THOUGH there was little action in the sport’s blue ribbon division this week, the news was dominated by heavyweight developments. Chief among those was the news that Daniel Dubois did in fact suffer a serious injury to his eye while losing to Joe Joyce the weekend before last. Frank Warren, who promotes both Dubois and Joyce, revealed the diagnosis during BT Sport’s broadcast of Anthony Yarde’s points loss to Lyndon Arthur.
“His consultant is Miss Vickie Lee and her diagnosis was that he had ‘left medial orbital fractures’,” Warren said. He added that Lee, the consultant ophthalmic surgeon who dealt with Dubois’ injury, had advised that “it was fortunate the fight was stopped when he sustained a fracture, otherwise there was a risk of further trauma, and it could cause more orbital tissues and extra ocular muscles that move the eyeball to be entrapped into fractured fragments and cause potentially career-ending double vision.”
That should put the debate to bed – Dubois made the right call to end the fight when he did. Of course the reality is that there will still be those who unfairly label him a “quitter.”
On the same broadcast, former WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee – who is criminally underused as a commentator and pundit these days – aptly pointed out that in mixed martial arts, fighters are not derided for tapping out when being submitted, and questioned why boxers get different treatment from observers when they choose to stop fighting because of an injury.
It’s an excellent point, and one that was also made by none other than unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua earlier in the week. If an MMA fighter is locked in an armbar, they’re not expected to just let their opponent wrench the arm from its socket – it’s acknowledged that they’re in excruciating pain, and so understandable if they tap out. That’s no different to a boxer suffering severe swelling to an eye, no doubt also causing significant pain, then choosing to save themselves for another day.
The BBC announced their shortlist for Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) and Tyson Fury was once again included, after previously being nominated in 2015 after his victory over Wladimir Klitschko.
Of course, in that year, over 100,000 people signed a petition to remove Fury from the shortlist over a series of outspoken comments on homophobia and abortion. The BBC did not remove Fury and he came fourth in the public vote.
This year, in which Fury is nominated off the back of his stoppage win over Deontay Wilder, the WBC heavyweight champion has himself asked to be removed from consideration. Posting a video to his Instagram, Fury said: “I know who I am and what I’ve done in the sport. I have the love of the people which means more to me than all the awards in the world. To anyone who supports me, don’t vote.”
The BBC responded, confirming that they will not remove Fury from the shortlist and will continue to celebrate his achievements during the awards show on December 20.
SPOTY’s cultural relevance has waned over the past few years, though it’s still worth noting the significance of Fury’s nomination. It’s unlikely his fans will listen to his plea to not vote for him, but that support probably won’t be enough to top betting favourite Lewis Hamilton to the award.
Ireland’s Katie Taylor was nominated for the World Sports Star award alongside the likes of UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov and NBA icon LeBron James. With this nomination, Taylor’s career continues to blaze a trail for women’s boxing.
However, Claressa Shields’ most recent career move could stifle that growth. She has signed a deal with the Professional Fight League and will now compete in MMA where, particularly in the UFC, female fighters are much better compensated.
“Boxing is sexist,” she said to The Athletic. “I’m still put on a back burner to men who haven’t accomplished anything close to what I’ve accomplished. It’s sexist with the opportunities we’re given. It’s sexist with the TV time. It’s sexist with how much we get paid.”
The opinion of Shields, one of the most successful female boxers of all time, carries significant weight. Her talents have offered her exciting opportunities in boxing, but even these pale in comparison to that of male boxers. That she has decided to move into a completely new sport altogether speaks volumes about the barriers women face in boxing.
Fighters like Taylor are working to dismantle those barriers – her most recent fight drew a huge 2m viewers across the UK and Ireland – but it won’t be a quick fix.
Back to the heavyweights, and Oleksandr Usyk could soon be up for grabs to promoters across the world. His contract with K2 Promotions ends this year, and in an interview on his own YouTube channel he intimated that he could move to a different outfit.
Following from that, Bob Arum told Betway Insider that he’d love to sign the unbeaten Ukrainian, noting that Top Rank’s Vasiliy Lomachenko – a training partner and close friend of Usyk’s – could help facilitate such a move. Usyk is a major player in the division, so whomever signs him will be obtaining an exciting piece of the heavyweight puzzle. Matchroom would surely be favourite to sign him should he leave K2, though.
Jarrell Miller has been banned for two years by the Nevada State Athletic Commission following his latest failed drugs test earlier in the year. The ban is backdated to July, when the positive result was found, and can be reduced by six months should Miller meet certain requirements – one of which is just five hours of a “substance abuse program,” meaning he could be back in just over a year.
Given Miller’s egregious use of performance enhancing drugs – to which he still claims innocence – this punishment is woefully soft.