By Frank Warren
AS SOON as the big heavyweight showdown between David Haye and Dereck Chisora was officially announced this week, the ‘experts’ started to come out.
It was confirmed that the fight will be promoted by the Television Channel BoxNation in association with German promoters Sauerland, who have their WBA World Heavyweight Champion Alexander Povetkin against Hasim Rahman on the card, plus Hayemaker Boxing. The promotion is sanctioned by the Luxembourg Boxing Federation.
Promoter Barry Hearn was quick off the mark in an interview to say that his company Matchroom would never work on a show that wasn't licensed by the British Boxing Board of Control, conveniently, he's forgotten about taking Herol Graham and Julian Jackson overseas after Jackson was refused a license to fight in Britain because of his deteriorating eyesight and his own exploits in the world of darts.
Jackson was virtually blind, but as Hearn had won the purse bid to stage the Vacant WBC World Middleweight title, so he looked at Monaco and eventually got a license under the Spanish boxing federation and the fight went on in a Benalmadena ballroom.
So a half-blind boxer fought against a British license holder with other British license holders involved in the promotion, what did the Board do about it? Zilch!
Some people have said Chisora is banned but the Board didn’t ban or even suspend Chisora, they simply withdrew his British licence and stated that he was free to reapply to them or another governing body, which what he has chosen to do.
There are a number of other similar controversies, not just Mayweather’s fight at the weekend despite being sentenced to a spell in Jail that the Board seemed to let pass without protest despite being affiliated to the body who sanctioned the fight. The Board are lobbying other EBU member states, including Germany, to block Haye v Chisora despite neither being licensed by them and the fight being screened live in Germany on ARD.
In 1996, the Board refused to sanction Scott Welch’s fight against Joe Bugner due to Bugner being over 40, yet the fight took place in Germany without any protest from the Board and was screened live on Sky.
Another British heavyweight champion, Danny Williams, was not granted a license by the Board, quite rightly in his own interests, to continue his career after being stopped at West Ham by Dereck Chisora, but he went to Latvia to obtain a license and has boxed three times in Germany since, I assume without protest from the Board.
Furthermore, Jim McDonnell, following a bad knockout loss in 1990, had his license revoked by the Board and spent eight years trying to be reinstated only to eventually give up and fight in Slovakia under a Hungarian license. Again the Board did not use the same tactics they are now using to prevent the boxers continuing their career in Europe and these due to health concerns.
More worryingly is that following Mike Tyson’s disgraceful behaviour in Glasgow in 2000, the Board banned Iron Mike from the UK and heavily fined him for his actions, yet they did not protest to their Euro counterparts and seek support to prevent him fighting in Denmark in 2001 and then taking a healthy fee for his fight with Lennox Lewis.
The difference here is very clear, neither Haye nor Chisora have any medical concerns and are at the peak of their careers and neither are banned or suspended. They would therefore in normal circumstances be licensed in Britain.
The real issue here is territory, if this fight were happening outside the UK, say in Spain as Hearn did back then, you would not have heard a peep from the Cardiff suits. I wonder whether the Board are trying to protect their own position rather than to protect the interests of its members and licensees.
The Board even complained to the European Boxing Union but they confirmed Luxembourg were licensed in order to sanction a promotion in another member country. Only recently, a promoter complained to the Board and EBU when James DeGales fight was won in a purse bid by an Italian promoter and was staged in Denmark on a German promoters show. I understand he was told there was nothing they could do and EBU rules and law allowed this.
Meanwhile Wladimir Klitschko labelled the big fight was a freak show with freak rules and a slap in the face for the British Board, but he didn’t complain at the post-fight press conference in Munich when his manager Bernd Bonte agreed that the winner of a fight between Haye and Chisora could fight his brother Vitali and what about, after the Munich brawl, the negotiations he was having with Adam Booth for Haye to fight Vitali in September?
Even this week his WBA Super, WBO and IBF World Heavyweight title defence against Tony Thompson was announced for July 7 in Bern, Switzerland and will be staged under German sanction.
The fact of the matter is that Haye and Chisora aren't the first boxers to look elsewhere for licences.
Former WBA World Featherweight champion Barry McGuigan controversially gave up his Irish license and took out a British one so that he could fight for the Lonsdale belt, and more recently Matthew Macklin withdrew his British license for one in New York before his fight against Sergio Martinez.
Antonio Margarito got a license to fight in Texas against Manny Pacquiao in September 2010 after his license in California was revoked in 2009 for one year following his fight with Shane Mosley when he was found to have had “loaded gloves”.
Even the Greatest, Muhammad Ali, who lost his license to box in April 1967 because of his refusal to serve in the Vietnam war, was out of the sport for three years and in 1970, Atlanta gave him a license to fight Jerry Quarry.
I’ve said that there are far worse that have happened in sport than Haye’s fight with Chisora. What happened in Germany at the post-fight press conference was terrible, but Chisora was never charged by the police with any offences in Germany, in fact he has assisted police there with their enquiries on at least two occasions.
What about Duncan Ferguson, who’s had four convictions for assault, including a sentence at Scotland’s Barlinnie prison in 1995 for head-butting Raith Rovers’ John McStay while he was at Rangers or Lee Hughes who served time for causing death by dangerous driving in 2004, both still carried on their football careers as did Tony Adams, Paul Walsh, Marlon King to name but a few after brushes with the law.
One of the greatest footballer’s of all-time, George Best, was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison for driving while drunk and assaulting a policeman, but he still had Belfast City airport named after him.
Haye v Chisora may not be everyones cup of tea, but it is down to choice and people will decide if they buy a ticket for West Ham or get a subscription to watch it on BoxNation. At the moment, the signs are, at the Box Office, that the British public want to watch a real heavyweight fight.
Rap star 50 Cent could follow pal Floyd Mayweather into the boxing ring.
He watched Mayweather beat Miguel Cotto last Saturday night in Las Vegas and showed some good hand speed working out on a speed ball before the fight.
Fiddy, who says he’s 200lb at the moment which is the cruiserweight division, reckons that he can compete as a super-middleweight.
“Money” Mayweather seems to have a license to print money, his fight with Cotto generated a live gate of just over $12m - the ninth biggest in Nevada history - while he got a record guaranteed purse of $32m.
Amateur boxer Vicky Larham from March has promised to get back in the ring after she has given birth in a few weeks time.
While in New Zealand, Cherine and Awatea Henry are believed to be the first mother and son to fight on the same card with father, husband and coach Henry in the corner.
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