Boxing has got to change, and it starts with us
Chris Hobbs on boxing’s integrity
HOW many real fighters are out there? How many boxers want to fight real fights, and how many want to just be known as a ‘pro boxer’ and take as few genuine challenges as they can, when surely boxing should be the ultimate personal challenge?
In today’s sport, I believe we are suffering from too many fake boxers who want to become pro fighters but don’t want to fight real fights. Who is to blame for this culture of taking easy fights by avoiding challenges and furthermore, can we really expect the fans to put up with this indefinitely in the future? In my mind, the very integrity of boxing is being undermined.
Could it be the promoters who are preventing fans getting value for their hard-earned money? With some exceptions I would say yes. On the small hall side and also for a large number of the more prominent bills that attract the general public, I can see why promoters do it as they want their home fighter – the guy selling the tickets and putting money in their pockets – to win. But what’s wrong with these fighters? Why do they not want to fight real opponents? As an amateur you were always put in with people around the same standard, so you worked harder in training and the wins meant more as a result.
Is the white collar/unlicensed scene to blame? A lot of fighters now take the jump from white collar to professional without knowing the basics, but because they can sell 200 tickets they’re given a pro licence and spend the next 10-15 fights fighting the paid losers. Really they are just conning the public and themselves.
At the top level, by choosing different routes and different belts it’s easy to avoid real challenges. The Floyd Mayweather-manny Paquiao fight took years to happen and when it finally did occur, it was a vague shadow of the fight it could have been. Who truly lost? The public and the paying fans.
Personally I would hate to feel I was conning the fans. I would rather fight the Anthony Yardes of the world than fight journeymen. In the first four to five fights of a boxer’s career, I understand there is learning to be done, but why not more 4-0 vs 4-0? Go back to before the ’90s and the majority of those fighters didn’t fight 15 journeymen. You had to work hard for your opportunities, but now you can get a shot at a title without really fighting any live opponents beforehand. It devalues the titles and the sport and that’s why I won’t do it. I would rather lose in a genuine fight than just add meaningless wins to my record.
Imagine you get a boxer who sells tickets and you build him up to 15-0, but he has fought no one with a winning record. The Board will see two unbeaten guys with similar records, match them for a title and the ticket-seller who has never been tested gets ruined and probably never recovers.
Think of the great fights we could watch if there were more genuine prospect vs prospect matches. When this happens everyone is a winner. The fans get intriguing, evenly matched fights, and the fighters get real experience. I think more boxers have got to stand up and demand tougher fights, and managers need to take more risks.
For me, something needs to change. Too many unbeaten fighters step up too late when they should learn more on the job. If this change happens, the UK will produce greater numbers of genuinely seasoned fighters. The fans get better value for money and boxing is the winner. Can we make it happen? It’s up to us.
I WOULD RATHER FIGHT THE ANTHONY YARDES OF THE WORLD THAN JOURNEYMEN
WRONG TIME: Mayweather
[left] and Pacquiao met too late in their careers