year is Jarrell Miller, the Brooklyn heavyweight whose big date against Anthony Joshua was scuppered when Miller failed more than one performance-enhancing drug test and was suspended for six months.
Set to return in October, Miller is now working to free himself from promotional ties to Dmitriy Salita, the New Yorker who has guided him since 2014, before launching the kind of comeback only a sport like boxing affords its villains.
“I think Dmitriy, he’s not for the fighter, he’s about himself with his money in his pockets. That’s not where I want to be,” Miller told The Ring.
“I love the sport of boxing so if I make a mistake in this game, I want to own up to it and fix where I went wrong, and that’s what I’m doing.
“I think I want to be with a promoter that’s not only about the fight, but ethically is just a good person.
“We’re just figuring out where I want to go now, what network, what promoter is the best fit for me. A lot of offers on the table, we’re going to figure it out.”
Somehow Jarrell Miller has managed to find some moral high ground and is claiming it with fingers in ears, yelling at the top of his voice at anyone who so much as attempts to talk him down from this undeserved pedestal. He knows as well as anyone that in time the abuse will stop. He knows, too, that by the end of the year he will be back in the ring, back making himself and others obscene amounts of money, and all will have been forgotten. He “loves” the sport, after all.