Governing body dispute threatens Irish title KO
A disagreement between two leading governing bodies, the Boxing Union of Ireland (BUI) and the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC), could see the Irish belt removed from Saturday’s Belfast blockbuster between Tyson Fury and Martin Rogan. Because the fight takes place in Northern Ireland it therefore partly falls under the jurisdiction of the BBBofC and General Secretary Robert Smith is reportedly presiding over a series of demands regarding the running of the headline attraction.
The crux of the disagreement apparently rests on an e-mail that was sent from Smith to BUI president Mel Christle, the details of which are as follows: “We have received a request from promoter Mick Hennessy for a non-scoring referee and three judges, which will be accepted by the Stewards of the Board due to the importance of the contest being on National Television, etc.
“However, the request for Mr. David Irving to be referee will not be accepted by the Board. We have no problem with Mr. Irving judging the contest but it is felt an experienced official will be required. Someone who has undertaken a number of varied championship contests and is proven at operating at world class.
“Unfortunately, before Mr. Irving was licensed by the Boxing Union of Ireland he failed to be upgraded to Star ‘A’ Class Referee in Great Britain due to the fact it was not felt he was good enough but suited more to the grade of ‘A’ Class.
“In addition, Mr. Hennessy requires a 12×3 round contest for television and, as in the past, we are happy to appoint judges following such a request. The fact that Mr. Hennessy has attracted a major television company in Channel 5, it is felt that the best possible standards are put in place and that would mean three judges and a non-scoring referee.”
The stance of the Board is surprising for a number of reasons. Firstly given that in 2007 Brian Magee and Tony Oakey met in Dublin for the British light-heavyweight title and all BBBofC requests (regarding distance, judges, referees etc) were adhered to by the BUI. Three years later Frankie Gavin fought Michael Kelly in Birmingham for the vacant Irish title with only Emile Tiedt as sole scoring judge and over 10 rounds. The recent JJ McDonagh-Lee Murtagh fight in Hove and Paddy McDonagh-John Waldron in Liverpool were also both over 10 rounds and with the referee as sole scorer. Smith dealt with both matters in the e-mail.
“With regard to the two Boxing Union of Ireland championship contests which took place in the United Kingdom recently, you are correct in that they were solely judged by the referee; however, had the promoter requested judges, each application would have been considered on its own merit.
“This event is a major tournament in Belfast and also a good advert for the All Irish Championship and therefore the Stewards feel that any appointment of officials for contests under their jurisdiction need to be made with the full approval of the Board.
“I am sure you understand the British Boxing Board of Control’s concerns and knowing the good relationship between the Boxing Union of Ireland and the British Boxing Board of Control the Stewards are mindful that this will not be an issue.”
BUI president Mel Christle has responded by stating that, “Under the rules of the Boxing Union of Ireland, All Ireland title fights are scheduled for 10×3 minute round bouts and are judged by the referee in charge of the said bout. The Board has nominated David Irving to be the referee, who has refereed numerous All Ireland titles, including heavyweight title fights, in the past. He is viewed as a top class referee, not only by the Boxing Union of Ireland but also by the president of the European Boxing Union, who witnessed and complimented his performances as referee on more than one occasion in the recent past.
“The Ratings Commission would be delighted if John Williamson [a Belfast official nominated by the BBB of C] would agree to be a supervisor at the bout, along with [BUI nominee] Francie McCullagh. However, we wish to make it clear that the conditions attaching to the holding of an All Ireland heavyweight title fight in Belfast – which were initially furnished to Mick Hennessy on 20th March – still apply.
“If the fight cannot take place in accordance with the BUI’s rules and be refereed by the BUI’s nominees, it will not be for the All Ireland heavyweight title.”
So it appears unlikely at the moment that the Irish title will be present at the Odyssey on April 14 unless these problems are first ironed out. Further discussions between the parties are due to take place and the BUI’s most basic rules and conditions are widely known to ringside scribes and, more importantly, to the promoters and show organisers. Even though the longstanding issue of Tyson Fury’s heritage and documentation was finally resolved and the Irish title initially put on the line, it appears that it may now be subject to added provisos being attached.