A TREMENDOUS weekend of boxing just occurred. The fights, particularly the main events in Dublin and Las Vegas, were of a very high standard and illustrated what happens when two quality, well-matched boxers are pitched against each other.
There were plenty of other talking points. Let’s start with the scoring. Now, I was of the belief that Vasiliy Lomachenko did just enough to beat Devin Haney, but it was not a “robbery”. It was close and not an easy one to score.
What did strike me, yet again, is that it’s time to re-evaluate the scoring system. Why do we continue to persevere with the 10-point-must system when the only scores ever rendered, in a round that doesn’t include a knockdown, are 10-9 or, rarely, 10-10? Even if someone gets dropped three times in a round, that would be scored 10-6. Please tell me what the fighter who has been bounced off the canvas has done to be awarded six points. Similarly, please tell me what Devin Haney did in the 11th round, when he was socked around the ring for much of it, to deserve nine points to Lomachenko’s 10. If dominant rounds were scored wider than nip-and-tuck stanzas, perhaps the term “robbery” wouldn’t be as commonly used
Far worse, from an officiating standpoint, was the refereeing from Emile Tiedt over in Ireland. With the towel on the floor and Gary Cully stumbling all over it, Tiedt allowed Jose Felix to throw more hurtful blows to the head. If he couldn’t tell that Cully was in dire trouble he shouldn’t be a referee.
Well done to the judges in Dublin, however. Despite people voicing their fears that Chantelle Cameron wouldn’t get a fair rub against hometown hero Katie Taylor, the decision provided a welcome reminder that the judges are not always for turning.
How many viewers were able to concentrate at that point of proceedings is another matter. Why, with a huge opportunity to attract new fans of different ages, races and genders, were we still sitting there at 10.30pm waiting for Cameron versus Taylor to start?
My wife wanted to watch after I’d given it the big sell, but she gave up a good hour before, muttering “never again” under her breath as she made her way up the stairs (it was not her first rodeo). Even my daughter, who at 10 years old will do almost anything to stay up late, threw in the towel after rubbing her little eyes to the point they were red and blotchy. In the meantime, my father-in-law, who is always keen to watch big fights, was texting to ask why boxing is always so late to start.
We’ve asked this question ourselves many times, to both broadcasters and promoters, only for the blame to be passed to the other. Well, someone must know why, aside from “tradition”. Boxing is the only British sport that waits for the pubs to close before it shows off its finest offerings. Imagine any other sporting showpiece event having to wait until its target audience was blind drunk.
The habits of consumers are changing. Though those of us of a certain age are conditioned for boxing to start late at night, it doesn’t mean the next generation – or any generation, for that matter – should now have to do the same. And back then, before satellite TV, apps and no end of gaps, at least we knew the main event would have to start at a certain time because of the scheduling. And that scheduling, back in terrestrial-only times, was also the reason why it was pushed back so late in the first place. But these days, with numerous platforms to play with, there’s no need to wait until Blind Date and a rerun of Big Trouble in Little China has finished.
Nor do we have to go back to an era when viewers are being conned into embracing another world belt. Back in the early ’90s, it was the WBO. On the Dublin undercard, we were told the IBO was a “world championship”. Please, stop it.
Yet at no point were we told exactly why Taylor had to wait until she was past her best before she got the chance to fight in Ireland. Taylor turned professional in November 2016, 10 months after a shooting took place at a boxing weigh-in at Dublin’s Regency Hotel. But we’re not supposed to talk about that. And we’re most certainly never again to mention the man who the bullets were designed to kill that day. The spectre of Daniel Kinahan continues to loom large, however. One of the world’s most wanted men is, I’m told by more than one insider, still pulling certain strings behind certain scenes. And even if you choose not to believe them, you could see several of his old associates sitting proudly at ringside.
What a message that is. Perhaps this is post-watershed stuff, after all.