IT WAS terrific to see some quality boxing take place at York Hall on Friday night and unsurprising to hear promoter Frank Warren then take a swipe at this publication when invited to by IFL TV. He is a proud, passionate and hard-working man who has always strived to deliver quality.
Last week, in our preview, we gave the event two stars because, for a televised show, we felt it lacking in depth. In short, the left hand side of the bill had a cumulative total of one defeat and the right had 147. Yet it exceeded our expectations, largely because the underdogs were, for the most part, capable and ambitious.
We understand why Frank deemed the two stars as harsh. For over 40 years we have become accustomed to seeing Warren, one of the greatest of all promoters, produce predominantly good events. But considering the Bethnal Green setting perhaps we should have judged it purely for what it was – a televised small hall show – as opposed to a show from a Hall of Fame promoter who has hosted some of this country’s greatest nights. Because as a small hall show it was superior, even just on paper, to the vast majority that we currently get.
Though we only occasionally get the winners wrong in our previews, it’s not as easy to predict if the fights themselves will actually entertain, particularly when a 8-0 British prospect battles an unknown 3-35-1 visitor. But we’ve seen enough boxing in our 113-year history, and waded through enough reports, to know that is rarely the recipe for a Fight of the Year.
Some contests that we deem worthy of five stars – like last weekend’s third fight between Canelo Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin, for example – turn out to be two-star contests in reality. Hence why, for balance and fairness, we provide star ratings before and after events. It is right to point out, however, that an event with numerous 50/50 fights will always be viewed more favourably than a card stacked with prospects versus journeymen. Yet we understand why Frank was furious – a poor preview can affect ticket sales and TV audience numbers. That’s never the aim. We want every show to be appealing to as many people as possible, we take no pleasure from the opposite. That said, every single TV promoter in the UK has staged poor contests that simply should not be on TV in recent months; it is our job to highlight that.
“I think the trade magazine is disrespectful. Was that a two star show? Did all the fans think it was a two star show?” Warren said before referencing a recent issue when we highlighted the high percentage of contests that now take place between ticket-sellers and journeymen. “And that stupid thing they’ve been going on about boxers on the undercards, boxers and records. Do they not understand what it’s about bringing young fighters through, learning their craft and their trade?”
We have long understood the importance of young boxers learning their trade and the vital role journeymen play in that education. The point we tried to make, however, is that an increasing number of shows now barely have a solitary competitive fight on them. That particular observation was not made with Frank Warren in mind.
“I can’t even believe these people [Boxing News] are in boxing, they’re clueless, absolutely clueless, clueless, no wonder they can’t sell any editions of the f**king thing,” Warren went on. “I just find it so disrespectful to the fighters and the bullshit we had with them at Wembley, all that nonsense that we barred people, just blatant lies that they didn’t even put right in the magazine when I wrote to them. They are dishonest, absolutely dishonest, and it’s not worth wrapping your fish and chips up in.”
For what it’s worth, we did print Warren’s explanation as to why BN and so many others ended up in the stands for April’s Tyson Fury-Dillian Whyte showdown, a contest we awarded five stars beforehand, yet one which didn’t quite live up to that billing in the end, such was Fury’s dominance.
But Warren is entitled to his opinion just as we’re entitled to ours. At BN, we will continue to strive for a better sport, while being completely aware that our opinions won’t please everyone. The moment we attempt to please everyone, by simply being a mouthpiece for promoters, is when we completely lose what we have stood for since 1909.
We don’t doubt that Warren will change either. And nor should he. What he continues to do, at the age of 70, is truly incredible. The passion he has for his trade goes largely unrivalled and his rant about Boxing News, a paper he regards inferior to a takeaway wrapper, is testament to that.