Toxic duo can help to improve boxing’s failing health
By Ciarán Gallagher
THERE’S no denying it: some may want to stick their fingers in the ears and close their eyes, but come Saturday night they will be punched in the face by the climatic hype of David Haye and Dereck Chisora’s grudge bout.
While both men acted poorly outside of the ring, the moral outrage surrounding the bout is growing slightly tiresome.
If you’re shouting down at the ‘disgrace’ from the moral high ground, remember that Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier brawled on the floor of an ABC TV studio.
A reported 30,000 tickets have been sold, while TV broadcaster channel BoxNation has received a major boost in subscriptions.
This is the biggest British boxing card for some time. It might be a fight between an average heavyweight and a blown-up cruiserweight but it is evenly matched and the pre-fight antics have helped to fuel publicity so the general public have actually taken an interest.
Meanwhile, last Monday, Mail Box was the only member of the Irish national media present at the launch of what looks likely to be the only pro show staged in the Republic this year — when Henry Coyle will headline in his native Mayo on August 17.
The western card is a modest affair but, like Coyle’s last home outing a year ago, it should sell out and provide a good night’s entertainment for Irish fight fans.
It is just interesting to note how quick many people are to pontificate over the morality of the Haye-Chisora circus, offering an ‘expert’ analysis, while genuine shows struggle for the oxygen of publicity and attention in Ireland and Britain.
Elsewhere, Amir Khan has been losing column inches to the gruesome twosome ahead of his Las Vegas outing against Danny Garcia, but the Las Vegas spin is still reaching top speed Stateside.
These very differing cards highlight the disparate health of pro boxing. The Mayo show should sell out due to a healthy appetite out west, but, in general, small cards rely on the big ones.
The integrity of Haye and Chisora may be called into question but people are talking about the fight. Casual fans are usually drawn into every sport by the top-level action. That’s why, for boxing’s sake, the Upton Park clash needs to be competitive.
Both heavyweights are a step below world class, but the recipe is there for a decent fight. What boxing doesn’t need is unsavoury incidents during the bout. The health of the game is precarious, but new fans can be drawn in by a good fight in the ring.
Forget Munich, forget the spitting, bottles and bitch-slaps, and notice that down at your local pub people are actually talking about the sport.
So boxing fans and figures have to ask themselves what they would prefer; you like a fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Tony Thompson, where both fighters are relatively cordial and most general punters either don’t give a shit or laugh at its predictable one-sided nature?
Or would you prefer an evenly-matched bout between a couple of undesirables, which attracts attention to the sport, provides an opportunity for undercard fighters to profit (including two Irish fighters tonight), and may have a knock-on effect in pushing bar-stool pundits towards attending a local show?
For those on the moral high ground, log out of the boxing forum, open the curtains and realise that without the interest of Joe Public, boxing is becoming more and more of a niche sport (particularly in Ireland).
Floyd and Manny can sit on top of whatever rich lists are compiled. In Ireland, and increasingly in Britain, boxing’s poor will keep getting poorer without the publicity which big shows provide the sport.
Or maybe we’re jumping the gun and disgraceful in-ring actions from tonight’s competitors. We’ll soon find out.